NYC councilman: If COVID-19 cases spike after protests, blame racism

by WorldTribune Staff, June 4, 2020

Health officials have warned that the large, tightly-packed protests occurring nationwide could lead to a new wave of coronavirus cases.

New York City Council member Mark Levine. /

If that happens, the reason will be “racism,” a New York City councilman said.

Mark Levine, chairman of the council’s health committee, on Wednesday said the lack of social distancing will not be to blame if COVID-19 cases spike following the protests.

Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania protester arrested after head-butting and kicking police said he had coronavirus.

Lancaster County President Judge David Ashworth said that Julio V. Torres, 22, wore no mask when arrested Monday night despite having been told to self-quarantine.

“During the arraignment, it was discovered that [Torres] tested positive, was told to self-quarantine and chose to attend or participate in the protest without proper social distancing, without a proper facemask and has placed other people at risk—both the public who were peacefully participating in the protest and law enforcement,” said Judge Ashworth in a statement on LancasterOnline.

“Let’s be clear about something: if there is a spike in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks, don’t blame the protesters,” Levine tweeted. “Blame racism.”

Levine then added: “And let’s remember that the police are increasing covid risk by: * using tear gas* herding demonstrators into tight spaces * putting people in crowded jails”.

Some of the responses to Levine’s tweets included:

“What can you say? This guy thought it was a good idea to put active Covid patients in with the most vulnerable population which had the same results as a gas chamber. Any caregiver of the elderly knew what the outcome would be.”

“Weren’t you encouraging mass gatherings as the virus was taking off? I blame you, reckless unaccountable politician.”

As a matter of fact, Levine was encouraging mass gatherings as coronavirus was taking off in the city.

In February, Levine had told New Yorkers that they were “missing out” if they didn’t join thousands of unmasked people in Chinatown to celebrate China’s Lunar New Year holiday.

“In powerful show of defiance of #coronavirus scare, huge crowds gathering in NYC’s Chinatown for ceremony ahead of annual #LunarNewYear parade,” Levine tweeted. “Chants of “be strong Wuhan! If you are staying away, you are missing out!”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo encouraged all protesters to get tested for coronavirus. He noted New York has seen 30,000 people demonstrate statewide in recent days, including 20,000 in New York City alone. The state has more than 375,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

Meanwhile, the Columbus Public Health office said an individual who tested positive for coronavirus and was symptomatic attended the recent protests in downtown Columbus.

The person was symptomatic on May 27, Columbus Public Health said. The protests in Ohio’s capital city began on May 28 and around 400 people were reported in attendance on the first night and hundreds more the following days. Columbus Public Health did not specify which day of protesting the individual with COVID-19 was in attendance.

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