Protests could set up spike in COVID-19 cases

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Protests may lead to another surge in coronavirus cases. This could de-rail plans to move Philadelphia into the yellow phase at the end of the week.

Early peaceful, demonstrations show protesters in masks, spread out but as the crowds grow, and in some cases turn violent, there is little social distancing, and lots of shouting, which increases the risk for transmission.

Infectious disease experts say being outside does help dilute virus particles but not if everyone is close together.

Dr. Ronald Goren, an infectious disease Specialist for Trinity Health said "When you are close together with someone as you can see these crowds were on television there is no question in my mind it can spread from one person to another... It may not just be the people there, they may take it to their families and those people may get sick and wind up in the hospital."

Another issue is the city closed many COVID-19 testing sites due to safety concerns at least on Monday.

"Anytime you cut testing, it's a step backwards," Goren said.

The city had planned to move into the yellow phase at the end of the week, lifting some restrictions due better control of the pandemic, but as for whether that will still happen, Mayor Jim Kenney said at a press conference, "I am not saying no, I am not saying yes either."

If a surge in cases is seen, it will likely happen within the next five to 14 days.

That is the typical time it takes to go from exposure to infection.

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