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Crowds Protesting Coronavirus Shutdown Frustrate Front Line Workers

BOSTON (CBS) - As hundreds protested the state lockdown Monday, scenes of a crowded Beacon Street frustrated front line workers. Dr. Daniel Summers was among the many who took to social media to express their disappointment.

The North Andover physician tweeted: "These people right here are making my job, and my life overall, so much harder."

Dr. Jon Santiago, an emergency physician and state legislator, says crowds at these types of large gatherings could set back their efforts in the fight against the coronavirus. "Quite frankly the protest was not only misguided it was selfish. And it really posed a threat to public health," said Santiago.

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Hundreds protested the coronavirus shutdown at the Mass. State House (WBZ-TV)

Santiago works at Boston Medical Center and says the hospital is starting to see a decline in hospitalizations. "[But] that can change within a second. Think about the Biogen conference and how that was a seminal event for spreading the virus, not just across the Commonwealth but across the country," Santiago said. "Right now we need to continue to prioritize public health and saving lives."

Recent polling does suggest a majority of people agree with the extension of the shutdown. A new Suffolk survey found 85% of Massachusetts residents support Governor Baker's decision.

"We are operating here at a very high stress level. And by stress I don't mean just our mental and emotional stress, we are extremely constrained in terms of supplies. Shortages are still a major issue for us," said Dr. Shira Doron.

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A crowd protests coronavirus restrictions on businesses outside the Massachusetts Statehouse (WBZ-TV)

Dr. Doron is an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center. She says she understands why the lock-down can be frustrating to those who can't earn a living. But stresses that health care providers are still working in difficult conditions.

"We are so far from being out of the woods. And we're so far from being able to take an increase in sick patients at this time," Doron said. "Even when the governor relaxes these measures, it's not going to be a wide open door to go back to what was once normal life."

Both Doron and Santiago say providers are preparing for an increase in cases when the economy re-opens, and hoping people understand the novel coronavirus will remain a serious threat.

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