'We opened the floodgate': Doctor explains why California COVID-19 cases keep going up

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- When Dr. Alok Patel looks at where things started to turn south in California's fight against the coronavirus, he naturally starts thinking about the state's broad reopening.

But it's not the fact that businesses reopened that was the problem, it's how people reacted, the ABC7 News contributor said.

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"Once restrictions lifted a little bit, people all of a sudden took this small freedom and started having these massive parties," Patel told ABC7's Dan Ashley.

Patel likened people's reaction to going to the grocery store, seeing the option to try a free sample, and instead taking the whole plate.

"People had so much quarantine fatigue and were so tired of sheltering in place, they just ran with it," he said. "We literally just opened the floodgate and let the virus do what it wants to do. The virus wants to find ways to have person-to-person transmission so it can proliferate once again and that's exactly what it did.

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"This is why contact tracers have linked so many clusters to bars, restaurants, parties and gatherings that really should not be happening right now."

Patel fears that if people don't heed officials' warning to continue social distancing, stay home as much as possible and wear face coverings, the state may be forced to return to more extreme shelter-in-place orders. Earlier this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars, indoor restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses to close in most of California.

Watch Dr. Patel's full interview in the video player above.

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