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The Shutdown Hit The Florida Keys Hard. What Will It Take To Get Back To Business?

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Charles Trainor Jr.
/
Miami Herald
A couple dines at Carolines Cafe on Duval Street in Key West, Florida, May 4, 2020. The city allowed restaurants to open at 25 percent capacity.

Tourism is the lifeblood of the Florida Keys. It pumps up jobs and tax dollars. Supports fishing, hotels, restaurants.

So with more than five million people who visit Monroe County in a normal year, the island chain typically has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. But with tourists banned from entering the Keys since late March because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Monroe County’s unemployment rate shot up to the second highest in Florida, a whopping 17.5 percent.

More than 8,207 people out of a workforce of 46,816 are out of a job, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Only Osceola County, where most visitors to theme parks like Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld stay in hotels and other lodgings, has a higher rate, more than 20 percent, according to the agency.

Read more from our news partners at the Miami Herald.