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Infectious disease specialist predicts gradual re-opening

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush, wearing a mask Tuesday at his Wellington office.{ } (WPEC){br}
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush, wearing a mask Tuesday at his Wellington office. (WPEC)
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Pondering the next steps in the coronavirus pandemic has both medical professionals and the public alike talking about the right time for a Florida Bounce Back.

The state’s Surgeon General says Floridians may have to social distance for another year, but others predict a quicker easing of protocols.

“It’s changed the practice of medicine on a daily basis, and how, I think, we look at things going forward,” said Dr. Larry Bush, a long-time infectious specialist in Wellington.

Dr. Bush made the initial anthrax diagnosis following the 2001 anthrax attacks at the American Media building in Boca Raton.

Currently, Bush serves as president of the Palm Beach County Medical Society. The organization is both supporting medical professionals and the community at large during the pandemic.

This week following a gubernatorial briefing, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees told reporters social distancing could be around for up to a year longer, or more.

“We cannot let our guard down at the present time,” Dr. Rivkees said. “Until we get a vaccine, which is a while off, this is going to be our new normal and we need to adapt and protect ourselves.”

But Dr. Bush said he expects relaxing of social distancing to happen sooner.

“We don’t need to wait for a vaccine to stop social distancing," he said. "The social distancing could be lessened as the transmissibility of this lessens.”

Dr. Bush said testing a large number of people is what’s needed to get a better handle on transmissibility.

But with the number of new cases, as a percentage of total cases, dropping, Bush said he believes social distancing is working.

“And when that gets to a certain number, that the epidemiologist feels statistically is safe, I think you’ll start to see, in phases, a relief of the distancing,” he said. “It’s not an easy call to make, because you never want to put anybody in harm’s way. We need to have what would be a statistically safe risk to start opening things,” said

Dr. Bush also acknowledged there could be a longer lasting impact on behavior for many.

“So I think it will alter how people live their lives to some degree,” he said. “But asking me when we’ll see a major shift of things opening, I would predict within the next four to six weeks. I don’t have information on that. I’m just following the decrease in the amount of new cases every day and I’m encouraged.”

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