Coronavirus impacting local business, students abroad

WAAY 31 spoke with a cotton farmer and a student who was forced to evacuate her study abroad program.

Posted: Mar 2, 2020 6:28 PM
Updated: Mar 2, 2020 7:25 PM

The coronavirus is starting to impact more and more people in the United States, like businesses and students who are studying abroad.

A cotton farmer told WAAY 31 the coronavirus is impacting the global cotton trade. He said some farmers in our area are taking a direct hit because so much business is done with China.

"Commodities have taken a major hit," says Mark Yager, who is a cotton farmer. 

Yager explained to us how the coronavirus is impacting local farmers.

"The textile mills are mostly in Asia, China mostly and in fact Wuhan...Where it all started. I don't know how it's all gonna end up," says Yager.

In addition to business impacts, people told us they're on high alert about the disease spreading and how the Alabama Department of Public Health is handling it.

"I am worried they're not prepared in case a case does come apparent because if they're not prepared and we do start getting it, it leaves large concern," Deboarh Taulby, who lives in North Alabama.

On Monday, the Department of Public Health said coronavirus testing kits are in Alabama.

However,  a spokeswoman told us those kits still have to go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for testing.

"It could get out of control without even knowing it's happening like the flu. I'm just really worried Alabama has got no emergency plan for the situation," says Taulby.

WAAY 31 spoke with health officials who told us the state is working to be able to process those testing kits as soon as possible. She told me they are working on that right now and hope to get it as soon as they can, but did not give me an official date.

Local schools and universities in North Alabama told us they’re taking a wait and see approach with students studying abroad, even as the coronavirus spreads.

Huntsville City Schools said it is monitoring the situation. The University of Alabama Huntsville is still waiting to make a decision about bringing students home.

WAAY 31 spoke with a student who was forced to evacuate because of the spike in coronavirus cases in Italy.

"They sent us a bunch of emails about where we should go, what places we shouldn't go to," says Melissa DiMartino, who was forced to leave Florence.

DiMartino told me she was frustrated when her university started to limit the places she and her classmates could travel to in Europe with the spike in coronavirus cases.

"My family in Naples was actually really scared about it and they were saying you have to leave," says DiMartino.

She told me she first started noticing the streets in Florence were not as busy and some people were wearing face masks about two weeks ago.

"I noticed the streets were a little empty with like not any tourists anymore," says DiMartino.

More than 1,600 COVID-19 viruses have been confirmed in Italy.

People in Huntsville tell us they're apprehensive to make overseas plans.

"Right now, I would kinda be afraid to go abroad especially to china and overseas," says Taulby. 

DiMartino, said she’s relieved she left on Sunday.

"I guess it's a good thing I left now because you never know if there gonna stop the borders and I wouldn't want to be stuck in Italy if I had no way home," she says.

DiMartino tells me she was surprised when she was not screened for coronavirus symptoms when she landed in the U.S.

The Alabama Department of Public Health told me on Monday it will continue to monitor patients who spent time overseas if they have symptoms.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
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Houston8886158
Limestone827876
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DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 701847

Reported Deaths: 8777
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby779711168
Davidson72385688
Knox39701432
Hamilton35466337
Rutherford33860294
Unassigned23587134
Williamson21906144
Sumner18644232
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Wilson14728164
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Blount12267132
Washington12102203
Maury11179128
Bradley1108895
Sevier10704120
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Madison9273183
Robertson782687
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Anderson6947114
Greene6719115
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Cumberland550576
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Roane530081
Lawrence518869
Carter5171115
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Dyer483386
Monroe467063
Hawkins455272
Franklin420065
Fayette408751
Obion404582
Rhea388457
Lincoln385546
Marshall353338
Cocke352758
Cheatham347331
Weakley344248
Henderson336559
Campbell334940
Giles330574
Carroll315860
White315144
Hardeman314054
Hardin304250
Lauderdale296933
Macon293251
Wayne267424
Henry266958
Overton258846
DeKalb246342
McNairy245442
Haywood243747
Smith234230
Marion233932
Trousdale230315
Scott228832
Hickman227835
Claiborne224932
Fentress215734
Grainger214339
Johnson204634
Morgan193916
Crockett182438
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Bledsoe177011
Unicoi169545
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Sequatchie140319
Humphreys136717
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Lewis130121
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Houston94624
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Van Buren6737
Hancock4177

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