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De Blasio Tells Covid Contract Tracers Not to Ask Positive Cases If They’ve Attended BLM Protests

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a news briefing at City Hall in New York City, March 14, 2020. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

New York City’s coronavirus contact-tracing force are not asking those who test positive for COVID-19 whether they recently attended a Black Lives Matter demonstration, a city spokesperson confirmed.

“No person will be asked proactively if they attended a protest,” Avery Cohen, a spokesperson for de Blasio, told THE CITY about the directive. “If a person wants to proactively offer that information, there is an opportunity for them to do so.”

De Blasio, who announced his program last month to hire 1,000 “contact tracers,” has promised to reveal Monday how many city residents have been questioned so far.

Tracers are supposed to ask those who test positive for Covid-19 to “recall ‘contacts’ and individuals they may have exposed,” Cohen explained. Tracers also probe for any “close contacts” of the patient — anyone that has been within six feet of the infected person for at least 10 minutes.

New York City officials have taken a soft stance over fears that mass protests could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases. “Let’s be clear about something: if there is a spike in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks, don’t blame the protesters. Blame racism,” Mark Levine, head of the city council’s health committee, tweeted earlier this month.

The mayor, whose daughter was arrested during a Manhattan protest over the death of George Floyd, is facing a lawsuit from Catholics and Jews for violating the constitutional rights of religious New Yorkers by placing restrictions on religious services. But De Blasio has pushed back on claims that he has been hypocritical in allowing protests to proceed while keeping religious services shuttered.

“When you see . . . an entire nation, simultaneously grappling with an extraordinary crisis seated in 400 years of American racism, I’m sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services,” de Blasio said in a press conference earlier this month.

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