Officials concerned about virus rebound

  • A man, wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus, attends a rally to support for potential presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential elections in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, May 31, 2020. A human rights group in Belarus says more than 30 people have been detained amid demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko running for another term. The presidential campaign is underway in Belarus despite the coronavirus outbreak after the parliament and government... Sergei Grits

  • People rally against police violence, and in remembrance of those who have died at the hands of police, including George Floyd, Sunday, May 31, 2020, at the State Capitol in downtown Lansing, Mich. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP) Matthew Dae Smith

  • Protester Christina Aiello, of Boston, displays a placard as she stands in an intersection Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Boston as she demonstrates against the death of George Floyd who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

  • Protesters demonstrate in Boston, Sunday, May 31, 2020, over the death of George Floyd who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

  • In this photo taken with a wide angle lens, demonstrators sit in an intersection during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. Protests were held in U.S. cities over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Mark J. Terrill

  • People, some of them kneeling gather in Trafalgar Square in central London on Sunday, May 31, 2020 to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis that has led to protests across the US. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) Matt Dunham

  • A worshipper wearing surgical gloves to prevent the spread of COVID-19 prays at al-Mirabi Mosque in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, May 31, 2020. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said mosques will open to the public for prayers from May 31 until June 20, except in Mecca, with precautionary measures and instructions. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) Amr Nabil

  • Worshippers wearing face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 prays at al-Mirabi Mosque in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, May 31, 2020. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said mosques will open to the public for prayers from May 31 until June 20, except in Mecca, with precautionary measures and instructions. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) Amr Nabil

  • Pope Francis delivers his blessing from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Francis celebrated a Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday, albeit without members of the public in attendance. He will then went to his studio window to recite his blessing at noon to the crowds below. The Vatican says police will ensure the faithful gathered in the piazza keep an appropriate distance apart. (Vatican News via AP) Divisione Produzione Fotografica

  • Nuns and faithful gather in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Pope Francis has cheerfully greeted people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, as he resumed his practice of speaking to the faithful there for the first time since lockdown began in Italy and at the Vatican in early March. Instead of the tens of thousands of people who might have turned out on a similarly brilliantly sunny day like this Sunday, in pre-pandemic times, perhaps a few hundred came to the... Alessandra Tarantino

  • Cardboards with photos of Moenchengladbach fans displayed on the stands prior the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Union Berlin in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. The German Bundesliga becomes the world's first major soccer league to resume after a two-month suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool) Martin Meissner

  • Reverend William Taylor, top left, and local people standing with social distancing observe a 30 second silence during a remembrance event as they add the names of five people who recently died to the community "We Grieve" wall at Clapton Common, in London, Thursday, May 28, 2020. The "WE GRIEVE″ wall has become a focal point for people who gather Thursdays to remember those who have died during the coronavirus pandemic, and organizer Rev. William Taylor says that the community found... Matt Dunham

  • In this photo taken on Thursday, May 28, 2020, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church priest, Father Yaroslav Rokhman wearing protective gear to protect against coronavirus, poses for a photo at a hospice in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. Rokhman, a priest in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, is pleased to be able to return to performing one of a cleric's most heartfelt duties. As the coronavirus pandemic's grip on Ukraine slowly recedes, priests received permission on May 22 to again hold... Evgeniy Maloletka

  • Christians wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the new coronavirus attend a service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, May 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) Ahn Young-joon

  • A man rides a city bike outside Buckingham Palace, as people enjoy the good weather in London, Sunday May 31, 2020. The public are being reminded to practice social distancing following the relaxation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP) Dominic Lipinski

  • People march from Parliament Square in central London on Sunday, May 31, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham) Matt Dunham

  • People gather in Trafalgar Square in central London on Sunday, May 31, 2020 to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis that has led to protests across the US. (AP Photo/Dominic Lipinski) Dominic Lipinski

  • People gather in Trafalgar Square in central London on Sunday, May 31, 2020 to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis that has led to protests across the US. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) Matt Dunham

  • A woman holds up a banner as people gather in Trafalgar Square in central London on Sunday, May 31, 2020 to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis that has led to protests across the US. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) Matt Dunham

Published: 5/31/2020 7:08:00 PM

MIAMI — In hindsight, Rosa Jimenez Cano realizes that attending a protest against police brutality was risky — and not just for the usual reasons.

