WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The country's leading infectious disease expert says Florida is "asking for trouble" by fully reopening bars and restaurants.
The entire state is now in Phase Three.
After being closed for months, Harpers Pub in Stuart is hoping to rebound. The neighborhood bar is building back its customer base and putting employees back to work.
"Now that we're back open, they're slowly coming back and it's great to see them," said Ted Donahue, the owner of Harpers Pub.
Harpers is now allowed to have 100% capacity after Gov. Ron DeSantis moved the entire state of Florida to Phase Three last Friday.
All businesses sitting shuttered have now been given the green light to reopen.
"My bartender has a mask on, we wipe down the bar every time someone leaves, they wash hands frequently," Donahue said.
But Monday, just days after the governor's announcement, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, called Florida's full reopening of bars and restaurants "very concerning."
That sentiment is shared by West Palm Beach infectious disease specialist Dr. David Dodson.
"The virus is in the community and when you have people increase their interactions, then you're going to get more infections, it's inevitable," said Dr. Dodson.
Dodson said Florida is still one of the worst states in the country for managing the pandemic with more than 700,000 cases of COVID-19.
He understands people need to make a living, but said he's worried the governor moved to Phase Three too quickly.
"Folks need to keep in mind that we're in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic that is deadly," Dr. Dodson said.
"I think all of us basically know what we need to do to stay safe and that's what we're going to do," Donahue said.
Dr. Dodson is strongly advising anyone venturing out to wear a mask and keep your distance as much as possible. If not, he said we will see a spike in cases.