Health Official Urges George Floyd Protesters to Wear Masks, Practice Social Distancing

A group volunteers from DTLA Town Square help clean up the streets littered with broken glasses and trash after last night protest of the killing of George Floyd in downtownProtests over the killing of George Floyd, Los Angeles, USA - 30 May 2020
Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/Shu

Widespread protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd could become “super-spreader” events for the coronavirus, an L.A. County health official said Monday.

Barbara Ferrer, the director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, urged protesters to wear masks and use social distancing whenever possible.

“There’s a lot of risk of these gatherings becoming super-spreader events,” Ferrer said. “We’ll need to work together to prevent these events from resulting in many more people becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.”

The county has allowed retailers and restaurants to reopen, while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Ferrer said those relaxed measures remain in place, even though they may result in a slight increase in infections.

She said that it remains important for everyone — including protesters — to keep six feet apart from others whenever possible.

“Wearing your face covering is a much needed act of respect,” she said. “This is a time to show up with compassion and respect for other people.”

L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said that the county would be watching closely to see if the protests over the weekend result in an increase in cases, though she said the county aims to continue to reopen other sectors of the economy.

Ferrer said any increase from the protests would not show up for three to four weeks, giving the lengthy incubation period.

For the second straight night, Los Angeles County has imposed a countywide curfew from 6 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday. Many coronavirus testing sites have been closed due to the civil unrest, though a site at Dodger Stadium has remained open.