Labor Day weekend: Epidemiologist concerned large gatherings during heat wave could cause a spike in COVID-19 cases

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A heat wave is approaching the Bay Area this weekend, making medical experts nervous about the possibility of increased COVID-19 cases as large crowds gather.

The heat is expected to cool down by Monday, but for now epidemiologists are urging everyone who has plans to meet with crowds - to rethink them.

RELATED: These Bay Area cities may break 100-year-old heat records

"It's going to be a 107 tomorrow. That's what my phone told me," said Emily Downey, Concord resident.

Sunday is expected to be the hottest day with temperatures reaching up to 116 degrees in the East Bay.

"We've decreased the amount of time that we've spent outside because of the air quality. So, we are taking our chance tonight to get in our last little bit of outside time before it heats up," said Downey.

UCSF epidemiologist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says a combination of the heat plus crowds gathering during the holiday weekend could cause a possible spike of COVID-19 cases.

RELATED: Map shows which counties can, can't reopen under Newsom's new 4-tier system

"A lot for noses and mouths are going to get together without masks own," said Chin-Hong.
Dr. Chin Hong says it's not about the venue, but our behavior.

"It doesn't really matter if you're outdoors in the sun with 20 of your close friends who you haven't seen in three to four months. As opposed to being indoors, which is taught as being riskier, but you're with two people who you've been with for weeks."

Contra Costa County reported over 14,000 COVID-19 cases and 183 deaths. This weekend, they are hoping residents avoid large crowds and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

"There will be a brief screening and once they come in we will have them socially distance. We will have seating that is 6 feet apart," said Tracy Murray, Contra Costa County Director, Aging and Adult Services.

They are opening seven cooling centers to provide a safe venue for cooling during the heat.

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:
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.