State leaders urge protesters to get tested for coronavirus amid fears of new outbreaks

State leaders urge protesters to get tested for coronavirus amid fears of new outbreaks
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Top officials in several states are warning protesters who attended several nights of demonstrations over the past week to get tested for the coronavirus, citing the risks of people being in large groups.

Protests over the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died in police custody last week, have erupted in cities in every state in the country, vexing public health officials who for weeks have urged Americans to avoid public places unless necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In Austin, Texas, the city's top health commission warned demonstrators to seek COVID-19 testing, which is free of charge for city residents, amid gatherings of protesters in the state's capital that were estimated to number in the thousands according to the Austin Statesman.

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) echoed that advice for demonstrators in Newark, the state's largest city, after several nights of protests.

“If you’re in close proximity, I think you should get tested,” Murphy said at a daily press briefing, according to Nj.com. “The notion for a super-spreader is very much the case in a very close congregation of people. We want to make sure folks are being responsible.”

“If you were downtown at that protest in any capacity, whether you’re a cop, a civilian, whether you were cleaning up, whether you were helping out whether you were part of the clergy, whatever you were doing, go get tested immediately," added Newark Mayor Ras Baraka (D) in a separate address on Monday.

Colorado Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisProtesters surround Aurora Police precinct after photos emerge of officers mocking Elijah McClain's death Officer involved in taking pictures mocking Elijah McClain resigns Colorado governor closes bars amid rise in virus cases MORE (D) said Tuesday during his daily coronavirus briefing that he supports the ongoing protests, but is worried that they will cause the spread of the virus further across the state.

“One of my greatest fears in watching the events over the last weekend is that so many people gathering in one place together will increase the spread of coronavirus across our nation, here in Colorado,” Polis said according to CBS 4. “Only in the coming weeks will we see the impact of these large gatherings, but health experts tell me that it could result in hundreds of new cases and untold pain, death and suffering just as we were making progress.”

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was also pressed on the issue during an interview with CNN's "State of the Union," explaining: “There's no question that, when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity, when we have got this virus all over the streets, it's not healthy."

Hogan added that his immediate concern, however, was lowering the tensions across his state and particularly in Baltimore, the state's largest city.

“Right now, the immediate concern is to lower the temperature, stop the looting, and potentially keep our citizens safe from the riots that are going on,” he added.