Since George Floyd’s death, the area surrounding 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South has become what some are describing as a “mini-Disneyland.” Jaana Hull, who grew up in the area, said, “People fly in from all over the world to take pictures” of the mural and other artwork and the tributes placed in honor of Floyd, who was killed by police at that South Minneapolis corner on Memorial Day.
Hull observed, “[People] set up tents and they sell products, and they take that money with them. The media comes in and get their take on it, and they leave the community. The memorial has become the number-one tourist area.”
She is concerned that with the daily influx of people to the now-famous (or infamous) corner, “the 16 blocks around the George Floyd memorial is a high level of exposure for COVID. Minneapolis is the biggest hot spot. It is one of the biggest hot zones right now.”
Hull now lives in California and works for a Los Angeles-based company that does COVID-19 testing. She comes back to town at least three days a week to test first- responders, including volunteers helping to keep the peace in the area, and/or provide aid for heat exhaustion.
Because of the nature of their jobs, first-responders are most susceptible to contracting the virus, Hull explained. She and her group perform two types of COVID testing: diagnostic and antibody.
“The diagnostic testing is looking for the COVID,” she explained about the test regularly given to first responders. “[It is] for somebody who has symptoms or who has been exposed to someone that has been diagnosed with COVID.
“The antibody testing is testing someone who is asymptomatic, who may be a carrier,” continued Hull. “We are looking at your immune system and not looking for COVID. If you had COVID in the past and didn’t know it, and you have antibodies, that doesn’t mean you won’t get COVID again. It means that your immune system is 99.9 percent able to handle it.”
Testing results usually take 24 to 48 hours, Hull said.
The local first-responders Hull regularly works with is called 612 M.A.S.H. “They are there day and night,” she pointed out, adding that there always is a need for volunteers.
Hull has also started a nonprofit called Heads Up Help USA. “Our nonprofit concentrates on the economic gap in communities in health care,” she said. “What we do is try to bring light on the core problem of health disparities in the city.”
Hull expressed concern about the future of her native neighborhood. “There’s a lot happening at 38th and Chicago. We are the epicenter of the [social justice] movement around the world.”
Potential volunteers can contact Hull at email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.