U.S. COVID-19 cases top 2 million as first protest-linked infections noted

June 11, 2020

Some members of the Washington, DC, National Guard who have been deployed over the past two weeks of protests and civil unrest have tested positive for COVID-19, a National Guard spokesperson confirmed, and U.S. cases have topped two million.

Though it is not clear how many of the 1,300 troops active in DC in recent weeks are infected, the news dampens optimism that outdoor protests with masked participants would not necessarily spread the novel coronavirus. The National Guard is encouraging all troops deployed during protests to be tested for COVID-19 within 14 days.

The Nebraska National Guard has also confirmed two cases among troops activated in response to protests in Lincoln last week. Top officials on the White House coronavirus task force voiced concerns to governors on Monday that protests would lead to a surge of new cases, according to a transcript of a phone call.

Deborah Birx, MD, a member of the task force, said 70 COVID-19 testing sites were destroyed in cities across America, which will limit the impact of early detection. She also told governors that yelling would likely negate the use of masks and that it was absolutely critical law enforcement officers be tested for the virus.

Birx also voiced concerns that an uptick in cases in California, North Carolina, Utah, and Arizona was not tied to the protests but to active community spread in urban Hispanic neighborhoods. According to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker, officials have confirmed at least two million U.S. cases and over 112,000 fatalities.

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