As coronavirus case numbers continue to rise, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has expressed a different take on the ongoing protests against racial injustice than she did several weeks ago when citizens demonstrated against pandemic shutdowns.
Despite her previous opposition to the earlier protests, Pelosi joined with those taking part in a demonstration outside of the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, according to Breitbart.
“They are very close together”
Joined by staffers and security guards, Pelosi donned a face mask as reporters chronicled her walk alongside those protesting in the wake of George Floyd’s death last week.
Speaker Pelosi is at the protests… pic.twitter.com/9NR01fXcdd
— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 3, 2020
Less than two months ago, however, Pelosi dismissed protests against restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. She said they amounted to little more than a “distraction” that she hoped the media would not “over-exaggerate.”
Pelosi still has similar concerns over the possibility that those taking part in the current nationwide demonstrations could cause a spike in the highly contagious virus.
“It is true that wearing a mask and social distancing are very important to stopping the spread,” she said in an MSNBC interview on Wednesday. “And as people go out there, I hope that they know that they’re taking a risk as well as bringing home — but there’s been some good social distancing among some of the crowds, and on TV, they all look like they are very close together.”
“Increase the risk of coughing”
She held out hope, however, that “some of them are probably practicing social distancing.”
As WCAU reported, medical experts say the health risks associated with mass protests during a pandemic could be severe.
“Things like yelling, speaking loudly, chanting, can increase the number of droplets that are exposed,” said Temple University epidemiologist Abby Rudolph. “Police tactics like tear gas and pepper spray increase the risk of coughing and expelling mucus and droplets in the air.”
Those arrested and held together in buses, vans, or jail cells for breaking curfew and other alleged criminal behavior, might be among those most at risk for contracting and spreading the virus in such situations.
If Pelosi were truly concerned about the threat of another coronavirus outbreak, she might consider discouraging large gatherings and asking those participating in the protests to air their grievances in a safer manner, instead of joining their ranks during Wednesday’s demonstration.