NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After a week of protests in New York City, there’s growing concern about another surge of coronavirus cases.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state is expanding COVID-19 testing criteria to include anyone who attends a protest. CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez has more on the risks in his latest Max Minute report.

We are more than three months into the pandemic and are finally seeing a steady downward trend in COVID-19 positive cases. Stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and mask wearing bent the curve.

But now, the protests across the nation portend a second wave of infections well before the predicted wave during cold and flu season in the late fall. Gomez spoke with representatives of the four largest hospital systems in the Tri-State Area to gauge their concern and preparedness.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

There is a strong consensus and great concern that these protests may very well lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases over the next couple of weeks. So far, there has been little social distancing or mask wearing.

MORELarge Crowds Of Protesters Raise Fears Of Potential New Coronavirus Outbreaks

A new study in The Lancet found that without a mask the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is more than 17%. With a mask, it drops to 3%.​

Plus, yelling, screaming, and running means people expel many more respiratory droplets that could carry coronavirus from an infected individual.

MOREArrested Protesters Say They’re Being Kept In Overcrowded Pens, Fear Coronavirus Could Spread Inside Holding Cells

As for preparedness, all of the hospital systems told Gomez that they have fully re-stocked their supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE), especially masks for both workers and anyone coming into the hospital.

Ventilators have also been prepped and returned to service, and doctors have developed treatments to keep patients off ventilators so there should be enough for a spike in cases.

All the hospitals strongly emphasized that they are returning to normal activities. COVID-19 units are completely separate. Cancer care and elective surgeries are steadily resuming.

The message is: if you need care, it’s safe to go to the hospital.

For the top questions people have been asking about the coronavirus, visit cbsnewyork.com/max, and go to facebook.com/cbsnewyork to submit your question.

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