Pulmonologist: Nashville is ready to reopen if we take it seriously

Dr. Milstone: Restaurants are the ones that really have to get this right
Posted at 2:58 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 21:15:16-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Starting Monday, restaurants and retail stores will be able to open up at 50% capacity. But is the city ready and will it be safe?

Dr. Aaron Milstone, a pulmonologist at Williamson Medical Center says yes, but only if it's taken seriously.

"I’m all for reopening Nashville as long as we do it with an ounce of caution," said Milstone.

He believes we've made tremendous progress flattening the curve, but we certainly haven't won the war.

"Though we don’t meet all of our metrics, we certainly have done well in terms of a better situation regarding PPE, a better situation regarding hospital availability for ICU beds and general ward beds," said Dr. Milstone. "The one area where I have the most concern is restaurants and bars."

Dr. Milstone said emphatically, restaurants are the ones that really have to get this right.

"If one patron gets infected and the guidelines are not followed by a restaurant or bar -- that one person could infect multiple other patrons in the eatery," he said.

No detail is too small. "Restaurants need to be very careful about items that may be recycled from table to table. Items like pens when you sign a check, coffee pots," said Milstone.

Metro is asking restaurants to screen their employees and customers at the door. Milstone believes that can be done even if you don't have an infrared thermometer.

"Asking the patron if they’ve had fever in the last week. Asking if they’ve had any knowing COVID contacts. Those are very helpful. If you can’t screen with a thermometer, then you can certainly ask a few quick questions," he said.

Enforcement of these rules will be a key component. Mayor John Cooper told reporters Friday, they've more than doubled their amount of health inspectors.

Milstone believes the public has to play a role in that too. "You really need to feel strongly about reporting that to your local health department, to the Nashville Department of Health, so they can get in there and insure that these eateries are doing it properly," said Dr. Milstone.

Just like the military, winning this war will take discipline. "If we see a high number of cases, we can always go back a phase if we need to go in the reverse direction," he said.