NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Protests are setting off fears of a second wave of the coronavirus this summer.

The virus may be spreading during marches and also inside holding cells.

More than 13,000 people have been arrested while protesting around the nation this week.

Marti Gould Cummings says he and others were peacefully protesting police brutality Tuesday when they say the NYPD arrested several of them along the West Side Highway, escalating another crisis — that is COVID-19.

“We were then put in a hallway, about 100 of us at a time, shoulder to shoulder with no mask, no social distancing,” Gould Cummings told CBS2’s Christina Fan.

Protesters say the holding pens they’re being kept in are overcrowded, making it impossible to socially distance.


Activists are criticizing the NYPD, saying the department’s decision to arrest protesters for misdemeanors rather than issuing tickets is creating a potentially life-threatening situation.

“Our clients are very worried about that. We have seen that jails have been incubators and epicenters of this virus,” said Corey Stoughton, with the Legal Aid Society.

RELATED STORY: Large Crowds Of Protesters Raise Fears Of Potential New Coronavirus Outbreaks

Across the city and country, doctors are bracing for a second wave of the coronavirus due to the mass protests. Health officials say the most effective way to stop COVID-19 is by social distancing, wearing face masks and hand washing.

The guidelines are difficult to follow during a demonstration.

“We know that shouting, yelling projects respiratory droplets much farther than just talking, and these people are of course less than six feet away from each other. And so, my concern is yes, there’s going to be a tremendous amount of transmission,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital NYC.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

To help keep numbers low, city leaders in Newark, New Jersey, are urging those who participated in marches to get tested immediately.

But protesters say the true change has to come from how the police handle peaceful protesters.

“They are putting the public at risk, not only for their brutality, but their lack of compassion and understanding that there is a pandemic happening,” Gould Cummings said.

Health experts are also concerned about police using teargas because it can cause coughing.

Even though the majority of protesters are young, they still fear there will be a sharp rise in hospitalizations in the next two to three weeks.

Comments (71)
  1. alpha1six says:

    Gee whiz…….poor babies, did they think they would get private cells? I’ve watched some of the demonstrations and they don’t seem to be concerned about distancing until they get arested.

    I certainly hope that the ops all took precautions to avoid the virus.

    1. James says:

      These were NOT peaceful demonstrations. Destruction of Public and Private property, looting (stealing), and Arson are not peaceful pursuits. What did FENDI, or ROLEX have to do with George Floyd? When arrested, some of the looters were asked, “Why?” There answer was, “I’m here for the bucks!” Nothing to do with George Floyd!

  2. dispatchdude says:

    We can only hope.

  3. Annette Gast says:

    Use common sense, don’t attend! Stay home, be safe if that is your concern! These ‘peaceful demonstrations’ have great political agenda and the whole pyramid of players hopefully soon will be uncovered, and the leaders brought to justice. As well as all the rioters and criminals that destroyed property, stole and endangered citizens. I am for sure ready if somebody comes to my house uninvited!

  4. sassygirl8318 says:

    You protested, you made your point, Yes, it is horrible what they did to George Floyd, however what did our local stores have to do with that? Nothing, just an excuse for smash and grab. And now you may have to deal with Coronavirus. Stay home! Do not contaminate innocent people.

  5. AB says:

    Best Day Ever!

  6. John says:

    If they are worried about coronavirus, why are they out protesting with thousands of other people and wrecking the place? These protests and the vitriol being shouted at the cops is disgusting. How many cops gave there lives during 9-11 and this is the way the city thanks them!!

  7. Patricia J Ziems says:

    Can you say “Carma”?

  8. KarmasAB-word says:

    Ahhhh… “cough cough” you poor snowflake rioters… “cough cough” I mean protesters.
    Let me give you a “cough cough” hug to make you “cough cough” feel

  9. I have to find my tiny violin

  10. LVP says:

    I am cheered by these unsympathetic comments as the major media would have me believe that every right-thinking person is in full support of continuing, criminal “unrest”.

  11. Mark Miller says:

    typical progressive nutcases. Commit a pile of crimes, disrupt society, beat the crap out of people then expect to be treated well.

  12. JeffC says:

    Zero sympathy. Not afraid to riot, loot, and burn. But now afraid of the virus? Too damn bad. Whine and cry somewhere else.

  13. Danielle says:

    If they fear the COVID they should have stayed home. No sympathy for the idiots. They are domestic terrorists and should get life in prison.

  14. Ralph Compton says:

    My heart just goes out to them. So sad the Antifa thugs have been arrested. I did not notice much distancing while they were burning and looting

  15. Brian Dillon says:

    Let’s start over from the top, this time with some accuracy; Arrested RIOTERS Say They’re Being Kept In Overcrowded Pens, Fear Coronavirus Could Spread Inside Holding Cells

    Fixed! Protesters have nothing to worry about. Rioters, however, need to worry. We’ve had enough of their sh!tshow.

  16. illinoisatlarge says:

    This is a joke, right? The protesters are worried about coronavirus only while cooling their heels? I knew our young were behind the rest of the world on all educational measures, but this goes a long way in showing just how stupid our kids are.

  17. Chris McGill says:

    This gives me hope some of these criminals will be be gone from society! little wanna be terrorists just hit the reality wall of their actions.

