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About 200 hundred people gathered in Pueblo to protest the death of George Floyd on June 1 2020. With the economy reopening, and easing social distancing measures, health officials are concerned COVID-19 cases will increase. (PULP Colorado)

As more reopens and protests continue, masks and monitor become Pueblo’s health mission against COVID-19

As protests continue to ripple throughout the nation following the murder of George Floyd, the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment is encouraging protestors to take certain precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Public health officials are advising those who have recently attended a protest or large gathering to get tested for COVID-19. The Health Department’s COVID-19 testing site at the Colorado State Fairgrounds is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Testing is free for the first 250 individuals to arrive on any given day.

“We have yet to hit the 250 mark, so head on down and get tested after you have been to a protest,” Health Department public information officer Sarah Joseph said. “We have actually only made it to 248 one day so we have always had enough tests every day.”

For those attending any upcoming protests or large gatherings, one of the most important strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a cloth mask, Joseph said. She also recommends that attendees distance themselves at least six feet away from those outside their household.

“When you do go home, it’s encouraged to wash your hands, wash your clothes, take a shower, bathe, and then monitor yourself for symptoms for the next two to fourteen days,” Joseph said.

While certain precautions may prevent the spread of COVID-19 at protests, those at “high-risk” are advised to stay home and support their causes in other ways. Individuals who are considered to be “high-risk” by the Health Department include those over 65 years of age and those with medical conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“We encourage them to stay home,” Joseph said. “It’s safer at home… They should not put themselves at risk and should voice their opinions in a safer way.”

Jacob Topping, organizer of the “March for George Floyd” at the Pueblo Riverwalk on June 1, said there are several ways individuals unable to attend a protest can make their voice be heard and offer support causes like Black Lives Matter.

“There are a lot of people that I know that were out of town and lived in another state even,” Topping said. “I reached out to them and they were willing to post their flyer on their Facebook, on their Instagram, on their Twitter… I think really just helping spread the word and get the information out about where the protest is happening or what time.

“Stuff like that could be really helpful to the organizers and that’s one way you could help the movement and by chipping in to some of the Freedom funds that are being organized throughout the country whether it is the Colorado Freedom Fund or the Minneapolis Freedom Fund to pay for things that happen during these protests,” Topping said.