Health department offers tips for community to stay safe while protesting for racial justice

Updated: Jun. 12, 2020 at 9:07 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. (WVIR) - As people across the country, and in Charlottesville, flood the streets to demand racial justice, the health department wants to make sure people are safe to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Staff at the Thomas Jefferson Health Department say they believe racism is a public health crisis and support people protesting, but they do want to make sure people are still protecting themselves from COVID-19 at all times.

“We are in the middle of a crisis, this being just as important as the pandemic, if not more important," protester Colleen McCaffrey said.

The health department says it understands the need for protests.

“We don’t want to dismay people from doing that important work if they feel safe doing so," Sally Goodquist, Deputy Public Information Officer said.

The employees want to make sure people use caution in large crowds.

“Wear a mask, you want to keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others when possible,” Goodquist said.

They are urging people to try to stay on the outside of the crowd and make sure to take a shower when returning home and immediately putting their clothes in the laundry. They do not want people to blame protests for the spike in COVID-19 cases in a few weeks.

“We’re re-opening our states. People are coming into contact more often in other setting as well and we’re more prepared to test folks. We have been working on testing capacity at the health district,” Goodquist said.

Some protesters say they know the pandemic is still real, but it doesn’t compare to what black and brown people have been through for years.

‘I’m not necessarily scared of catching it because I'm out here, but I'm doing what I can to not,” McCaffrey said.

If you are out to protest and have to remove your mask for any reason, the health depart encourages people to step away from the crowd. Also, do not touch the front of the mask, but take it off from behind your ears.

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