  18. Charlie Wax says:

    Sadly, this is the state of intelligence in this generation; i.e. IQ seems rather low. Particularly here, let’s participate in mass gatherings daily during the middle of a pandemic- marvelous. And that they do this in the most hard-hit state in the world during the biggest pandemic of the last century is just plain selfish. They’re not protesting; they’re showing off, getting attention, cheering, and acting like it’s a football match. This isn’t protesting. I think even Mr George Floyd would be embarrassed and not want this at all. If NYC reverts to a previous phase of reopening, these people will be directly to blame.

  19. J Bird says:

    Read about how the mitliary is used during times of civil unrest. You decide what you would recommend to the President.

  20. stemarhan says:

    Re: “Arrested Protesters Say They’re Being Kept In Overcrowded Pens, Fear Coronavirus Could Spread Inside Holding Cells” . . . This may actually end up well for society.

  21. Coleman McDonough says:

    I don’t care

  22. Joseph Joseph says:

    Too bad…It is a good way to cull the herd!

  23. thors944 says:

    Sorry, you don’t get to choose when you’re concerned about getting COVID because you certainly aren’t worried about it when you’re looting and setting fires!! STAY HOME if you’re so concerned about contracting the virus!!!!!

  24. SnakeUSMC says:

    The virus is called CHINESE COMMUNIST PEOPLES virus. Tough poop on these maggots who are locked up. Don’t do the crime and you will not do the time. The need to BREATH DEEPLY into each other’s mouths while they scream

  25. Hector Figueroa says:

    FANTASTIC!!!!! I hope every potential disease they can get from their shared toilets they get too.Locked up in pens like the vermin they are.

  26. Dale Atchley says:

    Sounds about right.

    Protest cops. Criminal does something bad to them and then they complain that there were no cops around to protect them.

    Join a mob rioting, looting, and wandering the streets with no worries about covid. Get arrested and now suddenly be concerned about getting covid as an excuse to get out.

  27. Pat Kinnick says:

    LOOTerans brought this on themselves

  28. Allie says:

    Is this an article from “The Onion?” Are. You kidding me? Now protestors/rioters are worried about COVID after putting themselves, their families AND every emergency worker in every major city in harms way during the protests/riots. Come on. This is farcical. Enough.

  29. CommonCents says:

    They’re lucky they’re not laying in a morgue… or a mass grave. That’s where they belong.

    1. Kirk Eidman says:

      It is a really good thing we don’t need to invade Europe to fight the Germans with this crowd.

  30. flyfisher111 says:

    They weren’t worrying about the virus while they were on the streets. Those who wore masks did it for concealment rather than the virus; hey, it was the first time they could wear a mask legally.

  31. CD says:

    Awww. The poor precious little snowflake protestors who rioted and looted, get arrested and are now worried about Covid. Too bad. Hope you get it. No one cares about you. You did it to yourselves.

  32. Stan Jones says:

    “Protesters”? Let’s call them what they are, rioters and looters.. and domestic terrorists.

  33. Polpot says:

    Thought they were just ticketing & releasing them in NYC & California & other states who coddle to these ridiculous policies.

  34. Buster says:

    Where did the protesters think they would be taken upon arrest? A plush hotel? Abide by curfew and no arrest. It’s that simple.

    1. Smaby says:

      Perhaps that is their expectation. The geniuses are doing putting the vagrants in 4 star hotels in San Fran. The lunacy is breath taking.

  35. Say What says:

    To quote from “Liar, Liar,” “Stop breaking the law, a$$hole!!!!”

  36. Tom Roberts says:

    These criminals who terrorized the city when it was already down should never be let out. In fact, they should be packed even closer together in order to save tax dollars.

  37. Marty Willowbee says:

    GOD. Maybe this is something the babies and cowards should have thought about before rioting and looting. Welcome to the crybaby generation.

  38. Joe Tonelli says:


  39. Gary Griffin says:


  40. Rodger Peden says:

    “natural selection”….at its finest.

  41. JDL says:

    So they weren’t concerned with the virus when in a tightly packed group of their brethren, but they are concerned with the virus now that they’ve been locked up. They should practice the ages old Buddhist philosophy of “don’t start none, won’t be none”.

  42. ozzonelayyer says:

    Now they complain. Didn’t seem to bother them when they were protesting.

  43. john lee says:

    At least now the can go home and self isolate for 14 days watching three new flat screen….

  44. Tom DeMuth says:

    Unbelievable, they march in large gatherings where they are exposed to the virus and presumably did something wrong (while else would they be arrested) and now we are suppose to take extraordinary steps to protect them from a virus? Who raised these people?

  45. john lee says:

    and now we are back to the COVID 19 narrative…

  46. Oh, so NOW they’re worried about COVID-19. Give me a break.

  47. Sandra says:

    Stupid is as stupid does. Put all the released prisoners back in jail, too. Wile they’re at it, lock up Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, et al. Trump is not dividing America. It just looks like that to people who hate Trump because he is not no their side. The Left is dividing America and Democrats will pay the price.

  48. looks like coronavirus statistics are getting better

  49. Mark steven chenoweth says:

    they did not give a thought to COVID 19 before they rushed out to mingle closely. Now, we are supposed to find facilities to accomodate all this? Unless they were violent let them go, screw it, and hopefully they go home and isolate for 2 weeks. No more problems as a result of all this please.

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