MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The State of Minnesota is once again requesting a delay in the trials for the former officers involved in the death of George Floyd.

In Tuesday’s request, prosecutors included a letter from University of Minnesota epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, who writes the court order “could have potentially catastrophic consequences for public health.” He also mentions the new COVID-19 strain, saying it “may be up to 70% more transmissible than the most common strain of the virus currently in the United States,” meaning “that the new variant will spread from person to person much more easily.”

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Michael Osterholm (credit: CBS)

The trial for Derek Chauvin, the officer captured on video on last Memorial Day with his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes, is scheduled to start on March 8. Osterholm says he expects a spike in COVID cases in Minnesota by March, and argues most members of the general public will not have gotten a vaccine by then. Osterholm also argues that since Judge Peter Cahill split the case into two trials, it will expose more people to the virus.

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Prosecutors argue a joint trial in the summer would be safer.