MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — As protesters filled the streets of Charlotte, so did concerns about a virus that's still in Mecklenburg County and is spreading at a steady rate.
"We are still fighting a pandemic," said Victoria Fields, a protester who was out along South Tryon on Tuesday passing out masks to artists creating a 'Black Lives Matter' mural on the street.
"We want everyone out here to be safe," she added.
A majority of protesters have been seen wearing masks or face coverings but some have not. Social distancing hasn't been well-practiced as protesters pack the streets, in close proximity, and at times have linked arms.
"I am very conscious of it and I just want everybody to be safe," said one protester named Johnny, who has been seen skating along protesters nearly every night.
Many say it's a risk they're willing to take for the change they want.
"Me personally, I feel like when you're out, you're a little bit better than being enclosed with a bunch of people," said another protester named Altomika.
Still, health officials are concerned and are asking all protesters, with symptoms or without, to get tested for COVID19.
"We received guidance this morning in writing from the state that we should be making testing available to anyone who attended any of the protests," said Gibbie Harris, Mecklenburg County's Health Director, as she gave a COVID-19 update to county commissioners.
Harris sold county leaders that social distancing efforts have slowed in the community.
As of Tuesday, the county had 5,606 positive coronavirus cases, according to the latest data provided by the health department.
More than half have recovered, said Harris. However, 115 people have died from the virus.
"Please, if you've been protesting, go get COVID tested, wear your mask, wash your hands and social distance," said Commissioner George Dunlap, chair to the board.
Back on the streets, protesters are taking some precautions and some say they will heed warnings and go get tested.
"For what it's worth, we can't continue to fight if we're dying at alarming rates," said Fields.
A movement for change, but a reminder of the COVID-19 times.