MARSHALL (KMHL) – A local doctor is reminding protesters who plan to participate in activities in Marshall this week that we remain in the heart of a global pandemic.

Avera Marshall Chief of Staff Dr. Steven Meister says he encourages people to exercise their First Amendment rights and peacefully protest, but he wants people to be careful to avoid a local spike in COVID-19 cases related to the protests.

“The beauty of living in our wonderful nation is that we have the right to freedom of speech and given all of the stuff that’s going on and all of the issues that have surrounded George Floyd, I think it’s very important to peacefully protest,” said Meister. “I encourage people to exercise their First Amendment right.”

But as he points out, during many of these protests that have been taking place there hasn’t been a lot of social distancing.

“I strongly encourage social distancing,” said Meister. “It’s probably more effective, it looks like there are more people if everyone is spaced six feet apart at least – it gives the appearance there are more people than there are.”

He also says it will help protect people from spreading COVID-19.

“I really strongly encourage people if they are going to go out to wear the mask,” added Meister.

He says that won’t be easy with the warm weather, but says it’s important to make sure there isn’t a local spike from the protests.