COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As demonstrations take place across Ohio, Columbus’s health commissioner is concerned about the possible spread of COVID-19 among the protesters.

Columbus Public Health director Dr. Mysheika Roberts said she, like those demonstrating, is frustrated by the racism that has been seen across the nation.

“For me, personally, it is devastating to see what brown and black people go through in our country,” Roberts said. “It hurts. It hurts to see blatant racism and sometimes less blatant racism.”

Roberts said she supports the freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest. With people demonstrating, however, she is worried about COVID-19 guidelines not being followed.

“I saw so many individuals out there in very close proximity not wearing a face-covering and I immediately thought to myself, ‘Oh no,'” she said. “We could easily be setting up a situation where COVID-19 is spreading among these protestors.”

Roberts explained that she prefers individuals not participate in mass gatherings and perhaps find different ways to protest. She explained that face-coverings are critical for people to stay healthy.

“If they are going to participate in these protests, they need to do so safely and peacefully and they need to make sure they wear a face-covering,” she said. “If they do exhibit symptoms that could be suggestive of COVID-19, it’s very important they get tested immediately and stop attending the protests.”

To date, Columbus Public Health has reported 4,461 positive COVID-19 cases along with 213 deaths within its jurisdiction.

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