Some public health experts believe protests could lead to flareup in COVID-19 cases in SC

Some public health experts believe protests could lead to flareup in COVID-19 cases in SC

BLACKVILLE, S.C. (WIS) - Deanne Miller Berry got tested for COVID-19 Tuesday afternoon.

Berry has been self-quarantining since joining hundreds of people for a protest against police brutality in downtown Columbia on Saturday.

"We're no good to the movement or the cause if we aren't taking care of ourselves," she said.

Over the weekend and this week, thousands of people have been gathering in cities and towns across the state for protests. Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state continues to rise as testing capacity increases and many restrictions have been eased.

At these protests, the majority of protesters are wearing masks but other measures like staying six feet apart have not been followed.

Mariah Cochran said she'll be getting herself tested for COVID-19 after protesting Monday afternoon at the State House with a group. "There is no such thing as social distancing when you are peacefully protesting. You have to band together and be one body, one unit. You put your health aside when people are dying."

Dr. Melissa Nolan is an assistant professor of Epidemiology at the University of South Carolina. She said we’re seeing a small flare-up right now in cases because of the Memorial Day weekend. She also expects another spike because of these protests.

On Saturday, we saw the highest daily number of new COVID-19 cases reported in South Carolina. DHEC reported there were 420 new cases of COVID-19.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 12,415 positive cases and 225,047 people in South Carolina have been tested for COVID-19.

Dr. Nolan said, "I absolutely support civil liberties and I think everyone deserves the right to speak their voice, but there are things you can do mitigate transmission spread."

She recommended following social distancing guidelines, wearing a mask, covering your mouth when you cough, staying home if you feel ill.

She said Berry and Cochran are making the right decisions by getting tested.

Berry said even though there are risks right now with being in large groups, the push for change cannot wait.

“If we don’t take a stand today - what’s going to happen tomorrow? We need to fight today so our children won’t need to fight tomorrow,” she said.

For a list of COVID-19 screening and testing sites, click here.

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