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Protest peacefully with your safety in mind

Just five days ago, I wrote that communities throughout our county and country are outraged, angry, and frustrated as never before. On Friday, I wrote another blog about the uncomfortable but necessary work to dismantle racism.  

We acknowledge this is an emergency that can no longer be dismissed. Let us embrace this turning point and chart a new course together.  

And amid this turning point, it is important for people continue to protect their health.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought disparities in our racial and ethnic communities to the forefront. Black, along with Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, Latinx, and American Indian/Alaskan Native communities in Pierce County are getting sick at significantly higher rates

Some of the very groups motivated to peacefully protest are also those most at risk of COVID-19 illness—and some of the poorest health outcomes from COVID-19.  

Simply put, COVID-19 is killing people of color at higher rates than white Americans.  

When public health finds itself at the intersection of two critical aspects of our mission—to promote health equity and urge people to take actions to protect their health—our duty is to tell you how to reduce your risk. 

Wearing masks protects people from the spread of COVID-19, but so does staying home. 

We encourage people to wear face coverings. They should cover your nose and mouth. When not worn properly, they cannot help you protect those around you.  

Those who organize and participate in peaceful protests should keep these things in mind to protect those around you, your families, your friends and your community:     

  •  Participating in gatherings does pose a health risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • If you are a person in a high-risk category—such as over 65, immune compromised, or not in good overall health—or if you are connected with people in high-risk categories, consider ways to help and engage other than going to a protest. 

  • Always wear a mask when in public or when you cannot remain 6-feet away from others.  

  • Use hand sanitizer frequently. 

  • Do not shake hands or hug others. Give a toe or elbow bump instead.  

  • Stay in well ventilated outdoor spaces. 

 Critically important for anyone: 

  • If you have respiratory symptoms of any kind, you should stay home. 

  • If you have had known contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, you should quarantine yourself at home for 14 days. 

COVID-19 testing is available 

Because COVID-19 is widespread in our community and because gatherings pose higher risk for transmission, those who attend large gathering should consider seeking testing. Testing is widely available. In fact, Kroger Health provides free drive through testing at the Tacoma Dome. See our list of other community testing resources.   

We believe protest organizers care about protecting those most vulnerable to COVID-19. We urge you to share this public health information with your networks and emphasize these important public health precautions during any event. You should announce this information frequently during any gathering.  

Also, think of other activities you can ask those in high risk groups to do rather than attending marches and peaceful protests.  

Members of our racial and ethnic communities and other marginalized communities suffer significant health disparities: they are sicker, suffer more violence, and die younger. The health inequities mean they will never reach their full health potential. 

We want to protect and improve the health of all people. Now more than ever, we need everyone to act in ways to protect your own health and the health of those around—even people you may not know. We have made great progress to get Pierce County to Phase 2 of the Governor’s Safe Start plan. We want to ensure that participation in large gatherings today does not become another cause of more poor health outcomes in our community tomorrow.  

We are all connected. Together, we can heal from this pandemic and find ways to talk with those who may think differently. We can enrich one another with new ideas and points of view and grow in our understanding. We really can be better—together.