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Coronavirus' potential local economic impact and shortages

Posted at 5:48 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 20:20:18-05

As the coronavirus continues to spread, it is becoming a growing topic of conversation for businesses and agencies across Arizona trying to assess the potential economic impacts.

Experts say the spread of the virus could impact several sectors of the economy. A representative for the Greater Phoenix Chamber says they have heard from some of their 2,400 members.
"It's not panic mode, they're not freaking out," said Mike Huckins, vice president of public affairs for the Greater Phoenix Chamber. "But I think the longer this goes on you're seeing more and more ripples on a daily basis of different companies that have different supply chain issues."

Huckins said tourism could be one of the industries hardest hit in Arizona, as people may decide to put off vacations.

"Right now we're in the peak season of tourism for Arizona, spring training is going on, so that obviously is a big concern for Arizona and our economy," Huckins said.

According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, visitor spending topped $24 Billion in 2018 and tourism was connected to more than 190,000 jobs.

ABC15 also talked with another economist who hopes progress is made on containing the virus in the coming months, which would mitigate economic impacts.

"If it ends up being long-lasting, so if this ends up being an epidemic that lasts for, say, a half a year, it's going to be a real problem," said Jim Rounds, the president of Rounds Consulting Group.

Rounds also believes tourism could be one of the hardest-hit sectors in Arizona, as people may decide not to travel. For now, he is staying optimistic that the economy won't see serious negative impacts.

"I'm concerned more on the general humanity side," Rounds said. "You hate to see this happening, a lot of vulnerable people are becoming sick and dying. I'm not quite there yet on the economic side because things have to get a lot worse before you completely change the configuration of the economy because it's just so big."

Officials with the Health and Human Services warned Americans of potential shortages of personal protective equipment, including masks.

ABC15 reached out to some of the largest hospital networks in the area to check on supply shortages, but none would give insight into their inventories despite Arizona's top health director saying she's hearing from local hospitals.

"We are hearing from a couple hospitals that they might be getting low on N95 masks or surgical masks," said Dr. Cara Christ.

Christ did not indicate what hospitals are indicating they are getting low on supplies.
ABC15 only received the following statements by email:

Valleywise Health wrote, "Valleywise Health’s top priority is the health and well-being of patients, families and team members. Valleywise Health is closely monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and we are following recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Arizona Department of Health Services.
We understand that members of our community are concerned about the risk of exposure to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Valleywise Health is well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious disease, and is prepared to safely care for patients who may have infectious diseases.
Valleywise Health is not experiencing any medical supply shortages at this time, but we are closely monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of all patients, visitors and staff.
As always, please follow standard hygiene procedures to prevent illness, such as handwashing, covering your cough or sneeze, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth."

Banner Health wrote, "We continue to carefully monitor our supply inventories for all essential supplies, including personal protective equipment and medications. Banner Health is working with our suppliers and public health authorities regarding the supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide a safe patient care and work environment."

Dr. Christ said the state is working to help those hospitals reaching out, "we're working with the supply chain with our partners to get those specific hospitals the supplies they need."