How to Protest Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Black lives matter, and protesters in every state are shouting it louder than ever in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. But while we want to march for justice and protest for racial equality, we’re still not really supposed to be within six feet of one another due to COVID-19.
POPSUGAR asked physician Natasha Bhuyan, MD at One Medical for tips on how to stand up for civil rights while keeping the spread of a viral pandemic to a minimum. Stay safe out there!
Wear a Mask
This one should really be a given, but, please, don’t forget your mask. “COVID-19 is known to spread from person-to-person transmission via respiratory droplets, including those produced by coughing, laughing, or even sneezing,” said Dr. Bhuyan. “Given people in a protest are in close proximity and often chanting loudly, it’s important to wear a mask that covers your nose and face.”
It serves another purpose, though. If the police response becomes extreme, Dr. Bhuyan reminds us that “a face mask can help protect you from tear gas and pepper spray.”
Skip the Contact Lenses
It will be hard to keep yourself safe if you can’t see, so don’t wear your contact lenses, unless you have goggles on as well. “Instead, wear glasses, goggles or face shields to protect your eyes from any chemicals that may be used by law enforcement,” said Dr. Bhuyan.
Don’t Forget to Bring Liquids
Hydration not only steels your immune system and helps keep you in tip top condition, but it’s an essential for a march. Dr. Bhuyan noted that this too can serve two purposes: “Tear gas is a chemical that needs to be flushed from the eyes, and the best way to do this is with lots of water,” she said.
Another aside, if you do come in contact with tear gas, Dr. Bhuyan says “Milk may provide some comfort but isn’t as effective for tear gas. While milk does provide some relief from pepper spray, baby shampoo diluted with water is most effective in breaking down oils from pepper spray.”
Back to pandemic germs: use hand sanitizer often, especially “hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol – this is what is effective at killing COVID-19.”
Keep Your Blood Sugar Up
Another way to keep your health and immune system up is to not run yourself down, so bring a snack. “A protein-rich snack can help keep your energy up.”
Beyond these tips, if you’re feeling sick or if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, please stay home to contain the spread. There are other ways you can contribute to this cause, including donations, listening to Black voices, and sharing activism opportunities with your community. If you attend a protest and live with someone who could be more susceptible to COVID-19, isolate at home, if possible.