By Martin Santiago, Broker-Associate
While most Americans agree with the protesters’ cause, some detractors worry about the cities with the largest marches, where people are gathering in the thousands in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those arguments aren’t always made in good faith, but the concerns have some validity. How big is the risk that the protests could set off a new wave of infections across the country? How will the stock market react? Will it plunge again? Will the government issue billions of dollars again?
We should be worried. We see people who are not maintaining social distancing; there’s the potential for those people to spread the virus. But by the same token, I think we’re currently facing two public health crises. The first is COVID. And the second is racism and police violence that we’ve been facing for centuries. As tens of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in recent days, the transmission of the coronavirus is still rampant across the U.S. Anyone joining the protests should be aware that there is a risk.
But that isn’t an argument for people to stay home. As many scientists and doctors have agreed – and as the protesters themselves have argued – police brutality against the black community is its own urgent health crisis. And it’s not lost on the protesters that the same community already so devastated by the pandemic is now most likely to suffer from the virus’ spread at the protests. Those demonstrators have chosen to take on the risks from the coronavirus pandemic because they have decided that the public health risks from police brutality are more urgent and immediate.
Densely packed crowds – this is the main reason to worry. It’s kind of a setup for viral transmission. People trumps everything, every other environmental factor. So, it doesn’t matter if it’s hot, it doesn’t matter if it’s sunny, with UV lights. As long as there are enough people, the virus is happy because it’s trying to jump from somebody’s nose or mouth into somebody else’s nose or mouth.
The danger varies by location, though. In a place such as Los Angeles, where COVID-19 cases are still quite high, having large gatherings are more likely to spread the virus than in a place like Portland, Oregon.
Shouting, chanting, and singing: Any time a person projects their voice – to shout the names of those killed by police, for example – the particles that could carry the virus travel farther. As a result, some health experts recommend people use megaphones to magnify their voices and rely more heavily on signs to spread their message.
The mass demonstrations nationwide could impact public health as the country continues to grapple with both the coronavirus pandemic and tough economic conditions. While protesters have good reason to take to the streets, their congregation in close spaces could lead to another spike in COVID-19 infections, leading to another reason for employers to delay calling employees back into the office.
In California, cases jumped 11% in days, from 98,980 reported on June 3 to 110,583 cases on June 7, according to the health department’s data. If this number will continue to rise, some investors might sell their stocks as a second wave of COVID-19 quarantine is looming. If we will be in quarantine again, the market will destabilize, and this will have a ripple effect on the real estate market which was holding up for the past three months.
At the end of the day, we all want to live a normal live without COVID-19. We should all do our share in beating the virus.
* * *
Martin Santiago is a broker associate at Compass Burlingame, a full-service residential brokerage firm. He is also a licensed mortgage loan originator & an International Associate at the American Institute of Architects. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be a formal legal advice nor the formation of a broker-client relationship. Call or email Martin at (415)850-7704; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.teammsquare.com.