As virus lurks in Chattanooga area, experts worry that masks and other precautions are missing

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Mike Hazelrig, right, with Hazelrig's Peaches of Cleveland Alabama, waits on Keny Hays. The Chattanooga Market returned recently. Vendors are required to wear masks, and customers are asked to do so.

A bustling home improvement store, boutiques full of eager shoppers, a church softball dugout crowded with adolescents and their family members - these are the kinds of scenes playing out all across Chattanooga this weekend that make experts' stomachs churn.

Doctors say far too few Chattanoogans are wearing face masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which is more contagious than influenza and actively spreading throughout the region at a time when businesses, parks and other activities are reopening.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have convened each night in weekslong protests where local police did not wear face masks or shields, and summer concert series that have historically drawn between 1,000 and 2,000 people are scheduled to resume in July.