NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Thousands of Nashvillians took to the streets in recent weeks to protest the death of a Minneapolis man killed by a police officer who knelt on his neck.

As many as 10,000 people attended one downtown rally, many of them standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

Dr. James Hildreth, President/CEO of Meharry Medical College and an infectious disease expert, said those who attended any rallies or marches should get the COVID-19 test.

He had a special message for African-Americans in the community.

"Most of the people who participated in the rallies and are coming in to get tested are white," Hildreth said. "We need everyone who participated in the rallies and marches to get tested. Please get a test because that is going to help us keep the virus in check."

Hildreth said that the number of people in close proximity, some yelling and potentially spreading the virus, created a perfect story for the virus to spread.

He said he doesn't have data yet on how many protesters have tested positive that attended the rallies.

This is the first time the city has recommended testing for everyone attending the demonstrations. Dr. Alex Jahangir, Chair of the Metro Public Health Board and the Metro Nashville Coronavirus Task Force, earlier had said being outdoors makes transmission less likely.

"I echo what Dr. Hildreth is saying. If you were in close proximity, you were not wearing a mask, people were yelling, get tested," said Jahangir. "If you are worried about the virus, get tested, or if you just want to know, get tested.

"We should all have a routine whether we think we need to get tested. Let's go test because we have the capacity to do it now, and that will allow us to further expand and get back to normal," said Nashville Mayor John Cooper.

For now the city stays in Phase Two on the Roadmap for Reopening Nashville because the number of positive tests over the past 14 days has been in triple digits.

Nashville 14-day new case trend

Source: Metro Public Health Department

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