That Escalated Quickly: The Effects of the Coronavirus on South Florida Business

No matter where your politics fall, one thing is for certain – coronavirus (COVID19) will have a significant, perhaps profound, impact on your life. 

South Florida’s economy depends on tourism, and we also have a highly mobile local population that loves to travel. Orlando International Airport, Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale International Airport see more than 100 million passengers collectively every year. With several cruise lines suspending operations, one of the biggest sectors at stake is Florida’s thriving cruise ship industry not only from Port of Miami, but from Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, Palm Beach, Tampa Bay, and Jacksonville. Billions of tourist dollars pay wages and provide jobs to South Floridians, so the impact might not simply be limited to missing a paycheck, but may extend to layoffs, and even some businesses having to close their doors.

Along with cruise line suspensions, airline and hospitality industries are feeling the pinch, as are bars and restaurants. With those wages dropping out of the economy, other industries will feel the effects of Coronavirus on South Florida business, including lost sales and the ensuing ripple effect spreading beyond South Florida and affecting the broader economic health of the United States. The state has 217 cases of COVID19 as of March 18, but of deeper concern is the new virus’s fatality rate. While mortality among those between aged ten and 39 years of age are twice that of the standard flu infection, mortality increases exponentially for each age band above age 39

Dollars and Lives

As we have seen with panic buying, there’s a huge flow of dollars going to supermarkets, big box stores, and other stores as people stock up. They need staff to keep the registers running and the shelves filled. A federal relief package is, at the moment, hypothetical though demands for cash relief for working people and mandatory paid sick days are on the table but only for payrolled workers. While we practice social distancing and wash our hands, we also know that the clock is ticking for many business and individuals who might have been just making it before. Nothing stops the rent and bills from coming due.

On the flipside, public gatherings in places like bars and restaurants have the potential to allow the virus into the community. And, oh yeah, that thing that they call Spring Break – thousands of young people are packing those bars and restaurants, bringing money into the local economy, and possibly spreading or acquiring a disease that may not manifest until they’re back home. As much as Spring Break is a Florida tradition, some conversations need to be had with all generations about how the virus spreads via touch and inhalation, and symptoms might not show up until break is over. 

When You’re On the Edge

Living from check to check doesn’t necessarily mean that you have enormous debt, or any debt at all. Wages have failed to keep pace with the real expenses of daily life such as rent, transportation, groceries, medical care, and so on. Just because you’re scraping by doesn’t mean you’ve been profligate; it means that income has been relatively the same as outgo. You might have even needed to put a few emergencies on your credit card that it’s been hard to pay off. Unfortunately, coronavirus might be the push that sends many over the edge into Never-Catching-Up-Land. 

“What Do I Do NOW?”

Now is the hard part. One thing that you can do is call your creditors and tell them that you have been laid off/closed your business/are in quarantine and need some help. Credit card companies may be willing to work with you and many offer a hardship plan that can lower your interest, reduce your payment, and also reduce or eliminate fees and penalties. You might see a dip in your score after this, but it can take lots of payments until your creditors are reassured that you’re on the road to better financial health. We have lots of other ways to help you get on your feet again, and your first consultation is free! Also, to help avoid bankruptcy we are offering free credit counseling for a limited time.

But when you’re in over your head and have no paid time off – a situation that millions of workers share – you may need to take more drastic action to halt collection actions, and that means bankruptcy. 

Getting Past the B Word

Bankruptcy is a right authorized by Congress. It is designed to allow one to either walk away from or reorganize insurmountable debts that impair your ability to pay your rent and cover the expenses of daily living. Filing for bankruptcy immediately invokes something called the automatic stay. This legal operation immediately suspends all collection activity and gives you the breathing room you need to put your finances in order. Filing for bankruptcy also means that you will receive credit counseling, and learn how to manage finances and income. 

Update: Do Better, People!

Yes, it’s spring break, and the coronavirus does not disproportionately affect younger people. However, it is still possible to carry the virus back home to people who are disproportionately affected, of even spread it in the local community. On Sunday, March 15th, sixteen new cases of COVID19 were reported in Broward County. Seven of those cases were considered travel-related while the other eleven may be considered community-acquired. Broward County also has 30 of the now 100 cases statewide. The state has closed schools and is prohibiting visits to nursing homes. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is not just having an impact on income and business, it’s killing people. 

We Can Help!

At Van Horn Law Group, we specialize in taking our clients from Never-Catching-Up Land to Free-and-Clear Land. There are many ways for us to help from legitimate consolidation loans, negotiating with your creditors and bankruptcy. Our offices in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale are now offering extended hours – from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week – to help you proactively address financial impact due to the COVID19 pandemic. 

Call today at (954) 765-3166 or visit www.vanhornlawgroup.com to schedule your free consultation.

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That Escalated Quickly: The Effects of the Coronavirus on South Florida Business
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With those wages dropping out of the economy, other industries will feel the effects of Coronavirus on South Florida business, including lost sales and the ensuing ripple effect spreading beyond South Florida and affecting the broader economic health of the United States.
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Van Horn Law Group
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Chad Van Horn

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