LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Social distancing has been overturned by protests against social injustice. What are these large gatherings that we are seeing here and across the country going to do to cases of the coronavirus? One health expert says we'll know in a few days.
"I'm very concerned about the resurgence of COVID-19 infections in the community among those who are protesting and I'm also worried about those in law enforcement," Dr. Jon Klein from UofL School of Medicine said.
Ron Williams is from Louisville and says he took part in the protests in Louisville because he's passionate about what is unfolding with racial injustices.
"We need each other," Williams said. "People grow off of each other. They get their energy their vibe. It made me feel like i made a difference being there."
Williams says he wore a mask at the protests and says the people around him were too. But many over the last few days haven't.
Dr. Klein says the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in open spaces, but, whenever there is gathering of several people there is still an increased risk of transmission.
"This is a situation that increases the probability of people developing COVID-19 infections," Dr. Klein said. "They are in close quarters, there is a lot of shouting going on that increases the spray of aerosols out of our mouth. There is a lot of coughing in the presence of tear gas or pepper spray."
Dr. Klein says if you are going to protest, wearing a mask is important, along with good hand hygiene, and try to stay with people you know.
"This is the hard one, trying not to shout or to speak in ways that spreads the virus," Dr. Klein said. "Some parts of the country people have used drums and other noise makers to express their frustration or anger."
Dr. Klein says if you have been to a protest you should get tested for the coronavirus.
"I think that if you have gone to a protest and been in close quarters for more than 20 minutes you have increased your risk of transmission," Dr. Klein said.
For Williams, he says the virus pales in comparison to racial injustices.
"I would much rather put myself at a small risk to prove a point," Williams said.
If you have the virus, you will likely infect others if you do not isolate. You may not have symptoms or your symptoms could show up in 10 to 21 days. If you are sick, you should definitely not be at the protests. You should also limit your contact over the next few weeks with those who are vulnerable.