What doctors believe will happen if large crowds at bars continue

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- This holiday weekend, video and pictures surfaced on social media showing people partying in crowded bars, waiting in long lines and failing to wear a mask or practice safe social distancing.

An expert said this could result in a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced bars could open at 25 percent capacity on Friday and said restaurants were allowed to extend their capacity to 50 percent.

Initially, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city would not enforce citations if a bar or restaurant was caught violating the governor's guidelines.

READ MORE: Fire marshal to start enforcing 25 percent capacity limit

However, on Saturday, after video of incidents across the city and surrounding areas showed people ignoring social distancing guidelines and gathering in large crowds, Turner announced police will be monitoring bars and restaurants.

Dr. Laila Woc-Colburn with Baylor Medicine Infectious Diseases said she saw a number of videos that had surfaced and was disappointed by the behavior.

"We've been doing so well," said Woc-Colburn. "At the same time, I guess, it's human nature in the sense that you've been cooped up in your home and you just want to go and live your life like it was before. The problem that our life that was before is not coming back."

Dr. Woc-Colburn said crowded areas, especially enclosed places with poor air circulation such as churches and restaurants, are ideal situations for COVID-19 to spread.

READ ALSO: Houston firefighters union calls Mayor Turner's 25% occupancy enforcement plan 'impossible situation'

"We know that the virus is in the community and by not following the norms of the masking, the washing [of hands] and the social distancing, we are going to see the peak," she explained. "It's not going to be tomorrow, it's going to be like in 10 to 14 days because, that's how we know and we have history and history repeats itself."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the primary way COVID-19 is spreading throughout the community is through close contact from person-to-person. Health officials are still recommending people avoid crowds, practice safe social distancing and avoid non-essential visits or trips.

Dr. Woc-Cloburn said these practices will have to be the new way of life for a while or until there is a vaccine.

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