PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The wave of protests that have swept across the country and the Phoenix area are not likely to be responsible for the recent spike in COVID-19 cases -- not yet, at least. That is according to public health experts who spoke to CBS 5 Investigates.

Michael White, MD, who is the chief medical officer of Valleywise Health said the median incubation period for the novel coronavirus is 10 days. The protests began two weeks ago, which means that people who may have been infected during that first weekend are likely just now feeling symptoms.

"Those folks that are expressing their rights within the protests, certainly they were all together," said White. "Many of them were wearing masks, but certainly it is a risk. Now, maybe a slightly less of a risk because it was not in an enclosed space," said White.

Protests likely not responsible for COVID spike, yet

The spike in cases, hospitalizations and ER visits began roughly 10 days after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lifted most restrictions across the state.

"This trend line isn't good," said Will Humble, who is the former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. "My argument is let's do some simple things up front so that we don't end up going over capacity."

He says the state is on track to reach hospital capacity by early July, unless some measures are taken ahead of time to reduce the spread of the disease. Humble suggests allowing cities and towns to impose restrictions on businesses and mask-wearing in public spaces, among other measures.

If the trend line continues, we may see an increase in cases due to the protests over the next week or two, according to public health experts.

Morgan Loew's hard-hitting investigations can be seen weekdays on CBS 5 News at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

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