TAMPA, FLORIDA — “Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY happy to be making money again,” area bartender Laura Lawson told us on a recent visit to her bar.  Laura’s home bar, Riggs Room, is an open air establishment; so they get away with calling the entire dining room “outdoor.”  They were able to fully open a couple weeks ago. 


“I never got any of that sweet, sweet unemployment money because my taxes are a mess. It’s tough working in a cash business. So it’s nice to have income again.”


We asked Laura if she was worried about being back behind the bar.


“For my own personal health? I had not really considered that. If I have to go to the hospital though, I’m fucked financially. This industry thrives on a backbone of young, often poorer workers. It doesn’t really have an infrastructure in place to offer health insurance. So a ventilator visit would be totally out of pocked for me,” she said, with a slight quiver in her voice.


“I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the actual costs of a hospital visit before insurance takes over.  I’ve been in the industry for a few years and I’ve seen it ruin people’s lives.”


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