Businesses keeping an eye on coronavirus as imports slow


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The coronavirus epidemic is making an impact in our area. Travel restrictions and imports of Chinese products slowing down have small business owners on edge.

“Things that happen all over the world impact business,” said Stephanie Atkinson, who manages the Lynchburg boutique Live Trendy or Die.

She’s keeping an eye on coronavirus.

“Even though we’re a small business in the middle of central Virginia,” she explained, “understanding the global impact on small business, sourcing products.”

Most of her products are locally made.

While some of her products are from overseas, she shifted even harder to local products after the trade war with China began in 2018.

“That’s something that came before the coronavirus that allowed us to sort of stay ahead of it and not be in a panic mode about it.”

Uncertainty is growing as the epidemic spreads.

“They’re kind of suspecting this latest case in California to be the first that is possibly community-spread,” said Dr. Jenny Hall, the Director of the Master of Public Health Program at the University of Lynchburg. “That means it did not come from a direct person that was sick or that traveled here from Wuhan, so that’s getting people a little more anxious.”

Dr. Chris Thomson with Centra Health says travel restrictions and slowing down imports has helped control the spread in the US, saying it’s something the US learned following the two previous coronavirus outbreaks, SARS and MERS.

“I think in this case,” he said, “it seems like it was a good idea, again, it limits people’s mobility and their freedom, and that’s the downside, but that’s the trade-off we have to provide some element of safety.”

It’s a trade-off Atkinson knows she might have to make.

“A product may not be made there, but something that sources to that product, or even like shopping bags, or the packaging that product is in could be sourced there and that could be an impact on us.”

She says this is a reminder of the importance of shopping local.

Meanwhile, local hospitals are preparing for possible coronavirus cases. Dr. Thomson explains the procedure his staff has been trained to follow.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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