ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis addressed the issue of coronavirus in Florida at a press conference Thursday morning. But while the Governor was clear in saying the state has no cases of the virus, he was less clear on how the pandemic might affect the state’s economy.
“I think that if you talk to the medical folks here, there’s no evidence that shipping something from China that would transmit the virus,” the governor said when asked by a reporter about the impact coronavirus may have on the state’s economy because of supply chain disruption.
“I’m not going to say people aren’t going to react, I mean obviously you see the stock market, but there’s no evidence that if you shipped a pile of goods or parts that people in receipt of those would then be able to contract the virus.”
Apparently, the Governor didn’t understand the question. Supply chain disruption and its economic shockwaves have nothing to do with whether the virus can be transmitted through international shipping.
Donna Davis, a professor of supply chain management at USF’s MUMA College of Business, said she expects the coronavirus outbreak to have a negative effect on Florida’s economy.
“Our primary economic backbone here is tourism,” she said. “As a pandemic spreads, we typically would have a large number of tourists coming from Asia and so, people are going to pull back on their plans, they might physically be told ‘you can’t come into the country’, and so that would cause an adverse impact on the tourism industry here in Florida.”
“The number two backbone for Florida is supply chain and logistics,” Davis added.
“If you travel from Tampa to Orlando on the I-4 corridor you will see warehouse after warehouse after warehouse, and these are distribution centers for the state of Florida as well as the eastern seaboard.
“When the imports go down because the supply chain is contracting, it’s going to hit a high populous state faster than it might hit another state that is not as populated as Florida or as dependent on imports as Florida is.”
But while Davis expects the state to experience supply shock for a number of products and imports, she is optimistic about the state’s ability to react.
“Don’t panic,” she said.
“We have some really, really good top-of-the-line people that are working in both of those industries here in Florida. So, both in tourism and the supply chain industry, and they are very accustomed to reacting to events like this. So, I have confidence that we’ll handle it, but we need to be prepared.”
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