Could Savannah see a spike in COVID-19 cases following weekend protest?


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Hundreds of peaceful protesters united in the Hostess City on Sunday to call for change and honor the life of George Floyd.

Many, but not all, wore masks and stood in close proximity as they held up their fists and signs in solidarity.

The lack of social distancing could lead to a potential rise in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.

“Anytime there is a large gathering of people, especially large gatherings where a significant percentage are not practicing their social distancing and/or wearing masks, you’re certainly at risk to see a surge,” Coastal Health District director Dr. Lawton Davis told NOW.

“But we don’t typically see those numbers reflected in the testing until 10 days to three weeks after the event,” Davis said.

Cases in the Savannah area remain low compared to other spots, he says, but it’s not yet clear if the rise in people outdoors during Memorial Day weekend and the May 31 protest will impact COVID-19 numbers.

“The middle of June could be an interesting time,” Davis said. “We don’t know that it will happen, but that would certainly be about the time frame we’d be looking at to see an increase in numbers.”

He noted it helps that some protesters were wearing masks, which lowers the chance of spreading the virus to others.

Having the large protest outdoors was also beneficial. “It’s better than having a bunch of people sequestered in a room or building,” Davis said. “That seems to be less risky outside than inside.”

Anyone concerned about a possible COVID-19 exposure following the weekend’s protest but aren’t showing any symptoms should wait at least five to seven days to get tested.

In most cases, that’s about the time it takes to see a positive result, according to Davis.

“If someone were there and developed symptoms compatible with COVID-19, then of course that would be the time to go ahead and have a test done,” he said.

The Coastal Health District is offering COVID-19 testing six days a week

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