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Arrested New York protesters are 'being held in overcrowded pens' and fear COVID-19 could spread

New Yorkers arrested by police during the George Floyd protests say the NYPD placed them close together without masks and that holding cells provided little room for social distancing to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. 

The concerns come as critics have blasted the NYPD's decision to detain persons arrested for misdemeanor offenses during the protests, rather than issue them summonses.  

Among the people arrested in New York City since protests broke out across the country over the police-related slaying of Floyd on Memorial Day, Marti Gould Cumming says he and others were peacefully demonstrating earlier this week when they were picked up by cops. 

Gould posted on Instagram that he was held overnight after the Tuesday arrest, saying there were 'no clean masks' and that police also were not wearing facial covering.

New Yorkers like Marti Gould Cumming say they were arrested by police during the George Floyd protests and placed close together without masks, and that holding cells provided little room for social distancing to protect against the spread of the coronavirus

Pictured are cops in an image caught on video taken by an observer when officers moved in to arrest Cummings and others during a George Floyd protest on Tuesday

In another image caught on video taken by an observer cops swarm over the protesters

Gould posted on Instagram that he was held overnight after the Tuesday arrest, saying there were 'no clean masks' and that police also were not wearing facial covering

In an interview with CBS 2, Gould provided more details. He explained that he was in a peaceful protest along Manhattan's Westside Highway when cops came and made their arrests. 

'We were then put in a hallway, about 100 of us at a time, shoulder to shoulder with no mask, no social distancing, Gould Cummings told the news outlet.

'They are putting the public at risk, says Gould, a drag queen, comedian and activist who is running for city council.  

'Not only for their brutality, he adds, referring to police, 'but their lack of compassion and understanding that there is a pandemic out there happening.'

An NYPD spokesperson was not immediately available when DailyMail.com reached out for comment. 

Critics say the NYPD's handling of arrests could have potentially deadly consequences.

'Our clients are very worried about that. We have seen that jails have been incubators and epicenters of this virus,' attorney Corey Stoughton with the Legal Aid Society tells CBS 2.

Critics say the NYPD's handling of arrests could have potentially deadly consequences. 'Our clients are very worried about that. We have seen that jails have been incubators and epicenters of this virus,' says attorney Corey Stoughton with the Legal Aid Society (pictured)

So far, there have been more than 201,800 confirmed cases in New York City of the coronavirus, which has been blamed for 16,933 deaths and another 4,755 probably deaths.

Across the US, there have been 1,852,561 confirmed cases and more than 107,000 deaths. 

More than 13,000 people have been arrested while protesting around the nation this week, which experts warn could trigger a second wave of COVID-19. 

Many protestors have been seen ignoring social distancing guidelines and not wearing protective gear such as masks. 

Experts warn that the shouting and running around that occurs at many demonstrations could lead to even greater virus transmission. 

'We know that shouting, yelling projects respiratory droplets much farther than just talking, and these people are of course less than six feet away from each other. And so, my concern is yes, there's going to be a tremendous amount of transmission,' Dr. Len Horovitz of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York says. 

Experts warn that the shouting and running around that occurs at many demonstrations could lead to even greater virus transmission. 'We know that shouting, yelling projects respiratory droplets much farther than just talking, and these people are of course less than six feet away from each other,' says Dr. Len Horovitz (pictured) of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York 

Additionally, many people attending these protests are people of color, minorities who have been disproportionately affected by COVID, noted Dr William Schaefer, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told DailyMail.com. 

'That puts those populations at greater risk and those people can bring the virus home with them,' Schaefer said.

'There's no doubt that we are concerned that this may contribute to spikes of increased infections here and there because it comes at the time when we are all 'opening our society' as we are going out. 

On Saturday, in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti, warned the protests could become 'super-spreading events' if people don't practice social distancing or take other preventive measures such as wearing masks.

Protesters are pictured in a huge crowd near City Hall in Los Angeles this week. Mayor Eric Garcetti, warned the protests could become 'super-spreading events' if people don't practice social distancing or take other preventive measures such as wearing masks

These events occur when a single person, who sheds a great deal of the virus for unknown reasons, infects several people at one time.

Schaffner says there have been 'super-spreading' events during the pandemic after large groups of people have come together. 

One example is in South Korea, where a woman went to China, came back infected and then attended a large event at her church.

'There was a huge gathering at this religious service where social distancing was not observed even though it was already recommended,' he said.

'And she was indeed a super-spreader and spread it to a large number of people, creating the first major introduction of COVID into South Korea.'

In another instance in Washington state, after someone ill attended choir practice, 52 of the 61 people there became sick. 

According to Skagit County Public Health, 32 were confirmed to have COVID-19 and 20 had symptoms consistent with the virus.

Schaffner says a super-spreader might not know they're infected and think their coughing is from the protest.

'If you suddenly start coughing, and you've been exposed to tear gas and pepper spray, you may just ascribe your cough to those kinds of exposures rather than attributing them to perhaps COVID infection,' he said.

'So they could easily put themselves in a position where they infect a large number of people.' 

A protestor faces off with an officer during a George Floyd demonstration in Atlanta this week

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