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Milwaukee leaders and doctors concerned of potential COVID-19 spike after four days of protests

NOW: Milwaukee leaders and doctors concerned of potential COVID-19 spike after four days of protests

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) - Milwaukee leaders and doctors say they are ‘highly concerned’ of an upcoming spike in coronavirus cases following area protests happening the last four days.

Mayor Tom Barrett says for the last few weeks the message has been to socially distance and stay home when possible, but thousands in the city are no longer following this advice after the death of George Floyd.

 “What I believe is a more deadly disease than the coronavirus-- is hatred,” said protester, Simien Robinson.

 “I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t concerned but at the moment, I think that this is more important,” said another protestor, Celeste Beals.

Protesters out on the streets Monday, say they’re risking their health to protest George Floyd’s death.

“If we choose to stay silent because coronavirus is outside, then this will all blow over again and this will keep happening,” adds Beals.

Meanwhile Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says if you look at national statistics, Wisconsin is a state where cases are still on the rise. The Medical College Of Wisconsin says the highest daily positive tests happened on Friday, May 29 for both the state and the city of Milwaukee.

“When you’ve got groups of people together and some are shouting and they’re close together, that’s one of the ways this disease gets spread,” said Mayor Barrett.

“I’m very concerned and troubled by the potential for a spike,” said Dr. John Raymond, President and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Area doctors not just concerned because of the crowding and lack of wearing masks, but also because of who coronavirus targets. More than 44-percent of Milwaukee COVID-19 deaths are African Americans.

“We know that African American and Latino populations and other disenfranchised minorities not only have a higher likelihood of getting the disease but many have worse outcomes,” said Dr. Raymond.

Protestors say they are doing their best in keeping others safe, some even bringing extra masks and hand sanitizers.

“I never leave home without my hand sanitizer and I have a couple in my bag and a couple of masks for everybody,” said Robinson.

“I’m willing to be out here and risking my own health and the health of my family to be out here and protesting for what could be my life,” adds Beals.

“For your own sake and the sake of everybody else you should be wearing a mask and secondly and equally important, if you feel that you have the symptoms of COVID-19 go get tested,” says Mayor Barrett.  

Mayor Barrett says he was hoping to get to the next phase of the re-opening plan last week, which would have included opening bars and restaurants but wasn’t able to do so. He says they will continue to evaluate what to do next.

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