Doctors expect COVID-19 cases to go up in next few weeks following NBA All-Star weekend events

ATLANTA — For the first time, we’re learning how health experts plan to contact trace new COVID-19 cases following last weekend’s NBA All-Star weekend events.

Doctors told Channel 2′s Audrey Washington that they expect Georgia’s coronavirus cases to increase in the next week or so because of the sheer number of people who flooded Atlanta and did not wear masks during some of the All-Star weekend events.

Kia Young said she was bothered by the lack of social distancing and mask-wearing among partygoers.

“They didn’t even care about social distancing. They were like social distancing, who?” Young said.

Channel 2 Action News obtained a photo from one metro Atlanta club last weekend that shows people shoulder to shoulder on the dance floor, with few masks in sight.

“The few people that wore the masks — I would say they wore them, but it wasn’t kept on the entire time,” Young said.

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Dr. Harry Heiman with Georgia State University said COVID-19 case numbers in Georgia spiked after the holidays because of small family gatherings and parties. Now, he expects numbers to increase once again after this past weekend.

“The more you bring people together in a confined space, the more likely things are to spread,” Heiman said.

Heiman added the falling case numbers could cause some to engage in risky behavior.

“I think, unfortunately, when things are moving in a positive direction, it gives them a false sense of security, and they drop their guard. And that dropping our guard now can cause us to lose the battle,” Heiman said. “Contract tracing is effectively done. You can talk to people who have a new diagnosis and ask them where they’ve been for the prior 72-96 hours before their diagnosis.”

Heiman said as we roll out vaccines and case levels go down, we also have new variants that spread much more quickly.

He said as more people get vaccinated, it’s still crucial more people stay cautious and wear masks.

“It’s critically important time for people to realize that we’re getting so close. They really need to do around wearing masks, socially distancing and avoiding high-risk, indoor settings,” Heiman said.

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