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Coronavirus starts to negatively impact Tampa Bay businesses

Bridal gowns, medical equipment shipments slowed
Posted at 5:16 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 11:34:58-05

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The coronavirus is now impacting hundreds of shipments from China headed to Tampa Bay.

Local business owners are starting to feel the negative impacts as production at Chinese warehouses is slowed from the virus and many expect the impacts, locally and globally, to get worse.

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An estimated 80% of all wedding gowns that end up on U.S. racks are made in China. Local bridal shops, like Bearer of the Bling in Pinellas County are now telling brides to get their orders in as early as possible.

Off the rack options are becoming more popular as local brides skip the risk of their dresses being shipped too late.

“If you see a dress and you love it, buy that dress while you have it in your hands because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” said Aimee Matsko, the owner of Bearer of the Bling Bridal shop. "We never want our brides to worry or be frantic, so knowing they can buy a dress and walk out of the store is a godsend in this time right now and we've been selling our samples like crazy these days.”

Maya Damrell can’t wait to walk down the aisle in August. She never imagined a virus originating 8,000 miles away could impact her wedding day.

“I know every bride is anxious getting married and this is a special time so hopefully nothing is delayed in that sense,” she added.

At Suncoast Medical Supply in St. Petersburg, N-95 masks have been sold out for weeks. The company says a waiting list is growing by the minute.

“Judging by the calls we are getting today, yes. Demand is getting higher,” employee Barry Baldwin said.

St. Petersburg resident Beverly papinchak was upset to find all the masks sold out. Her husband is a disabled veteran and is on several medications, so Papinchak says she wanted to ensure that she and her husband are safe if the virus comes to the Florida.


“We thought just in case the coronavirus comes here that we’d be ready for it, and hey the masks all gone,” she said. “It may not be bad at all. But we just don’t know.”

Even Jabil, a St. Petersburg Fortune 500 company, is seeing Chinese production of electronic products they rely on slow to 65-70%. The company is now adding new testing and quarantine protocols for its factories overseas.

A recent study found five million companies worldwide are seeing negative impacts directly related to the coronavirus.