Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “contact tracing team” won’t be allowed to ask COVID-19 patients if they attended a George Floyd protest recently, The City reported.
The “contact tracing team” is tasked with finding an infected patient’s recent contacts and informing them about their exposure to the virus so they can self-isolate. However, the team is not allowed to ask people if they attended one of the many recent demonstrations where thousands of people gathered closely together to protest the death of George Floyd, The City reported.
“The hundreds of contact tracing workers hired by the city under de Blasio’s new ‘test and trace’ campaign have been instructed not to ask anyone who’s tested positive for COVID-19 whether they recently attended a demonstration” https://t.co/jcHHb2o4Wr
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) June 15, 2020
Instead, the team was instructed to ask general questions so the coronavirus patients can “proactively offer” information about attending a demonstration. (RELATED: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio’s Daughter Called Him Out On His ‘White Privilege’)
Avery Cohen, a spokesperson for the mayor, told The City that the questions are intended to help patients “recall ‘contacts’ and individuals they may have exposed,” saying in an email that “no person will be asked proactively if they attended a protest.”
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are asked for information about who lives in their home and their “recent contacts,” without being asked whether or not those contacts occurred at a protest, Cohen added.
Cohen said that “there is an opportunity” for coronavirus patients to “proactively offer” information about attending a protest if they choose to do so.
De Blasio hired 1,000 workers to do contact tracing for people who test positive for COVID-19 in order to stop the spread of the virus. New York City was the hotbed of the pandemic outbreak in the United States and struggled with an overwhelmed health care system and skyrocketing case numbers.
De Blasio expressed concern over the potential spread of coronavirus from mass gatherings during protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
The mayor said during a June 1 press conference that “For those who have already had their presence and made their voices heard, the safest thing to do is to stay home,” according to ABC 7 News.
“Obviously we don’t want people in close proximity to each other, we don’t want people out there where they might catch this disease or spread this disease,” the mayor added.
During a press conference Thursday, de Blasio said “playgrounds just created too much of a risk to families, of the spread of the disease.” When asked if he would say the same about protests, he said “the moment that this city, this nation has gone through in the last two weeks or so is something very particular, very painful, very intense, very challenging.”
“But also a moment where literally decades and centuries of the demand for change came forward, and real change is happening as a result,” the mayor added.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told WTOP the protests are “the perfect set up for the spread of the virus in the sense of creating some blips which might turn into some surges,” which is “really of concern.”