Minneapolis, the epicenter of George Floyd protests, has now turned into a possible spot for coronavirus experiments for the US public health officials. The health department has set up at least four testing zones in and around Minnesota and St Pauls. Kristen Ehresmann, the department's health director, clarified that the limit on individuals to be tested from protest areas has now been changed. Apart from those with respiratory disorders, all those who attended Black Lives Matter protests have got themselves tested at the testing centers in Minnesota and St Paul's.
A trusted adviser to the WHO, Linsey Marr, hinted that wearing masks alone will not help and that staying in a confined environment also won't. Ehresmann HealthPartners, one of the major health care providers in Minnesota, tested around 8,500 people who attended the protests recently, and only 0.99 percent of them tested positive for COVID-19. "Right now, with the data available to us, it appears there was very little transmission at protest events. We are absolutely relieved," Kristen Ehresmann said, according to the Wired.
1% COVID-19 Positives in Seattle and Boston
Seattle and Boston were two places that saw protesters marching in massive numbers. This definitely had created a major concern for the scientists and the doctors, and of course, President Donald Trump, who is set to hold a rally in Tulsa on Saturday. However, only 1-1.5 percent of protesters or those who were around them in Seattle and Boston tested positive. All agitators were out on the streets all day long, and almost all are safe from the pandemic. "I think we would have seen a very different situation with fewer masks and indoor events," says Roger Shapiro, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Shapiro's studies in a way unwind the hard facts about the virus and the way it spreads inside a closed atmosphere where the air cannot move the particles. Whereas, when a protester sneezed or coughed, or interacted with another individual in open spaces, there was less chance for the virus to move into a subject's body.
The groundbreaking findings include a possible way out of the pandemic. One of the findings is that the "the airborne 'route' of the COVID pandemic" has to be studied to track its evolution. Linsey Marr, professor of environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, says that during the diagnosis of COVID, it is important to study "how COVID-19 enters a body" and not "how the virus (or any virus) behaves inside the body.
Minnesota's tests have revealed that staying outdoors in less, more or massive numbers cannot be the way for COVID to infect the protesters, given most of them wore masks and were scattered while moving on the streets. However, if the same was done in a 'confined atmosphere', the risk is way more, even with the masks on.
Space is Must for Air to Play
Marr further detailed that the smallest microscopic particles can be easily filtered by masks, and took an example of a drunk person trying to get to the other side of the room, while he/ she touches the chairs and other objects. "The particle is the drunk person, and the chairs are the fibres of the masks," she says. "The fibers stop the particles."
Even as the WHO has been adamant to prove that COVID is not an airborne virus, it is â based on what space you are in â confined or open.
Trump's Rally in Tusla
Tulsa, where President Trump is set to hold the re-election rally on June 20, has 1,825 cases as per the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The Bank of Oklahoma (BOK) Centre where Trump will hold the rally has a capacity of 20,000 people. However, an official involved in the planning of the event told CNN that a footfall of 100,000 is expected at BOK on Saturday.
The fact that gatherings are not the reason for the virus to spread is acceptable, but the condition of limiting many people in a confined space will be violated in Tulsa. Unlike in Minnesota, Tulsa can lead to a few thousand cases again, or can be seen as a new testbed for scientists to know "how bad the coronavirus is!"