Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D) said he is confident that the organizers of local protests against police misconduct are doing everything they can to make sure that participants follow recommended safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We support every Howard County resident’s right to organize and protest. The demonstrations in Howard County have been well organized and are aware of the risks during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Ball told Maryland Reporter.com on Monday. “The organizers for these protests have advised participants to follow thorough precautions to keep participants and our community safe, which are in line with our Health Department’s recommendations. This includes encouraging all attendees to practice physical distancing if possible, wear face coverings, and stay home if they’re not feeling well. We also continue to recommend that attendees get tested after an event and self-quarantine for 14 days.”
State officials, including Gov. Larry Hogan, have expressed concern that having so many people gathered in close quarters could lead to a substantial increase in the number of people infected with the virus at a time when COVID-related hospitalizations are on the decline. So far, Maryland has not experienced that second-wave that other states are starting to see.
Hogan and others have continued to urge protestors to practice social distancing and to wear masks. But some protestors have not taken such precautions. The protests that MarylandReporter.com attended showed that some were wearing masks and others were not but in most cases, there was no social distancing of six feet apart.
Trump’s Political Rally and Mass Infection Concerns
Another situation with the potential for mass infection recently unfolded on the national level.
President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla. on Saturday, and was heavily criticized by many in the media for his decision to hold the event during the pandemic due to the obvious risks. But the media has focused considerably less attention to the risks posed by mass protests. And the coverage of the protests has been largely favorable.
Some conservative pundits call this an example of liberal media bias.
“It’s not so much a double standard. It’s just the media standard — everything left is right and everything right is wrong. The press are nearly 100% against Trump,” Media Research Center Vice President of Business and Culture, Dan Gainor, said. “Our tracking number showed the evening news Trump coverage was 99.5% negative in May. That’s the kind of number you saw in the old Soviet Union with Pravda.” (Gainor serves on the board for MarylandReporter.com.)
Del. Trent Kittleman (R-Howard-Carroll) echoed similar sentiments.
“I have wonderful very liberal friends who say that Trump never gets a fair shake from the media no matter what he does…So that sort of goes without saying.”
Kittleman said the risk for exposure is the same for both the protests and the rally.
“It’s the same thing. The rally and the protests. But again, I don’t ever expect to have the media look at Trump in any way shape or form that is fair.”
Kittleman said protestors should be strongly encouraged to wear masks but she stopped short of saying it should be required.
Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City) noted that many of the protesters she has seen in Baltimore do wear masks. She emphasized that the fight the protestors are engaged in is vastly different than that of a re-election campaign.
“They feel very strongly that they’re fighting for life. They’re fighting for life in America. They’re fighting for black lives. And they’re fighting for America to live up to its promise. It’s different than a campaign rally which was just completely discretionary.”
Carter elaborated on that point.
“The president has a different responsibility and it certainly wasn’t necessary that he hold that campaign rally. Whereas, I believe, that the marchers and the protestors feel differently…it’s about our very lives.”