NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Underpinning protests against racial injustice in New Orleans earlier this month was a fear that the demonstrations, however necessary to raise public consciousness, would endanger public health in a city and state that had been hot spots for the new coronavirus.
Cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise in Louisiana and other states as restrictions on public gatherings and businesses have eased. But fears that the New Orleans protests — launched after the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis — would contribute significantly to major coronavirus clusters have proven unfounded so far.
Dr. Joseph Kanter, director of the state health department region that includes New Orleans, said Thursday that of the recent positive cases in the area, only a few were among people who attended the protests.
“We’re now a couple of weeks out,” Kanter said of protests that began in late May and extended into early June. “We have not seen a spike in cases for New Orleans. … We’ve not yet seen any indication that the protests have contributed significantly to COVID cases.”
There are some caveats here. Testing continues, as does daily analysis of data. The picture may change.
Still, for now, it is a bit of good news — first touted by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the city health director, Dr. Jennifer Avegno — as cases rise and hospitalizations, once on a steady downward trend, appeared to be ticking up again.
If the numbers hold up under further analyses, the New Orleans protests will be cited as examples of what health officials in Louisiana and nationwide have been saying: outdoor gatherings are […]