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Health experts back protests despite coronavirus since 'white supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19'

Science!

Photo by KYLE GRILLOT/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of public health and disease experts said the risks of contracting COVID-19 at large protests shouldn't deter people from demonstrating against racism, National Public Radio reported, citing an open letter penned by the health experts.

What are the details?

"White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19," the letter said, according to NPR.

Initially written by infectious disease experts at the University of Washington, the letter cited a number of systemic problems, from the disproportionately high rate at which black people have been killed by police in the U.S. to disparities in life expectancy and other vital categories — including black Americans' higher death rate from the coronavirus. [...]

Local governments should not break up crowded demonstrations "under the guise of maintaining public health," the experts said in their open letter. They urged law enforcement agencies not to use tear gas, smoke and other irritants, saying they could make people more susceptible to infection and worsen existing health conditions.

According to Slate, the letter said protests shouldn't be viewed primarily as potentially adding to coronavirus cases but rather as a tool to promote public health, as protests address "the paramount public health problem of pervasive racism. We express solidarity and gratitude toward demonstrators who have already taken on enormous personal risk to advocate for their own health, the health of their communities, and the public health of the United States."

More from Slate:

By Tuesday afternoon, more than 1,000 epidemiologists, doctors, social workers, medical students, and other health experts had signed the letter. The creators had to close a Google Sheet with signatures to the public after alt-right messages popped up, but they plan to publish a final list soon, says Rachel Bender Ignacio, an infectious disease specialist and one of the letter's creators. The hopes for the letter are twofold. The first goal is to help public health workers formulate anti-racist responses to media questions about the health implications. The second is to generate press to address a general public that may be concerned about protests spreading the virus.

But not all protests are created equal, apparently

Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire put together a Twitter thread of reaction to recent protests against the coronavirus lockdowns. (Remember those?) It goes without saying that the experts and the powers that be — and that arbiter of all things moral (and blackface wearer) Jimmy Kimmel — weren't too sympathetic to those protesters.

Here are a few examples Walsh cited:

Image source: Twitter

Image source: Twitter

Image source: Twitter

Image source: Twitter

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