The Republican mayor of Miami-Dade County, Florida, said Sunday that Black Lives Matter protests were definitely a "contributing factor" in the recent surge of coronavirus cases in the county.
Speaking with CBS' "Face the Nation," Mayor Carlos Giménez said, "Obviously the protests had a lot to do with it."
"We had thousands of young people together outside, a lot of them not wearing masks, and we know that when you do that and you are talking, and you are chanting, et cetera, that really spreads the virus," he said. "So absolutely the protests had something to do with it."
“The protests certainly had a lot to do with it,” @MayorGimenez says of #covid spikes surrounding recent #BLM prote… https://t.co/WcADX9tblU— Face The Nation (@Face The Nation)1593960873.0
The mayor did note, however, that the protests were likely not the only contributing factor, saying that residents who "let their guard down" also had something to do with the spike.
"So it's all of the above," he said. "I'm not saying it's just [protesting], but it was a contributing factor."
Miami-Dade County reported single-day highs of 2,418 new cases and 12 deaths on Saturday. On Sunday, the totals dropped only slightly with 2,282 new cases and 5 deaths reported, according to the Miami Herald. As of Sunday, Miami-Dade's total pandemic counts are 47,011 cases and 1,043 deaths.
The county's uptick is reflective of the state of Florida as a whole, which surpassed 200,000 total cases following the influx of new cases reported over the weekend. Several states across the country have experienced similar surges.
In the interview, Giménez suggested that the rapid rise of younger people testing positive for the virus and being hospitalized in the county in mid-June indicated that increased socializing and protests were responsible for the surge.
Many have suggested that the mass protests against racial injustice which erupted across the country following George Floyd's death in late May would lead to the further spread of the virus and have been suspicious of a recent study which concluded there was "no evidence" that such was the case.
After all, America's top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned in early June that mass protests were "a perfect set-up for the spread of the virus."
Yet despite enforcing strict lockdowns on businesses and churches in the early stages of the pandemic, state and local leaders did comparatively little to stop mass protests in the name of public health. In some cases, public health experts and state and local leaders openly supported the protests in the face of health risks.