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Local leaders fear protests may increase cases of COVID-19 as numbers begin to climb

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Around the Bay Area local leaders are concerned about seeing a second wave of the coronavirus as positive cases are on the rise.

It’s something this country has not seen in some time. Beyond the passionate cries for the end of police brutality and racial injustice, crowds of hundreds and thousands of people have gathered in one place.

“Specifically we’re here to speak or and represent the black community and make sure that there’s justice for the people who have lost their lives,” said Hayley Hodgdon, who came to protest at Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa.

Protests are happening throughout the country amid a pandemic.

“The need for things to change and where we’re at in our country is superseding that. People are so upset, and if you have nothing left to lose and your life is already threatened maybe the virus isn’t top of mind for you,” said Michelle C., who’s concerned about the spread of the virus.

It is on the mind of local leaders though. On Thursday at the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group meeting members expressed concern over new numbers from the Department of Health.

“For us, the last 14 days, both the numbers and the trajectories have been high and are increasing,” said Dr. Douglas Holt, director of the Hillsborough County Health Department.

8 On Your Side found the number of deaths may not be climbing, but the upward trend of COVID-19 cases is important to note as protests continue and Phase 2 of reopening Florida will allow more people into businesses.

Protestors say they’ll be wearing their masks, albeit for different reasons.

“It’s not necessarily covid. For me it’s just to protect my identity in case anything were to go south,” said Hodgdon.

“Also, cause I don’t want to get sick and obviously that’s a big part of it too, and passing it on to people,” said Alyssa Ruiz, who also came to protest at Curtis Hixon Park.

The Florida Health Department questioned at first whether the rising trend might be because more testing is available. If there really is a spread of the virus re-surging we’ll need the additional testing.

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