New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said that those who have been participating in protests in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody last week should “assume” that they are “infected” with coronavirus, suggesting they get tested.
During his press conference on Thursday, Cuomo addressed the protests and unrest in New York and across the nation this week but reminded people that the COVID-19 crisis is still ongoing.
“If you were at one of those protests, I would, out of an abundance of caution, assume that you are infected,” Cuomo said Thursday. “One person, one person can infect hundreds if you were at a protest.”
He added: “You went to a protest, get a test. Tell people, act as if you may have been exposed.”
Cuomo went on to explain that at these protests in New York City and throughout the state of New York, “there is no social distancing.”
“You look at the encounters with the police—the police are right in their face,” Cuomo said. “Twenty thousand protesters in New York City. Thousands of protesters on Long Island. These are big numbers.”
Cuomo warned earlier this week that protests could be “counterproductive” to months spent working to slow the spread of coronavirus, and said they “could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people, after everything that we have done."
"New York City opens next week, it took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart?" Cuomo said of the mass protests. "We have to take a minute and ask ourselves, what are we doing here?"
"This is not advancing a reform agenda, this is not telling government officials to change, this is not helping beat the coronavirus," he continued. "It's counterproductive for New York City in many ways."
Cuomo’s comments come as New York begins to consider its “Phase 2” reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic. New York City has yet to begin its “Phase 1,” which is not expected until next week.
Meanwhile, New York has been considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. On Thursday, the state reported more than 374,000 positive cases of COVID-19, with more than 205,000 of those cases being reported in New York City. The state has lost more than 24,000 New Yorkers to the virus.
Cuomo shifted to the unrest amid the protests -- some of which turned violent, prompting peaceful protests to turn into riots with individuals burning police cars, and looting stores across the country.
“You have scenes of looting that are on videotape that are indefensible and inexcusable,” Cuomo said. “These people should be charged for the crime that they are committing.”
He added: “I understand the political environment. I also understand that the law is the law and they should charge crimes appropriately.”
The protests broke out across the nation in response to Floyd's death last Monday.
That day, an employee at a Minneapolis grocery store called police and accused Floyd of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd, who is black, was then arrested and handcuffed by Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, and pushed to the ground. Video shows Chauvin with his knee pressed to the back of Floyd’s neck as he gasped for air. Floyd, 46, later died.
Chauvin and three other officers were fired last week in connection with Floyd's death.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and arrest warrants have been issued for the three other officers on the scene.
Fox News' Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.