LONDON, ONT. -- Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and provincial emergency orders to limit public gatherings, London’s chief medical officer of health feels compelled to join in the local Black Lives Matter protest on June 6 at Victoria Park.

"I think attendance, as safely as possible, is the minimum [for] someone in a role like mine, that has a clear public mandate to address issues like this," Dr. Chris Mackie said Wednesday.

Mackie also spoke of the inequities in society during the virtual press conference, including those along racial lines.

“Public health authorities around the world are using the current opportunity to acknowledge that racism is a public health issue.”

While Mackie will be attending the protest, he says he will go into a 14-day self-isolation period in the days following, and advises others to do the same.

He added that the Middlesex-London Health Unit is doing data tracking to learn how COVID-19 disproportionately affects racialized groups.

"What we are doing right now, is we are collecting the race of each individual whose testing positive, we've been asking those questions for close to two months now, and compiling those in our database."

Mackie says the data is not yet complete, but is hoping to submit findings to a health board meeting later this month.