NORFOLK, Va. - With Virginia set to enter Phase Three of reopening next week, a local economist is hopeful the economy will gain some footing.
"We are hoping that going into Phase Three will start showing some positive results in the next couple of weeks," said Dr. Vinod Agarwal from Old Dominion University. "If it does not, we are really in trouble."
Agarwal says the area has lost more than 70,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic and the hotel industry has seen revenues plummet 90 percent at times.
"The hotel industry, I believe, has never seen times like this," he said.
He predicts the travel and tourism industry will continue to face hardships until a vaccine is developed and people feel comfortable traveling again.
To help during these times, Gov. Northam announced Thursday the state is coming in to assist people with rent, mortgage, and utility bill payments.
"The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges," said Northam.
The State Supreme Court has ruled evictions can resume next week. Northam is calling on circuit court judges to not enforce them during the pandemic.
"Our priority is to prevent evictions," he said.