“This can be kind of a tinderbox for COVID,” the 39-year-old venture capitalist said after attending a demonstration in Florida, one of many around the country sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer.

As more beaches, churches, mosques, schools and businesses reopened worldwide, the sudden and mass civil unrest in the United States is raising fears of new virus outbreaks in a country that has more confirmed infections and deaths than any other. And it’s not just in the U.S. — London hosted a large anti-racism protest Sunday where demonstrators violated social distancing rules.

Rosa Jimenez Cano said she planned to self-quarantine for 14 days, worrying she was perhaps “irresponsible” when she attended Saturday night’s protest in Miami, where she exposed herself to crowds of people.

Protests over Floyd’s death — the latest in a series of killings of black men and women at the hands of police in America — have shaken the country from Minneapolis to New York, from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Some turned into riots and clashes with police, leaving stores in flames and torched cars in the streets.

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.

“There’s no question that, when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity, when we have got this virus all over the streets ... it’s not healthy,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Two weeks from now across America, we’re going to find out whether or not this gives us a spike and drives the numbers back up again or not.”

The U.S. has seen over 1.7 million infections and nearly 104,000 deaths in the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected racial minorities in a nation that does not have universal health care.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Sunday she was very concerned that the protests in the nation’s capital and elsewhere could provide fertile ground for a new series of outbreaks. Many of the protesters were wearing masks, but there were no attempts at social distancing.

“We’ve been working very hard in these last eight to 10 weeks to not have any mass gatherings,” she said. “As a nation, we have to be concerned about a rebound.”

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.

Mass protests in connection with Floyd’s death were also being held in Europe.

In London, thousands of people marched Sunday chanting “No justice! No peace!” while carrying signs reading “Justice for George Floyd” and “Racism is a global issue.” Many demonstrators were not wearing masks and most in the crowd at Trafalgar Square were packed closely together. Britain has seen nearly 38,500 virus deaths, the second-highest in the world after the United States.

In Berlin, hundreds of protesters picketed outside the U.S. Embassy on Saturday night under the motto: “Justice for George Floyd.” Others marched near the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Many Americans returned Sunday to in-person church services for the first time in weeks and tens of thousands of mosques reopened across the Middle East, but countries from India to Colombia still saw rising numbers of new infections.

Nearly 6.1 million infections have been reported worldwide, with nearly 370,000 people dying, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true death toll is believed to be significantly higher, since many victims died of the virus without ever being tested.

The situation worsened Sunday in India, where new daily cases topped 8,000 for the first time and 193 more deaths were reported. Despite that, India still is easing restrictions on shops and public transport in more states beginning Monday, although subways and schools will remain closed.

In Saudi Arabia, mosques reopened Sunday for the first time in more than two months, but Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remained closed. In Jerusalem, throngs of worshippers waited outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque before it reopened. Many wore surgical masks and waited for temperature checks as they entered.

In Bogota, the capital of Colombia, authorities were locking down an area of nearly 1.5 million people as cases continued to rise. Mayor Claudia Lopez said no one in the working-class Kennedy area — inaugurated by the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961 — will be allowed out, except to seek food or medical care or in case of an emergency. Factories must also close.

In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Sunday that he would ask Parliament for a final two-week extension of the nation’s state of emergency that is set to expire on June 7. That allows the government to keep ordering lockdown measures to control its coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed at least 27,000 lives, many of them in overwhelmed nursing homes.

“We have almost reached safe harbor,” Sánchez said.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis cautioned people against being pessimistic as they emerge from coronavirus lockdowns.

During Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark Pentecost Sunday, Francis noted a tendency to say that “nothing will return as before.” That kind of thinking, Francis said, guarantees that “the one thing that certainly does not return is hope.”

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Kirka reported from London and Gorondi reported from Budapest. AP reporters from around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak




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