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George Floyd protests could spark coronavirus surge in Minnesota

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Health officials warn that the mass protests roiling Minneapolis in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death could have the unintended consequence of a spike in coronavirus cases in Minnesota, according to a report.

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that it was understandable that people want to protest Floyd’s death while in police custody, but warned about their exposure risks during the pandemic, the Star Tribune reported.

Minnesota reported a single-day record of 35 deaths on Thursday from the illness, raising the death toll to 967, according to the news outlet.

“People are moved to want to speak and to want to gather in solidarity and in protest, and we certainly honor and respect that right,” Malcolm said.

“As we know, large gatherings do pose a risk in any epidemic, but certainly where we stand today with the state of COVID-19 spread in our community. Knowing that we have community spread, we just want to again encourage folks who gather to be mindful of the risk,” she added.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm speaks at a news conference about the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm speaks at a news conference about coronavirus.John Autey/Pioneer Press via AP

The state is among 20 that ate listed on the COVID Exit Strategy website as “trending poorly” due to increasing case counts and hospitalizations, the Star Tribune reported.

Blacks have contracted at least 29 percent of the known cases with listed racial information in Minnesota, despite making up a little more than 6 percent of the state’s population.

The state had been scaling back restrictions, with churches being able to offer services for up to 250 people or 25 percent of their capacities, and restaurants and bars being allowed to provide outdoor service beginning Monday.

Gov. Tim Walz, right, listens to Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm as she provides an update on the state's coronavirus response.
Gov. Tim Walz, right, listens to Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm as she provides an update on the state’s coronavirus response.John Autey/Pioneer Press via AP

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