Coronavirus

De Blasio: NYC Not Asking Whether Coronavirus Patients Attended Mass Protests

NYC mayor Bill de Blasio
NYC mayor Bill de Blasio / Getty Images

New York City coronavirus contact tracers are not asking people about their participation in mass protests as officials attempt to contain further outbreaks of the virus.

"No person will be asked proactively if they attended a protest," a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio (D.) told The City. "If a person wants to proactively offer that information, there is an opportunity for them to do so."

Contact tracers will instead ask individuals who test positive for coronavirus to recall the other people they came into contact with, and also whether or not they live with anyone else in their homes.

Protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police have seen tens of thousands of people gathered closely together in outdoor spaces, raising concerns about new outbreaks as the country begins to reopen. Public officials have urged protest attendees to get tested for the coronavirus as quickly as possible after attending protests.

Many public health officials endorsed the protests despite previous warnings about the dangers of mass gatherings. Hundreds of officials and health professionals signed an open letter endorsing the current protests while denouncing other protests against state lockdown orders.

De Blasio said that a three-day average of coronavirus tests conducted last week in New York City saw positivity rates increase from 2 percent to 3 percent. While permitting protests to continue, he has curtailed other outdoor activities, including children's use of playgrounds.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the playgrounds just created too much of a risk to families, of the spread of the disease," he said.

Early data indicate that the protests have not resulted in major spikes in infections around the country. Of the participants in Minnesota rallies tested for the virus, 1.4 percent tested positive. The Seattle mayor's office reported that of 3,000 tests conducted after the city's protests, less than 1 percent came back positive.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D.) threatened to reinstitute New York City's lockdown orders after city bars and restaurants reopened for outdoor service. New hospitalizations in the city fell to 1,700 last weekend, the lowest point since March 22.