Tear gas, other compliance weapons may be increasing COVID-19 risks at protests

ABC News’ David Wright reports on how the use of tear gas and other chemical agents against protesters could increase the risk of spreading coronavirus infections.
3:44 | 06/05/20

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Transcript for Tear gas, other compliance weapons may be increasing COVID-19 risks at protests
And we can't forget that cove in nineteen continues to ravage the United States nearly 108000. Dead so far and that number continues to rise. Now protests are raising new concerns about the spread with experts warning. That some crowd control tools could be raising that risk even more. Our own David Wright reports. Today on that fatal street corner in Minneapolis a massive crowd. A show of force against police brutality. These days there is no safety in numbers. Protest in a time of pandemic is dangerous. For many the urgency of a just cause trumps the demand for social distance. Half the light changes dot com. So whether I'm to drain the weather trying to hire whether I'm safe I'm still not an accurate because strange look on them that I have us come in here they're getting tired of hearing. Bad things about the mountain. Cloth masks are a thin line of defense against the spread of corona virus imperfect at best. Protesters and public health officials worry about a possible strike if you were at a protest. Go get a task please the protesters have a civic duty heroes. Protest saying during a pandemic does carry within an obvious risk but there's an added risk that comes from police tactics brought to bear. If a peaceful crowd like this becomes a rule. Including tear gas. Pepper spray. And other irritants long part of the non lethal arsenal for crowd control. But experts we spoke to say kids are riskier method right now. These agents and design feed a coffin expel. You know. Up from lung head and and they can cause months that constrict we focus on cove in nineteen rests entrances of the biology but I like people coughing. Shouting transmitting virus more. But there are also a lot of non coated. Wrists but experts say some of these chemicals can increase the risk of spreading infectious diseases including covet nineteen because they can make people caught. Spreads droplets. With so many protesters in close proximity during a time when public health advocates are calling for social assistance. Experts fear that these chemicals could lead to a spike in the weeks to come. When he hot pepper spray or tear gas at increases the risk of not owe me potential takeover in nineteen. But also other rest story virus it rules 75 of the Geneva conventions. Bans the use of riot control agents in warfare using tear gas mace and pepper spray on the battle field. Would be considered a war crime. But in the US and many other countries it's her. All imports of used tear gas or pepper spray on civilians. It's also legal in most states were civilians who used pepper spray gel packs. You have a large crowd and you have people in that crowd. Who are exposed to these chemical agent I did a high likelihood you're gonna how. Creating an environment where the virus can be spread very quickly amongst that crowd. So. A law enforcement officials are gonna have to think long and hard before making the decision to deploy chemical agents particularly now that corona virus has spread. Across the country. There's no question police can use pepper spray and tear gas for crowd control the question is should there is especially now. Experts warn it could. Is the spread of corona virus authorities. Should reconsider its use David Wright ABC news New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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