Dr. Tamara Moise, Co-Founder and Lead Physician at Big Apple Urgent Care, joined Yahoo Finance to discuss how the Biden campaign has been handling COVID-19 and how the virus has been disproportionally impacting minority communities.
SIBILE MARCELLUS: Welcome back to "2020, A Time for Change." I'm Sibile Marcellus. Nearly 900,000 Americans lost their jobs and filed for unemployment in just the past week, as we're seeing more layoffs take place. According to banking giant UBS, the economy is transitioning from hiring by companies with a future to firing by companies in decline.
Joining us now is Dr. Tamara Moise, who is an emergency room physician and the co-founder of Big Apple Urgent Care in Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Moise, you're uniquely positioned to assess the financial toll of the coronavirus pandemic as both a doctor and a small business owner.
In your area in New York, Governor Cuomo recently reimposed shutdowns on parts of Queens and Brooklyn because of a spike in coronavirus cases. The World Health Organization recently came out and said that massive lockdowns should be avoided if possible because they're so punishing on communities. Now my question to you is, is President Trump right in asserting over and over again that the cure can't be worse than the problem itself?
TAMARA MOISE: So, I-- thank you so much for having me. So, of course, the whole issue of shutdown versus health, life, and death, it's a very complicated issue. I definitely feel that creating a balance is the best way to approach the whole situation.
And unfortunately, our numbers here in New York are going back up. And, you know, we're such a-- you know, we're a city of over 8 million people. So there has to be some kind of lockdown. So I'm just hoping-- and I do trust that the governor will come up with a solution where we're not fully on lockdown.
Because, just like you said, a lot of people are losing their jobs. And, you know, just coming to health, health as well. You know, if you're losing your job, you're not able to take care of your family, you're not able to get proper healthcare, too, because you have to remember, these people are also-- if they're losing their jobs, they're losing their health plans as well.
So I just think that, you know, we definitely just need to find as much of a middle ground as possible so that our health is being taken into consideration and that we're reducing the number of deaths. But at the same time, we're not completely shutting down.
And of course, the important way to make this all happen is for us to actually follow the rules. You know, the fact that wearing masks, we've been, at this point, told that masks can even be more effective than a cure. So, you know, following the rules, wearing masks, especially in a crowded environment like New York City, it helps to really keep the numbers down and keep the number of deaths down.
And the more that we do that, the more that we could keep our businesses open. That's what people don't realize. So I'm just hoping that, as citizens, we're listening to the science and that we're actually wearing our masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings as much as possible. Because this-- our behavior is going to affect everything.
SIBILE MARCELLUS: Well, speaking of following the rules, we're in the middle of a presidential race, which is, obviously, very contentious. Now vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris canceled all events having to do with campaigning through Sunday because-- and this is after her communications director tested positive for the coronavirus. Now Dr. Moise, what steps should the campaign take to protect presidential candidate Joe Biden?
TAMARA MOISE: I've been following what the Biden campaign has been doing to protect themselves from the coronavirus. I think they've been doing a phenomenal job. You know, for example, for Kamala to go into the debate with the vice president and to make sure that there were the dividers up, you know, I mean, you know, this was very helpful.
So they're-- I really feel like they're taking all the steps that they can to make sure that they're not spreading the virus to anyone, protecting themselves from getting it because, obviously, we need them. They're running for office, and we need them to be here and healthy.
So I actually think that they are following the science. They are following what Dr. Fauci is saying. They are following all of these rules. So I don't even think I have to give them advice because I think they know what they're doing already.
The fact that Kamala made that decision, you know, to cancel this event-- you know, we still can do everything via video and, you know, the message will still be heard. So I think the Biden campaign is doing a phenomenal job in terms of being able to run their campaign, but at the same time, still, you know, protect themselves and protect other people and keep everyone safe.
JEN ROGERS: Dr. Moise, the pandemic has really shown us a lot of the inequality that has been here for decades, centuries, in terms of health care. As we've discussed with Dr. Harris, everyday people of color, also, they're more likely to die not just, you know, in coronavirus, as we've covered, but just common and chronic health problems.
And as somebody that works in the urgent care area, I'm curious-- because urgent care has kind of become people's, like, regular internist now. Do you think that we need to change some of the economic incentives in healthcare in terms of the first person that you go see, that that relationship has devolved, and that that's some place that we should put some muscle behind?
TAMARA MOISE: So I think you're bringing up a great point. So I'm an emergency room physician, and I'm also an urgent care owner. So I've been able to take care of patients in both settings, which is very interesting, especially in the coronavirus epidemic.
So I think that-- well, first of all, when coronavirus, when the numbers of death were really high in New York, I experienced a large amount of-- well, basically, a large increase of patients coming to the urgent care. Because like you said, they are starting to come to us.
So it was really interesting at that time because the message was to not go to the hospital at a certain point. That was, like, in March, April. And people were afraid to go to the hospital because they know that there were a lot of COVID patients. So they were coming to their urgent care.
So, you know, the interesting part of it was that some of these patients were actually critically ill and actually needed to go to the emergency room. But they came to us first.
So, you know, as a result, we had to make sure that we had to up our supplies. We had to make sure that we had to quickly get more oxygen tanks because people were coming in, gasping for air. And I was that liaison to hold them up and to hold their life up until 911 was called and the adjuncts can bring them to the emergency room.
So it was really an interesting time. So a lot of dynamics are changing with healthcare in terms of everyone coming to the urgent care. But luckily, like, at Big Apple Urgent Care, we're in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. And, you know, we're able to-- you know, because we're emergency room trained, we know who belongs there and who needs to-- who belongs at the urgent care and who could be treated and sent home, versus, you know, the person that is severely ill who needs to go to the emergency room.
And just to address the inequities that you were speaking about earlier, for example, in East Flatbush, this is a working class community. It is predominantly Caribbean, Black and brown communities. So we are expressing a lot of inequities there. We had quite a high percentage of deaths occurred in this zip code and some of the surrounding zip codes of Black and brown communities in Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx.
So, and the reason for that is the inequities that you talk about, you know, if there is inadequate housing, you know, if you're in a food desert-- so these are some of the things that we're dealing with in my neighborhood-- you're going to be susceptible to getting deadly diseases. You know? So if you're in a food desert, you don't have access to healthy food. You easily become obese.
And a lot of obese patients don't do well with COVID. A lot of obese patients, they fight for their lives for COVID. So these are some of the challenges that we're dealing with in the urgent care in Brooklyn. But of course, you know, everyone deserves high quality care. So we're doing our very best at the urgent care to provide that, despite all the challenges that are happening around us.
SIBILE MARCELLUS: Well, it's great to have your insight, as we continue to deal with the ongoing pandemic and its effects. Dr. Moise, co-founder of Big Apple Urgent Care in Brooklyn, New York, thanks so much.
TAMARA MOISE: Thanks for having me again.