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Intersection: Answering Questions On Coronavirus


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The coronavirus pandemic is already having a big impact on Orlando area businesses. Wall Street Cantina in Orlando and other bars statewide were ordered closed by Governor Ron DeSantis this week in a bid to enforce social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. Photo: Steve Yasko, WMFE

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Schools are closed, businesses shut down and Central Florida’s tourism engine has ground to a halt as theme parks shut their gates and flights are grounded. 

As coronavirus cases continue to rise statewide– what impact is the pandemic having on the lives of central Florida residents, from parents trying to balance the demands of working from home to the thousands who make their living in Central Florida’s massive tourism industry. 

Joining Intersection host Matthew Peddie to talk about the impact of the pandemic on Central Florida are 90.7’s Health reporter Abe Aboraya; emergency medicine physician and Chief Medical Officer at AdventHealth Apopka and AdventHealth Winter Garden, Dr. Omayra Mansfield, and economic analyst and president of Fishkind Litigation Services Hank Fishkind. 

Dr. Mansfield talks about what people should know before seeking medical help if they are worried about COVID-19.

She says there are many unknowns about COVID-19 but there are also things people can do to try to minimize their exposure and keep themselves safe.

Some listeners are worried about the risk of passing on the virus to the elderly who may be more likely to develop serious illness from COVID-19. Dr. Mansfield says it’s important to be aware of the risk and follow the guidelines for social distancing to protect vulnerable populations from the disease.

Answering a question from a listener about how to get tested, 90.7’s health reporter Abe Aboraya says contacting the Florida Department of Health is a good first step.

Business owners are worried about what the future might hold- for them and for their staff.

Chris Rock is the co-owner of Rockpit brewing in South Orlando. He tells 90.7’s Brendan Byrne that the taproom has stopped serving based on guidance from local and state leaders — although he’s still open for take-out service. But he says he’s still unclear about what he’s allowed to do — and where to get help: 

The biggest thing right now is there is so much confusion about What we can and can’t do, what are the thresholds? What are I mean? What, what options do we have? I know that they just introduced some small business release plan. The Congress did or Congress did. You know, what, what are we supposed to do? Right? I mean, our chief priority and keep our doors open, and keep our keep our employees employed.And if there’s help, all the stuff that we’re seeing is not coming from. I’m not seeing it anyways, maybe I’m missing it from leaders in the business world. It’s coming from Facebook.

Casey Clark owns a home cleaning company. She says she’s stopped taking on new clients amid the concern over coronavirus, and some clients are cancelling service. She’s planning on applying for the state bridge loan program, but worries about her business long-term. 

I would hope that 50,000 would be enough to at least flow us for the next couple of Those months to survive. So hopefully that would be enough, it would be kind of scary to take on a huge loan as a small business, when you don’t even know what the future holds for the time being.

Economic analyst Hank Fishkind says the economic impact of COVID-19 will be felt across the tourism and hospitality sector, and the role of federal, state and local governments in responding and helping with the recovery will be critical.

Fishkind says while all businesses will be affected, it’s important for Central Florida to focus on the employees in the tourism and hospitality sector and what can be done to help them.


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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »

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