But it's not the fact that businesses reopened that was the problem, it's how people reacted, the ABC7 News contributor said.
'MIRACLE IS OVER': UCSF doctor explains what went wrong in California's fight against COVID-19
"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.
WATCH LIST: Counties where COVID-19 is getting worse
"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.
If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- COVID-19 Help: Comprehensive list of resources, information
- From salons to dinner parties: Experts rate the risk of 12 activities
- California reopening: Here's what's open, closed in the Bay Area
- Watch list: Counties where COVID-19 is getting worse
- When will the San Francisco Bay Area reopen? Track progress on 6 key metrics to reopening here
- Life after COVID-19: Here's what restaurants, gyms will look like
- Here's everything allowed to open in CA (and what we're still waiting on)
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What will it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine and how will it be made?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Here's how shelter in place, stay at home orders can slow spread of COVID-19
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Experts compare face shield vs. face mask effectiveness
- List: Where can I get tested for COVID-19 in the Bay Area?
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during novel coronavirus pandemic
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic
- WATCH: ABC7 Listens 'From Anger To Action: A Bay Area Conversation'
- Symptoms, prevention, and how to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak in the US