Virologist: Olympia protest could lead to spike in WA coronavirus cases
Over the weekend, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Olympia to protest Washington’s ongoing stay-at-home order. Ultimately though, one expert believes that not only will the protests not affect how the state decides to reopen, but could also lead to a potential spike in coronavirus cases.
“I don’t think in Washington those protests are going to have very much effect,” Columbia University virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.
Dr. Rasmussen cites recent statements from Gov. Jay Inslee, who has stood firm on his stance to prioritize data and hard evidence as the factors driving decisions to relax social distancing measures.
That’s a sentiment she agrees with herself.
“I think that in general, decisions to reopen should be based on evidence — as we’re doing here in Washington state — rather than on protesters,” she noted.
There are also concern that thousands of protesters gathering together while not observing social distancing guidelines could inadvertently lead to a spike in coronavirus cases in the days ahead.
But is that actually a possibility?
“I think so,” Dr. Rasmussen opined. “After seeing the news about the protests in Olympia over the weekend, I made a mental note to myself to check back on our state case counts in one to two weeks to see if we’ve had any jumps, because those protests do seem like a very good environment to potentially spread coronavirus among the people attending.”
Meanwhile, even though protests haven’t moved the needle in Washington, other states have relented in recent days.
That includes Georgia, whose governor, Brian Kemp, made the decision to begin opening gyms, salons, and more, a move Rasmussen labels as “incredibly dangerous.”
“It’s a really bad idea in general to open those businesses right now, with essentially no restrictions and no guidance for physical distancing,” she cautioned.
Georgia’s decision operates in opposition to a recommended opening date of June 19 from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
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