Oklahoma State linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga revealed on his Twitter Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a protest in Tulsa.
The rising senior noted that he had been wearing protective gear while in attendance and cautioned those who continued to participate in protests to do so carefully.
Health officials in the U.S. have expressed concerns that the nationwide protests over George Floyd's death in police custody could spark a wider spread of the COVID-19 virus after many cities have begun reopening amid the ongoing pandemic.The U.S. has seen over 1.8 million infections and nearly 106,000 deaths in the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected racial minorities in a nation that does not have universal health care.
Even the many protesters wearing masks are not guaranteed protection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cloth masks keep infected people from spreading the virus but are not designed to protect wearers from getting it.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms warned that “there is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.”
“We have two crises that are sandwiched on top of one other,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said.
Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus could unwittingly infect others at protests where people are packed cheek to jowl, many without masks, many chanting, singing or shouting. The virus is dispersed by microscopic droplets in the air when people cough, sneeze, sing or talk.
“Whether they’re fired up or not, that doesn’t prevent them from getting the virus,” said Bradley Pollock, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis.
Massive demonstrations have continued in scores of American cities, marking a level of unrest unseen for decades over the weekend and into the week after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25.
Sports organizations and several athletes spoke against the police brutality that eventually ended Floyd’s life.
Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after former officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him down and pressed on Floyd’s neck with his knee as the man pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against Chauvin from third-degree murder to second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd and also charging the three other officers involved, according to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. All of the officers had been fired after video of Floyd’s death surfaced.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.