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Leader of St. Pete Black Lives Matter protests tests positive for coronavirus

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — One of the main organizers of the recent Black Lives Matter protests in St. Petersburg has tested positive for coronavirus.

Family members confirmed Tuesday that Terron Gland has coronavirus. Gland is one of the main leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement in St. Petersburg.

Gland was too sick to speak with us on camera. But his family spoke to Christine McLarty on his behalf. They told her that, as Gland recovers, he wants the focus to remain not just on Black equality – but on Black equity.

He and his family pointed out “the inadequate institutions that support the hindrance of Black equity.” They tell us they want African American generational wealth and to get rid of the institutions that hinder that cause.

Protests and demonstrations have been taking place all across the country, including in the Tampa Bay area, to promote and spread that message. The death of George Floyd while in police custody, along with the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, sparked the nationwide movement that started in late May.

Despite the size of the crowds the protests and demonstrations have drawn, studies have suggested there’s no link between the nationwide protests and the spike in coronavirus cases that some areas have seen.

The National Bureau of Economic Research last month studied protests in more than 300 of the largest cities in the United States. They found little to no evidence of a direct connection between COVID-19 spread and the protests.

Dr. Jon Thogmartin, a Tampa Bay area medical examiner, told WFLA last month it appears the virus has a hard time being transmitted outdoors.

“I’m a big observer of empirical evidence. Look at New York City’s numbers. They have not gone up. What has been happening in New York City? They’ve had protests. Those people are out on the streets, no social distancing, right up against each other. Philadelphia had a sea of people right next to each other outdoors, most with masks and they have not seen an increase,” he said. “If that’s not empirical evidence for outdoors not being a risk and mask-wearing working, I don’t know what it is. As opposed to (Florida,) we open bars and restaurants, what do we get? We get a big wave of the demographic that goes to bars and restaurants.”

Meanwhile, as Gland recovers, he and his family are encouraging the community to attend a St. Pete City Council meeting on Thursday to make their voices heard.

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