business

With coronavirus cases surging in the U.S., many people are concluding they'll have to learn to live with the virus until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available — and that's led to a huge increase in orders for plexiglass and other types of clear plastic barriers meant to keep us safe.

"Demand is ridiculously high," said Jackie Yong, a 17-year employee of J. Freeman, Inc., a plastics distributor and sign supplier in Boston whose products include plexiglass and other plastic sheets. "Everything's just been flying out the door."

Sheng Guo was among the first people in South Florida to experience the impact of COVID-19. He grew up near Wuhan, China, where the virus started. He lives in Weston now, but his parents and grandmother still live close to Wuhan. Guo is an economics instructor at FIU.

Wilkine Brutus

As cooks, waiters, and hair stylists, come back to work after two months, Palm Beach County is setting aside part of the $261 million it received through the CARES Act to help businesses re-open.

Casa de Salud, a nonprofit clinic in Albuquerque, N.M., provides primary medical care, opioid addiction services and non-Western therapies, including acupuncture and reiki, to a largely low-income population.

And as with so many other health care institutions that serve as a safety net, this clinic's revenue — and its future — are threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first time Rosemary Ugboajah applied for a small-business relief loan, it didn't go well. She needed the money for her small Minneapolis-based company, which has created ad campaigns for brands like the NCAA Final Four.

So she went to her credit union.

"They were hard to reach, but eventually I got through to someone and they emailed me back saying they can't process the loan because they don't process SBA loans," she said. "I wasn't aware of that."

Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET

The Labor Department delivered a historically bad employment report Friday, showing 20.5 million jobs lost last month as the nation locked down against the coronavirus. The jobless rate soared to 14.7% — the highest level since the Great Depression.

The highest monthly job loss before this was 2 million in 1945, as the nation began to demobilize after World War II. The worst monthly job loss during the Great Recession was 800,000 in March 2009.

As more states begin to ease coronavirus restrictions, restaurants are working through exactly how they will get back to business.

When Florida eased restaurant restrictions this week, the notorious Flora-Bama roadhouse reopened its doors, the sounds of live music drifting with the sea breeze.

This sprawling 11-acre complex on the Gulf of Mexico at the Florida-Alabama state line is known for its local musicians, Gulf oysters and cold beer.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Pilar Guzman Zavala and Bill Feinberg own very different companies, but both have been hit by COVID-19. Dozens of employees between them have been brought back thanks to emergency borrowing programs instituted to help companies keep people employed.

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday

Cars didn't change much between March and May. But the factories where they're assembled are shifting dramatically.

Christian Piatt finally got a loan to help rescue his brand-new bar and restaurant in Granbury, Texas.

But it wasn't easy.

He applied through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which is meant to help small businesses threatened by the pandemic. One bank told him it couldn't lend through the program. Another told him he might have better luck elsewhere. The third approved his loan and he got the money.

Now he's wondering: How should he use his $34,000 loan?

While the president and his advisers talk about "reopening" the economy, there are parts of it that never closed.

Many factories are still operating around the clock, churning out the products we depend on during this pandemic, including food, face masks and toilet paper.

"I get a lot of ribbing locally in my neighborhood," says Jose de los Rios, who works at a giant Procter & Gamble plant in Mehoopany, Pa., where Charmin toilet paper is produced. "At least a third or half of my neighbors stop me and jokingly ask, 'Can I get them some?' "

MATIAS J. OCNER / MIAMI HERALD

Nationwide shutdowns to minimize the spread of the new coronavirus have brought many things to a standstill. But one line of work that's often overlooked is busier than ever. 

The coronavirus has dealt a body blow to U.S. workers. So far, it's women who are paying much of the price.

The Labor Department says more than 700,000 jobs were eliminated in the first wave of pandemic layoffs last month. Nearly 60% of those jobs were held by women.

Alejandra Martinez / WLRN

On this Monday, April 6, episode of Sundial:

Navigating South Florida’s unemployment crisis

The number of Floridians applying for unemployment benefits continues to rise as thousands of people are being laid off in masses due to this coronavirus. 

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