Nashville’s Recent George Floyd Rallies Could Spread COVID-19 Further, Medical Expert Warns


The people in Nashville who either attended or marched at any of the recent rallies honoring George Floyd are at risk of catching COVID-19, according to Meharry Medical College President James Hildreth.

Hildreth said this at a press conference Thursday. Nashville Mayor John Cooper stood nearby as Hildreth said this. Two weeks ago, Cooper attended a George Floyd rally at Legislative Plaza and, in so doing, seemed to violate his own restrictions on how many people may gather in one place.

Hildreth called such rallies “the perfect storm for getting the virus transmitted.”

“My opinion has not changed and is shared by many other health care experts,” Hildreth said.

“When you have thousands of people in close proximity to each other with a virus that has a prevalence somewhere between 1 percent and 5 percent, many people not wearing masks, yelling at the top of their lungs, creating aerosols, there is a great possibility that someone who came to the rally without the virus is going to leave the rally with the virus.”

Cooper, however, said no evidence shows the recent demonstrations caused additional COVID-19 outbreaks.

“Most of the protestors have been wearing masks — not all — but the compliance has been relatively good. As part of having protests, it’s all part of life in the pandemic,” Cooper said.

“People have Constitutional rights. You can’t suspend the Constitutional rights due to a pandemic. If people want to peacefully assemble and bring to the attention of the government and each other vital problems then I believe we are allowed to do that. I have encouraged them to wear face masks. They have, in my experience.”

But Hildreth said he fears “a spike in cases,” not only in Nashville but in other cities that hosted George Floyd rallies.

“This fear is enhanced by the fact that we are reopening the economies and, quite honestly, some people are doing it better than others and some people are following the mitigation steps better than others. Those of you who have participated in recent marches and rallies, I strongly encourage you to get a COVID-19 test,” Hildreth said.

“This is whether you think you have been exposed to the virus or not because that will help us keep the virus in check. And a special word to the African-Americans in the community who might be listening to me. Most of the people who participated in rallies who have come to get tests are white. We need everyone who has participated in the rallies and marches to get tested.”

As reported, Cooper spokesman Chris Song told The Tennessee Star earlier this month that “Cooper has consistently supported the right of all Nashvillians to safely engage in public demonstrations while observing public health protocols.”

“This includes his vocal support for the Safer at Home Order protest in downtown Nashville on April 19, Song said.

During an April 20 press conference, Cooper said he was “all for the rally.”

“I just want everyone to do it safely and remember to socially distance yourself while you’re doing the rally. This is a period of time where we want public participation, but we want it safely. We hear their message and agree with the message,” Cooper said at the time.

“We want a restart. It’s just going to be a priority to have the restart done safely, not to undo the progress. What we really want is long-term mitigation of the disease to keep our health care capacity in place for those who may, unfortunately, need it.”

Several thousand people attended the George Floyd rally at Legislative Plaza. Cooper thanked many of them for wearing masks to protect themselves against the virus. But many of those people, especially those near the speaker’s platform, stood close to one another, by only a matter of inches — and not feet.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “James Hildreth” by John Cooper







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3 Thoughts to “Nashville’s Recent George Floyd Rallies Could Spread COVID-19 Further, Medical Expert Warns”

  1. Cannoneer2

    Cases are spiking in Williamson County. But, hey, business is open!

  2. Kevin

    Well this creates quite the conundrum. Will the Antifa/Black Lives Matter crowd of America haters hold a “Killer John” protest outside of Cooper’s house like they did to Governor Lee?

    Of course not, this is just another case of Leftist hypocrisy. But collectively, Tennesseans and Americans see through it!

  3. Mary

    Blah blah blah. Then why did Chicken Coop allow it? God forbid we go to Church. There will NOT be another lockdown.