Could Protests for Social Justice Lead Higher COVID-19 Cases?

Dr. Maria Lima

 

  Lately, we have seen a multitude of people protesting about George Floyd in the last few days. Therefore, there is a concern that worries public health authorities which is what is the risk that the number of Coronavirus infections could go up again. Our reporter, Esperanza Ceballos, talked to Dr. Maria Lima, Associate Dean for Research at the City University of New York School of Medicine, who has a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Public Health from Michigan State University and a long experience in infectious diseases. Click here to view the full interview.

See the complete translation below. 

Q: We have seen in the last few days many people in the street protesting. What is the route of transmission of the Coronavirus:

A: The Coronavirus is a respiratory virus and is transmitted through the air; the virus enters through the nose, the throat, and hands if one touches infected surfaces. Everybody’s concern is that we would not have an increase in Coronavirus infections. In New York City, the number of infections is decreasing. We are about to re-open the city. Because of the protests, the fear is that the number of infections may go up again.

Q: In many of these protests, we have seen that social distancing has not been observed, and in some cases, individuals were observed not using masks.

A: This is a serious concern. It is difficult to observe social distancing because one is excited to participate, obviously, but one should continue to use masks for protection. With a mask, participants in the protest can still be heard, and sing, and fully participate. The use of masks is crucial for individuals to avoid being infected.

Q. Therefore, is it possible that the number of cases of COVID-19 will increase in the next few weeks?

A. We hope not, because the transmission of the virus has been decreasing, but we worry; the physicians worry, the mayor worries, the governor worries, I worry, we all worry.

Q. Both the New Jersey governor and New York governor have recommended that everyone who has participated in the protests take a Coronavirus test.

A. Exactly. The density of people participating in the protests is high. Therefore, we must find out if we have been exposed to the virus. Recently, a college football player revealed that he has tested positive for the Coronavirus, so people who were participating in the protests around him could then be checked themselves.

Reporter: Thank you very much, Dr. Maria Lima, for being here with us in Noticias Univision 41 at 11 pm.

About Dr. Lima

Dr. Maria Lima has recently joined CUNY School of Medicine as Associate Dean for Research. Dr. Lima received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Public Health from Michigan State University. Dr. Lima’s training and experience are in infectious diseases and microbial immunity. She has focused her research efforts on understanding the molecular basis of infectious diseases, specifically, microbial pathogenesis and immunology of intracellular organisms, including Trypanosoma cruzi, to develop new modes of intervention. Her research program has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) American Heart Association (AHA), and other agencies. She has published leading papers that have contributed to understanding the molecular basis of infection and immunity to develop new drugs and vaccines against Trypanosoma cruzi. 

She has been the Principal Investigator or Program Director of major research infrastructure grants, such as the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI), the Endowment for Health Disparities supported by the National Institute in Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) as well as of the Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine and Population Health (NIMHD). She also obtained substantial Extramural Construction Grant funding to create or renovate Research Centers and Core Facilities.

Dr. Lima is a strong student advocate and has worked tirelessly to obtain innovative funding to support underrepresented minority training from NIH and NSF. She was the PI of the Research Training Initiative of Student Enhancement (RISE), Bridge to the Doctorate Program, and the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA).

Dr. Lima has received many national teaching and training awards, including the William Hinton Research Training Award from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the Distinguished Professional Mentor Award from the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) as well as the 10 Women to Watch. She has occupied leadership positions at national organizations such as the American Association for Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group in Education and Training (GREAT) and the Group on Research and Development (GRAND) as well as served in the AAMC Advisory Panel on Research. She is a current member of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Research Advisory Council and a member of Sigma Xi. 

The mission of serving the underserved, promoting health equity, and the commitment to underrepresented minority education of the CUNY School of Medicine were strong factors that attracted Lima to the CUNY School of Medicine. ”The CUNY School of Medicine is a jewel, and has contributed to diversifying medicine nationally for many years,” says Lima.” All of us are committed to ensuring the success and accomplishments of our graduates”.