CDC head Robert Redfield said on Thursday that he is concerned that the civil unrest could lead to coronavirus “seeding” events, which could prompt a new outbreak of the virus.
Speaking before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday, Redfield said he is fretful that Americans aren’t heeding the organization’s social distancing guidance.
“We really want those individuals to highly consider being evaluated and get tested, and obviously, go from there, because I do think there is a potential, unfortunately, for this to be a seeding event,” Redfield said about the protests, especially those in major metropolitan areas with a significant spread of the virus. “And the way to minimize that is to have each individual to recognize it's to the advantage of them to protect their loved ones. ‘Hey, I was out, I need to go get tested,’ you know, in three, five, seven days, go get tested, make sure you're not infected.”
While the daily number of new cases has decreased from its peak in April, a number of states are continuing to see an increase in cases. On Thursday, the state of Florida announced its largest jump in infections, with 1,400 new coronavirus cases.
With social distancing guidelines being flouted amid massive civil unrest following the death, Redfield said that seeding events have been found to be responsible for a large number of cases nationally.
“Obviously, we're very concerned that our public health message isn't resonating,” Redfield said. “We continue to try to figure out how to penetrate the message with different groups.”
Redfield was asked whether he would recommend tear gas not be used at protests as the chemical agents can cause protesters to cough and spread more particles into the air. Redfield said it is a concern he shares and he will bring up the the question at the next White House coronavirus task force meeting.
“We have advocated strongly the ability to have face coverings and masks available to protesters so that they can at least have those coverings, but you do raise an important question,” Redfield responded.