It’s important to consider your personal risk and the risk of those in your family for a severe case of COVID-19. Do you have conditions that weaken your immune system or put you at higher risk for getting critically ill? Do you live with or provide care to someone with an increased risk profile? Understanding your risk profile will help you make decisions about how to act.
If you decide to participate in protests, there are ways that you can minimize your chance of a COVID-19 infection.
- Have a testing plan: Figure out in advance how to get tested for COVID-19 in your community. If you’re going to be out, you may contract the coronavirus. Forward members can get tested at any of our Forward locations.
- Check your symptoms: Do not attend if you feel ill or have a fever.
- Avoid wearing contacts and make-up: Contacts and make-up can exacerbate symptoms of tear gas and make it more difficult to rinse your eyes out.
- Prepare a protest kit: Ensure you have a mask, hand sanitizer, water, snacks, and something to cover your eyes (e.g. glasses, goggles). Bring noise makers and signs to amplify your voice without having to yell, as yelling can increase the production of respiratory droplets that spread the virus.
- Wear a mask or another form of face covering: Your mouth and nose should be covered. Consider wearing something to cover your eyes to protect against COVID-19 and tear gas.
- Stay in a small group: Stick with a group of people to limit your unknown contacts. Try to stay six feet away from other individuals whenever possible.
- Move frequently: Move around to limit prolonged time around another group.
- Keep outdoors: Limit going into buildings and stay in open areas as much as you can.
- Follow best practices for tear gas exposure: If you are exposed to tear gas, the first step should be getting away from the source. Plain, cold water is the safest way to rinse your eyes. Tear gas will make you cough and cause eye irritation. If these effects do not subside within 15–30 minutes after leaving the area of exposure, seek medical attention.
- Sanitize clothing and items: When you return home, the best thing to do is to remove your outside clothes and separate them from the clothes you wear inside the house. If possible, use sanitizing wipes to clean your belongings like your phone, keys, or watch, as soon as you get into the house. Wash your hands thoroughly to prevent transmission of the virus.
- Distance if possible: After protesting, stay away from people who are immunocompromised, have chronic conditions, or are senior for a few weeks after you participate. Try to minimize contacts in general following the protest for 14 days.
Protests in support of Black Lives Matter are happening across the country. In response, Forward has launched new protocols for our Care Team to support members who choose to protest. The Care Team is now better equipped to assess risk of a severe COVID-19 infection during this unprecedented time and provide guidance on protesting safely to minimize the risk of infection. We encourage Forward members to chat with their Care Team if they are unsure about their risk level or want help making this decision.