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Crowded protests could cause ‘catastrophic’ spread of coronavirus

HOUSTON – Marches and protests in Houston and across the country are putting a lot of people at risk of contracting the coronavirus. Medical experts are warning about a resurgence in cases following the gatherings in Houston and around the country.

“The massive demonstrations taking place across the country are causing concern about a new explosion of cases in the next five to seven days,” said Dr. John Torres, NBC Medical Expert. “Many of these demonstrations are taking place in African American and Latino communities, which have already been hit disproportionately by the virus.”

These protests come as communities across the nation loosen restrictions on public life that have helped slow the virus.

Many factors could increase the spread

Experts point out several factors could accelerate virus spread.

For example, tear gas can cause people to remove their masks and have a physical reaction.

“Tear gas used in violent protests makes people tear up and cough, dispersing respiratory droplets that can then travel further and infect more people,” Torres said. “You could then, unknowingly, bring COVID-19 home and give it to someone who is more vulnerable.”

While many people are wearing masks at these demonstrations, others are taking off their masks to yell.

“Social distancing isn’t happening in crowds of people and close contact for a long period of time can cause a sea of spread that can be catastrophic,” said Torres. “Now, we’ve made progress against the virus, but these gatherings could lead to a major setback for the country.”

If you are going to attend a large gathering, consider wearing eye covering as well as a mask.

While case numbers and deaths have been trending down in several of the cities where the largest protests have occurred, the number of people in those places infected with the virus remains high.