Hampton Roads sees impact of coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 5:08 PM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 18:23:08-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — Health officials say coronavirus will continue to spread, and businesses are bearing the burden of shortages in supplies and labor.

The CDC Reports 62 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. There have been none in Virginia so far, but Governor Ralph Northam says he’s taking this very seriously and officials are closely monitoring people coming into the state.

ODU Economics Professor Robert McNab says, “Public health experts have been warning since January that this was likely going to be bad in terms of its spread globally; markets have caught up to public health."

The FDA says drug and medical device manufacturers are being affected by the supply chain disruptions in China after the outbreak.

“We believe it’s going to slow down growth and trade. It’s going to affect energy, it’s going to affect medicine, it’s going to affect a lot of inputs into the US economy in the short term,”

Governor Northam says he’s in daily communication with agencies involved in monitoring the virus, but its impact is already being felt in Hampton Roads.

“We have already noticed a decrease in the number of containers that are coming from overseas, coming from China. Our economy is doing very well right now, but it’s something that we are looking at closely,” said Northam.

The Port of Virginia says empty containers for export fell more than 27% as a result of the uncertainty being created by the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Arts Festival recently announced the Hong Kong Ballet is postponing their scheduled performances in April.

“We’re going to start to see the economic impacts accumulate. We’re going to see slower sales, we’re going to see slower growth, and if this becomes bad, obviously higher unemployment, and it will hit people very hard in the pocketbook.”

Economists says if the virus continues to spread in the United States, more businesses will continue to feel the pinch.

“You don’t want to go to sporting events, business travel starts to become constrained because people don’t want to travel in a cramped airplane next to other people who are coughing - all that will ripple out,” says McNab.

McNab say the only cure for the economy is a cure for coronavirus.

“When it slows globally and people feel we’ve turned a corner, then expectations will improve.”

The CDC says six states have confirmed cased of coronavirus.

Right now, there are still two possible cases of coronavirus in Virginia that are being monitored.

Health officials say everyone should be vigilant to slow the spread of coronavirus by washing hands often and looking out for the symptoms: A fever, cough and shortness of breath.