FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — New COVID-19 reporting guidelines in Massachusetts prompted a spike in Fall River Tuesday and is not connected to the unrest occurring across the nation, according to Mayor Paul Coogan.
Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said the state would begin including “probable” COVID-19 cases and deaths, and that the “newly reported totals are a result of a retrospective review of probable cases and deaths dating back to March 1.” An additional 25 cases were reported Wednesday in Fall River, bringing the city’s total to 1,363.
The death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died after an officer kneeled on his neck while he was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe, has sparked protests across the country.
Coogan said he hopes that large crowds of protesters will not have a long-term impact on the number of coronavirus cases in the city.
“I’m hoping it doesn’t have that impact, but again, if everything they say is true, crowds like that could have a long term effect,” Coogan said.
Several protests quickly devolved into violence, vandalism and looting, including ones in Providence and Boston, and have prompted cities and towns across the nation to issue curfews in an effort to prevent additional violence.
Coogan said he does not believe a citywide curfew will be necessary since the protests in Fall River have been primarily peaceful.
“If we had to, we’d do them, but we will hold off as long as we can,” he said. “We like people to protest peacefully and there’s nothing wrong with that, so we’ll see how it plays out.”