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Large Crowds Of Protesters Raise Fears Of Potential New Coronavirus Outbreaks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A lot of protesters have been seen without masks over the past few days.

It's raising fears of potential new coronavirus outbreaks all across New York City.

With hundreds of people protesting the death of George Floyd, it makes following social distancing guidelines very difficult.


Protesters of all ages and all backgrounds came together Sunday for a fourth consecutive day.

"I just want to be able to breathe and just feel like I belong here," one protester told CBS2's Cory James.

While most had their faces covered, staying six feet apart was more of a challenge.

Grace Ankem says that concerns her.

"It definitely does hence [why] I'm in the back of the crowd," she said.

Since the protests started, video has shown many demonstrators without face coverings, often shouting and protesting close together.

CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez believes this could increase the risk for another outbreak.

"All it will take is one or two infected people, they don't even have to know they are infected, under those circumstances, not wearing a mask, spraying these droplets into those crowds, and you could very easily have an outbreak that's traced right back to those demonstrations," he said.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams says that worries him.

"We do want to be wary that this coronavirus is not over just 100%," he said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

But some of the protesters who were out feel the pandemic should not hold people back.

"We need to speak up because the bigger issue in our country right now is systemic racism," one woman said.

"I respect anybody who is afraid to come out," another woman said. "Not to belittle the COVID situation but ... I do because I feel like this is more important right now."

"We're tired. We don't care about no pandemic, OK? We want justice," another protester said.

Williams also does not want people to stop protesting. He says people need to wear face coverings.

He also said the city will pay close attention to see if there are any spikes in COVID-19 cases.

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