Dr. Venkatesh Nagalapadi, CFP Physicians Group President & Geriatrician joins Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers to discuss the latest coronavirus developments, as Florida reopens its restaurants.
KRISTIN MYERS: Now in what appears to be very good news, no coronavirus surges attached to school openings in Florida. That is, of course, despite a large push to reopen schools in the states. So for more on this, we're joined now by Dr. Venkatesh Nagalapadi, CFP Physicians Group President and a Geriatrician. So Dr. V, as people like to call you, I'm wondering if this news out of your state, Florida, since I know that you're located there, does that indicate that perhaps reopening schools might be a lot safer than we had originally thought? If we're not seeing that large spike, those large surges associated with school reopenings, as we had all feared.
VENKATESH NAGALAPADI: Good afternoon, and absolutely not. So to kind of give you a little timeline, schools were mandated to open in Florida the 31st of August and about more than 50% of students chose to kind of attend in-person classes, and the rest of them did the online services. It's essentially a hybrid model, except for three counties, which is Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach county, where they're still kind of online only.
So we haven't seen a decline in the number of cases. We've-- we've seen a plateau in the number of cases, but we've also-- one-- one of the troubling trends as we've also seen a blunting of the decline in the number of cases. So, by no means does this mean that we're perfectly kind of in the clear and safe to continue business as usual.
One of the things in the school district it's been easier to enforce restrictions. I'll say wearing mask is mandatory, social distancing, contact tracing, and notifying contacts has been much easier to do in the school system than in the college system. And most students after they are done with school tend to go home where they still continue to be under constant watch of mom and dad, and they don't go out.
They don't have jobs in the service industry, so it limits their exposure at the school. But the other trend also has been that in Florida, they're not-- schools are not required to report data. It was citing privacy issues. So we don't actually have exact numbers. School districts are not kind of required to report the number of cases. So that's-- that's kind of been a downside to it.
And one of the other factors that comes into play is young adults under the age of 18 tend not to have severe symptoms. So in the absence of severe symptoms, they're less likely to get tested, and treated, and reported for COVID. So I think it's-- it's a whole bunch of factors that come into play. While-- while I'm kind of cautiously optimistic that we haven't seen a huge uptick in the number of cases, but we're still not kind of out in the clear.
KRISTIN MYERS: So, to that point, it sounds like you agree very much with what Dr. Fauci had say which is that the United States was not in a good place right now. So against that backdrop and the concerns that you just highlighted, what then do you make of Florida's decision, on the one hand, right, reopening the schools has not caused a huge surge in those new case counts of coronavirus. Florida is saying that they're going to be reopening bars inside the state.
I mean, how concerning is that? And do you think, OK, maybe we didn't see a surge with the schools reopening, but we now definitely might see that happen with bars reopening?
VENKATESH NAGALAPADI: I-- from my standpoint and from my opinion as a medical professional, I think it's absolutely premature, troubling, and reckless to reopen bars. The downsides being it's almost implausible if not impossible to kind of enforce any kind of restrictions, or distancing guidelines, or wearing masks in a crowded indoor setting. And the second one is that especially now, we're on the cusp of going into fall and the winter months, flu season is upon us, and COVID still remains a public health crisis. So we have to do our utmost to limit the spread of COVID in the community. And at a crucial juncture like this, opening up bars and restaurants with no restrictions is-- is absolutely-- I don't think it's a wise decision.
KRISTIN MYERS: I want to ask you about something that I feel as if we have not talked about in quite a while, maybe one or two weeks, and that would be a vaccine. It was all we were talking about for some time. Especially after we got the news that we may have one by the election. We're seeing vaccine trials be put on hold left, right, and center. Inovio now announcing that they would be putting their vaccine trial on hold to answer some regulatory questions from the FDA. They want to be-- I want to be very clear here, they do not have a problem in their trial as some other pharmaceutical companies have in the past. But when you hear news about that, do you think that the hopes of having a vaccine in time for Electrion Day, by the end of October, is starting to fade, or was it already a non-- a non-starter?
VENKATESH NAGALAPADI: I-- I would agree with that though. To go to-- to go from concept to reality in six to nine months is kind of unheard of, even in this setting. And this is why every new medication, every new vaccine undergoes extensive testing. That you have phase one, two, three, four, and five. And-- and we follow these precautions, we follow these protocols just to make sure that the product is medically safe in a wider setting. And bypassing two or three of these stages is not recommended and it's not advisable. So from our standpoint as medical professionals, I think it's-- I think it's a dream to actually expect a vaccine, which is effective, to be released for mass consumption by November.
KRISTIN MYERS: All right. Well, we we'll have to leave it there. CFP Physician President, Dr. Venkatesh Nagalapadi, thank you so much for joining us today.
VENKATESH NAGALAPADI: Thank you so much for the opportunity.