Nearly half of Floridians are worried about COVID-19 and their finances, according to a new statewide survey. Here’s what these Sunshine State residents think.
The Americano spoke with Floridians who shared their concerns about the challenges they face this holiday season.
Feeling the Financial Crunch
Among those surveyed, 44% are concerned about their finances in an economy that has been severely impacted by the closing of businesses and a significant drop in tourism to the area due to the coronavirus.
“My work hours have been cut,” said Talia Chumbe, a Peruvian hospitality worker from Miami who has seen hotel bookings drastically reduced due to the pandemic. This has presented her with the difficult choice of prioritizing expenses and even going without at times. “One has to make many adjustments and curb expenses. On top of all the stress from the pandemic, it can be especially challenging,” she added.
Giselle Salas, a Cuban American stay-at-home mom, is also feeling the economic crunch, which she says can be particularly hard when faced with health challenges that bring on extra expenses.
“My husband is an independent worker, so we don’t get unemployment benefits,” she said. “Between the pandemic, the cost of my daughter’s school, and my parents’ recent health problems, it’s been difficult to juggle our financial demands. What is a necessity and what can be let go of? How can we make ends meet? How soon will we see a recovery? Definitely, it’s a time of worry.”
Sandra Martínez, a Puerto Rican graphic designer from Miramar, has also been hit hard by the pandemic-related economy. “I have been affected personally, because my husband lost his job due to the pandemic,” she said. However, after the election of Joe Biden as president, Martínez is looking to the future with renewed optimism. “I think that having a real leader in the White House will make a difference and the economy will recover.”
The survey also revealed that more than half of Floridians (53%) are worried about contracting coronavirus, while 63% of respondents, concerned about the spread of COVID, said they are planning on staying home for the holidays.
Martha Drachenberg, a retired Cuban American teacher from Miami-Dade, speaks for many when she says that her family celebrations have been impacted by the virus.
“This year we have missed getting together for birthdays, Thanksgiving and now Christmas,” she said. Her family gatherings, which used to consist of about 30 people, are now a third of that. “It saddens me to know that we can’t visit loved ones, especially the elderly, who are so vulnerable.”
And although Drachenberg says that her family is stable and emotionally resilient, she worries that some members may pass before she sees them again.
“I hope we can remain strong!” she said.
Looking for the Silver Lining
But even in the midst of the pandemic, others, like Ana Mary Costaya, a hairstylist from Coral Gables, choose to count their blessings.
“My parents are elderly. I’ll spend the holidays with them rather than with friends, although I miss them very much,” she said. At the same time, she is a firm believer in finding the silver lining, no matter how dark the cloud.
“I feel that God is giving me the opportunity to spend time with my parents. It makes me happy to be able to care for them, to enjoy their presence, and to listen to their stories. We’re going through difficult times, but as everything in life, this too will pass.”