They once warned against the rapid spread of coronavirus. But thousands of healthcare workers went against their own advice this past weekend as they participated in mass gatherings in Seattle to protest the shooting of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Public health officials realize a mixed message is being sent to the public.
“People are aware of those inconsistencies and it’s a really difficult message to put out to the public,” said Kasey Knutson of the Kittitas County Public Health Department.
This weekend, Kittitas County health officials learned a protestor who took part in marches on June 1 and 2 in Ellensburg has tested positive for coronavirus.
It’s a stark reminder that anyone attending those events – even the doctors and nurses – are at greater risk.
But many experts feel the significance of the protests outweighs the threat from the virus.
“Racism is more dangerous for the country than COVID-19,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, one of the leading University of Washington researchers who has been tracking the spread of coronavirus.
Many people have questioned the cancellations of other significant life events, like weddings and funerals, because of coronavirus.
A spokesperson for the Seattle/King County Department of Public Health declined an interview about the department’s position on healthcare workers participating in the protests.
She referred KING 5 to a blog entry the health department has written on the subject.