Protesting Safely During COVID-19

Caesar Djavaherian, MD, MS, FACEP
June 2, 2020
2 Minutes

Like many during this time, we are watching as our community finds ways to organize, protest, and fight back against systems of oppression and inequality, particularly as it pertains to police brutality against Black communities in our country. We stand in solidarity with Black communities against institutionalized racism and police brutality.

As a healthcare company, caring for patients requires that we join them in this fight. We support and promote peaceful protests and, as always, our team is here to help you take care of yourself both physically and mentally during this time.

We are still experiencing a pandemic, so if you are symptomatic or feeling ill, please stay home and consider other ways to support the fight. Should you choose to protest, consider:

  • Using eye protection
  • Socially distancing when possible
  • Wearing a mask
  • Bringing hand sanitizer

What to carry with you:

Image for post

Bandanas/clean cloth rag


Eye Protection

Hand Sanitizer

Water & a small high protein snack

Your ID — kept on your body; not in a bag

Head Injuries

Being struck in the head during a protest is a common injury. Wearing a bicycle helmet will help protect you from severe head injuries like skull fractures or brain hemorrhage and reduce the severity of concussions.

Tear Gas

Tear gas is often used to disperse crowds. If you find yourself exposed to tear gas and experience burning in your eyes or on your skin, please apply an antacid like Maalox or calcium carbonate (aka baking soda) in a water solution onto the affected skin surfaces. Wash your eyes out with water.


Bruising from rubber bullets take days to weeks to heal, but if you are struck in vital areas like your neck, you may start to have a hard time breathing. If you can protect your neck, do so. If you are struck in the neck and start having trouble breathing, please go straight to the emergency room. Swelling around the airway can be a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate intervention.

Respiratory Protection

Please always wear a face mask. Not only does it protect you from COVID-19, but it can help protect you from caustic agents like tear gas. Make sure you carry any medications like albuterol if you have an underlying lung condition.

Cuts & Lacerations

If you are cut during a protest, it is most important to control the bleeding with direct pressure before going to seek medical attention. If the cut is more on the surface and does not open when you pull the edges, you can treat it with antibiotic ointment. Typically you have a 24-hour window to suture a wound. Don’t apply peroxide or alcohol to the area.


Most burns can be taken care of with antibiotic ointment applied to the burn twice per day after washing the area with mild soap and water. Don’t apply peroxide or alcohol to the area. If the burn is deep and your skin bubbles, seek medical care especially if the bubbling is on a large part of your body.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Recognizing and taking care of your mental stress during this time is important. After leaving a protest, allow yourself to reset and process the intensity you may have experienced. These tips can help you regulate your nervous system:

  1. Find a safe place to be like your own home or bed
  2. Drink water
  3. Eat a healthy meal
  4. 4–6–2 Breath

Breathe in through your diaphragm for 4 seconds.

Breathe out slowly through the back of the throat for 6 seconds

Hold the empty breath for 2 or more seconds


Be aware of how you’re feeling and take care of your mental health. Here is a mental health resource from Mental Health America.

Be safe and take care of each other.

Caesar Djavaherian, MD, MS, FACEP

As Carbon Health’s Chief Innovation Officer, Caesar Djavaherian, MD, MS, FACEP, guides clinical innovation through product development, service expansion, and partnerships with transformative companies working to improve the healthcare ecosystem. He is an emergency medicine physician, a former high school teacher, and a reformed academic researcher. Caesar co-founded Direct Urgent Care to deliver technology-enabled urgent care throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He has practiced at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the University Hospital of Columbia, and Weill Cornell Medicine. In his spare time, Caesar advises healthcare startups, cheers on the Warriors, tries various HIIT workouts, and daydreams about what the future of health will look like.


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