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Florida bars, breweries reopen again during coronavirus

Dr. Adrian Burrowes, Family Medicine Physician & CFP Physicians Group CEO, joins Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman to discuss the reopening of bars in Florida at a limited capacity on Monday.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: An interesting dynamic playing out here in Florida-- as we noted, things have been improving in some of these hotbed states, whether it's Florida or Arizona or some of these others we've been discussing. But for the second time, Florida is going to be moving forward with opening bars and breweries here at about 50% capacity, which is causing some alarm in the medical community because of what could happen after we saw cases spike the last time they did that. So here to discuss that and much more on the coronavirus front is Dr. Adrian Burrowes family medicine physician and CFP Physicians Group CEO. And Dr. Burrows, you're based out there in Florida. So talk to me about this decision and why we shouldn't be expecting the same thing this time around.

ADRIAN BURROWES: Well, no, I'm not sure that I agree that we shouldn't be expecting the same thing. And my opinion is that we probably will see the exact same thing. You have these bars and breweries opening back up, 50% capacity.

And like I would-- I tell people, it's common sense. Drunk people don't social distance. And so I expect that you'll start seeing a rise in cases here as this progresses.

ZACK GUZMAN: I think "drunk people don't social distance" will be the headline that we run with here. But when we think-- when we think about maybe-- I'll push back a little bit, because we have seen the positivity rate fall, right? That seems to be something that people look at. It's improved in Florida. It's down at about 12% for the state.

Granted, that's still a far cry from New York City's under 1% that we've seen here. And even us, we don't have indoor dining coming back 'til the end of the month. And that's going to be a 25% capacity. So maybe talk to me about how this is a sliding scale, and maybe why that might be, outside of anything else, why this decision is moving forward.

ADRIAN BURROWES: Well, think that you're right. You definitely have seen less cases than we've seen, certainly not as low as we'd like them to be. I think that what we have done in Florida is that once we start seeing some positive momentum, we undo it all by rolling back into things too quickly.

I don't have an objection to these things reopening. I just think that we should be taking baby steps and gradually increasing that as time goes forward. And that's not what we've tended to do.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and this time around, I mean, when we talk about the rise, obviously, on a state-by-state basis, it makes sense for us to track. And we can kind of monitor hot spots here. But when you back up and look at the overall case count, the WHO reporting that yesterday saw 307,930 cases here-- 307,930 new COVID cases. That would be the most in a single day that we've seen since the previous high set earlier in the month.

But clearly, it kind of speaks to the idea that this is not a problem that has gone away, even if things are improving. We saw Israel announce that it would be locking down again. So just to push the point a little bit further here, how bad do you think things might get in Florida versus the last time you saw the state lock down? Because we have seen pushback on the political front, seeing that that's not a direction some of these governors, politicians want to go.

ADRIAN BURROWES: Well, yeah, I think that one of the things that-- I'm waiting to see what happens next week. So we just had another major holiday. Labor Day just passed. So I think you'll start seeing cases probably start to rise again come next week.

And I think that the thing that we have this time, when we've had-- we've seen spikes before at Memorial Day and at and at the 4th of July-- what's different this time is that now schools are open. And now nursing homes and this, they are now starting to have visitors. And I think that that's what's most concerning to me, is that we have had major holidays, lack of social distancing. Now we have schools open and nursing homes open to visitors. And that's where my concern comes from.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, all of those things happening at once could be something to watch. And, of course, it takes some time. There's a bit of a delay in terms of policy changes and the cases showing up. So there is a bit of a lag time that we're going to have to bear with here.

But outside of that, I mean, there are still concerns that we've seen not really change from the beginning of this pandemic, whether it be PPE issues or pricing issues in some of these things. I know that's something that you've taken issue with in terms of the medical community here dealing with some of those things. Have you seen things, I guess, improve at all since where we were back in March?

ADRIAN BURROWES: So this is where we are. We still have issues where people are having issues acquiring personal protective equipment. A box of gloves prior to the-- prior to the pandemic cost $4 to $5 a box. Now they're up to $27. A box of N95 masks, a box of 20 would cost $20 to $25. Now it's $125.

Anyone who's trying to find Lysol or Clorox wipes understands the dilemma of trying to even find them. And then once you find them, they've been marked up two to three times, just in your local grocery stores. And I think that's disgusting. I think that there definitely needs to be some type of political intervention here to make it easier for us as health care providers to deliver care in a cost-efficient manner.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, you talk about political intervention. That's one thing that we've been stressing here, and the idea of some of these warnings and guidelines coming out of either the CDC or the FDA. We've seen that policy position maybe shift a little bit, as the CDC announced a new report looking at maybe the risks of transmission from children going to school and going back into the household, in a new CDC report highlighting about 25% spread there in some children going back into the home, warning about that being an issue that may have not been stressed completely from this-- from the Trump administration earlier on. What's your take on maybe how that might give pause to, I guess, the school aspect of all of this reopening right now, in Florida and beyond?

ADRIAN BURROWES: Oh, absolutely. I've always been a proponent of being conservative when it comes to your health. And so at the beginning when the pandemic first started, there was a lot of reports that said that kids couldn't transmit it or that they were low risk of transmission. Then, of course, schools started back and we started seeing all these outbreaks in schools.

This is a risk for the students. It's a risk for the parents of the students. And it's a risk for the teachers. And I think that anyone who calls themselves a coronavirus expert is a liar. No one's a coronavirus expert.

This is something that we don't know. And day to day, it changes. So because we don't know a lot about the virus, we need to be as conservative as possible. And I have grave concerns going forward.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and I guess we'll update the headline there in terms of drunk people don't social distance, and children might also be a little bit difficult to get social distancing as well. For the time being, we'll leave it there. We'll see how these cases play out again. We're both on the same page in hoping that we don't see the same uptick, but a lot of concerns as bars resume business. Dr. Adrian Burrowes, always appreciate the chat.

ADRIAN BURROWES: Thank you so much.