DC Protests Not Linked to New Coronavirus Cases, Officials Say

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D.C. saw a temporary increase in the spread of the coronavirus in late June, data released Monday morning shows. Racial justice demonstrations have not been linked to new cases, officials said.

Community spread of the virus climbed to 37 known cases on June 22, up from 25 cases two days earlier. The figure then declined to nine cases on June 27. Community spread of the virus has declined overall since late April.

The community spread metric tracks how many people are known to have developed symptoms in the community — not in congregate settings such as jails, assisted living or shelters — on a given day. When the spread of cases in the community is down, it shows the virus is no longer rapidly spreading, the city says.

City health officials have not seen any link between the spread of the virus and racial justice demonstrations in the city, health director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said Monday afternoon. People are known to have contracted the virus from members of their households and from engaging in essential activities, she said. Officials will continue to monitor any spread in cases due to the protests, where many people wear masks but do not maintain social distance.

Nesbitt, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and CDC infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci repeatedly warned potential protesters that mass gatherings could spread the virus.

An undisclosed number of members of the D.C. National Guard tested positive for the virus after responding to the protests

The percentage of positive coronavirus cases is declining across the D.C. area, but those numbers come amid a new warning from the nation’s top infectious disease expert on protests during the pandemic. News4's Doreen Gentzler reports.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 10,000 people in D.C. have been infected and at least 561 people have died. 

Work is underway now to determine when it will be safe for D.C. to move into reopening phase three, Nesbitt said.

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