Skip to:

"A Riot Amid a Pandemic: Did the Virus, Too, Storm the Capitol?"

The New York Times interviewed Anne Rimoin, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of epidemiology and director of the Fielding School’s UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health, about the public health implications of the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Share: 
Date: 
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Contact: 

The mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday did not just threaten the heart of American democracy. To scientists who watched dismayed as the scenes unfolded on television, the throngs of unmasked intruders who wandered through hallways and into private offices may also have transformed the riot into a super-spreader event.

The coronavirus thrives indoors, particularly in crowded spaces, lingering in the air in tiny particles called aerosols. If even a few extremists were infected — likely, given the current rates of spread and the crowd size — then the virus would have had the ideal opportunity to find new victims, experts said.

“It has all the elements of what we warn people about,” said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “People yelling and screaming, chanting, exerting themselves — all of those things provide opportunity for the virus to spread, and this virus takes those opportunities.”

READ MORE