North Carolina sees increase in virus cases, won’t say it’s due to anti-police protests (Op-ed)

This editorial is brought to you by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.
NORTH CAROLINA – As protests and riots rage across the country, many have wondered at the apparent disregard for COVID-19 as social distancing edicts are ignored in favor of massive shows of packed togetherness, complete with vandalism, looting, and murder. 
Notably, North Carolina has seen a precipitous increase in Coronavirus cases, from 21,618 cases recorded May 22, to 38,171 as of June 9 – an additional 16,553 cases and an increase of 77%.
Naturally, one would assume that those protesting and rioting since May 25 would fall under harsh scrutiny for the lack of social distancing and the complete disregard for the maximum Phase 2 outdoor gathering limit of 25 persons instituted in North Carolina.
Not so fast.

Despite widespread, nationwide criticism and backlash for the previously held reopen protests throughout the country, North Carolina finds itself noncommittal on the issue of whether or not the more recent anti-police protests during the last two weeks might be to blame for the sudden uptick in cases.
Apparently,  it’s too soon to tell,“according to health experts” because of the “two-week incubation period for COVID-19.”
According to Web MD, however, symptoms typically appear between two and 12 days after contact, most typically on day five, and rarely after 14 days. According to the CDC, the median time to onset of symptoms is four to five days.
One health expert, Mandy Cohen, North Carolina Health Secretary, was interviewed this week on NPR by Rachel Martin, and expressed concern over the wave of cases.
Cohen said:
“In the last week we’ve had four days of more than a thousand new cases in each one of those days, and importantly, we are seeing our hospitalizations go up, so more people having (sic) serious illness.
“This is an early warning sign that we really need to take seriously, and make sure that we don’t forget that COVID-19 is with us.  I know folks are weary at this point, but we really need to stay vigilant, particularly in our state where we never really saw that first increase.”
A natural followup to these concerns might be to ask Cohen about mass gatherings and their potential risk, and to her credit, Martin did… but by ignoring the protests and riots, and instead asking:
“Is your state ready for mass gatherings, like a Trump rally?”

Cohen responded:
“The data and science tells us that mass gatherings are one of the most concerning kinds of activities related to viral spread….
We are, are (sic) asking our folks in North Carolina, if you’ve been to a mass gathering, like a protest, or going back to church, um, we want you to get tested.
“Um, we think that is exposure, we think that’s a risk, and we want folks to get tested, so, I am worried about mass gatherings. 
For us in North Carolina, our rules still are that we do not want to have any mass gatherings….
The, um, protests and going back to church have particular legal status, um, but the virus doesn’t know that, so we think those are risks, um, and want to make sure that folks are getting tested and taking care of themselves.”
To review:
There has been a massive 77% increase in COVID-19 cases in North Carolina since anti-police protests began.
“Experts” dodge the obvious implications of the timing of mass gatherings in the form of anti-police protests in relation to the huge uptick in cases, focusing on a supposed 14-day incubation period.
However, WebMD and the CDC state that the typical incubation period is between two and 14 days, with an average of five days cited by Web MD and the WHO.
The Health Secretary of North Carolina finds mass gathering activities to be “most concerning” but makes no call for cessation of the gathering together of thousands to protest police, instead calling for widespread testing and conflating the gathering by anti-police protesting/rioting with gathering by returning to church.
Questions of causality could easily be addressed by examining who, among the 16,553 new cases, was present at the protests and riots.  As Cohen is calling for those who attended “mass gatherings” to be tested, surely she must have some interest in the attendance of those who have already been tested. 
Only time will tell whether her claimed interest in public health and viral exposure outweighs her hesitance to address the elephant in the room.
While we wait for the Secretary to figure out how uneducated her words make her sound, here’s an article Law Enforcement Today brought you last week regarding a protester in North Carolina.
Video recently surfaced online of a man accidentally setting himself on fire while trying to start a fire at the Market House in Fayetteville, all within the view of protesters.

The incident took place on May 30th, where onlookers can be seen as someone apparently attempts to commit an act of arson. In a matter of seconds, that criminal act turned on the rioter – and fast.

Another video captured of the fire provides a closer view of what took place atop the steps of the Market House.

The individual can be seen trying to retrieve some sort of incendiary object from the ground that is already on fire, presumably something similar to a Molotov cocktail.

After picking the item up and attempting to throw it through a doorway, the flames immediately shower the rioter; setting his head and backside on fire.

The unidentified rioter begins running down the stairs, engulfed in flames, where onlookers then begin to rush toward him to help put out the flames on his body.

It was reported that the protests in Fayetteville remained non-violent from when they started at 3:00 p.m. on May 30th, until about 7:00 p.m. that evening. By 7:15 p.m., people outside of the Market House had caught wind of the fire burning inside.

It was said that the fire was extinguished at the Market House by approximately 8:00 p.m., but there were additional reports that came in saying that flames could be seen from the structure once again by 8:45 p.m., though it’s unknown if it was from a second intentional act of arson or remnants of the first.

Shortly after 9:00 p.m., a civil emergency response was enacted by police in the immediate area of the protests in Fayetteville.

The response was said to be an effort to “protect people, property and businesses. They’re trained to react to crowd control/violence.”

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

The Cross Creek Mall, which had been closed earlier due to concerns over the demonstrations, had apparently gathered a crowd of protesters by 10:15 p.m. that night.

However, there were also rioters and looters that had arrived at the mall, and apparently began looting the JCPenney store.

A number of arrests were reported to have occurred as a result, but it is unknown exactly how many people were taken into custody following the looting at the Cross Creek Mall.

The day following the riots and looting, Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin imposed a curfew for the city from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., considering the events that played out on the 30th.

Both Mayor Colvin and Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins believe that there are non-locals coming into the city and causing this sort of damage.

The mayor stated that the curfew that has been enacted will be able to help identify if that is in fact the case.

What’s more interesting, is that Fayetteville happened to be another city where some random pile of bricks were found laying around near were certain protesters convened. 

Locals who have been documenting the sites where criminal damage and riots took place took video of the very piles, and placed a link to a Dropbox account where a narrator shoots video noting the position of the random pile of bricks. 

Others have taken to Twitter to ask locals within Fayetteville to see if they can locate any other possible sites that contain bricks as well. 

Local small business owner Cyrus Glass, who owns the candy store Rocket Fizz, positioned himself outside of his shop to protect it from looters and rioters. He said that he feels like the police aren’t doing enough to stop the rioting. 

Glass held his position out front of the candy shop, with a stick in hand in case anyone attempts to harm his business:

“To be honest with you, I feel like the police department has failed me because they’re standing here and letting these guys vandalize businesses. With that being said, what I’m doing right now, I’m protecting my own.”

Things have gotten bad where people feel so worried about their private property during these riots that they’re literally having to position themselves armed with weapons outside of their candy shop. 

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