US territories attempt to stay resilient in face of pandemic

by Apr 14, 2020Coronavirus, Economy, Headlines0 comments

No corner of the globe has been immune to the economic shock of the pandemic caused by the spread of COVID-19. Across the United States, restaurants have had to close their doors to dine-in customers, airplanes have been grounded from reduced travel, and workers have been getting laid off in rising numbers. Major stock indexes have dropped precipitously since the pandemic outbreak, shedding years of gains in mere days. This negative economic shock has reverberated everywhere, and the US territories have not been immune. In Puerto Rico, there remain worries that residents and businesses will be ignored in the face of the public health crisis. The healthcare system and economy in the territory have already been facing difficult times after issues with debt repayment and natural disasters decimating much of the existing infrastructure. Medical officials in Puerto Rico have also let it be known that they are struggling to get the necessary medical supplies as a temporary end to restrictions controlling the purchase of medical supplies abroad for states was not initially being applied to Puerto Rico, as well as Washington, DC. The additional restriction limits the ability for medical facilities in Puerto Rico to procure the necessary supplies to address the rising number of infection cases,  particularly as the pandemic persists over time. The US Virgin Islands currently has 51 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and the number may rise in the coming days. The virus is also hitting the tourism industry in the US Virgin Islands, as travelers and tourists are having to replan, or completely cancel, trips. The severity of this economic downfall for the local economy is uncertain, with a larger problem expected as the duration of travel restrictions remains uncertain and a possible stimulus package remains in limbo. Guam is also dealing with the economic effects of the virus, as residents are urged to stay indoors and the first six deaths as a result of the virus have been recorded. Public officials in Guam believe that the pandemic could be disastrous, with business and travel coming to a halt. The territory could see a ray of sunshine in its economic outlook, however, depending on military spending, whereby an increase could help boost the large local military sector. As the spread and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic persist, the US territories are particularly at risk of economic fragility and lack of proper support. Public officials will continue to seek stimulus and relief in the face of challenging economic and public health events. The resiliency of the US territories remains intact, but the longer that the virus remains a persistent threat the more difficult the economic situation remains for the territories.