Americans can’t go online, turn on the TV or go shopping without being bombarded with news about coronavirus. Our Facebook feeds are rife with posts about the virus and how much impact it will have on our every day lives. Just a few months ago, we were gearing up for March Madness, spring break at Disneyworld, PGA Golf Tournaments and Lucero at the Ryman Auditorium. Now those events have been postponed or canceled, and even Orlando theme parks are closed for the rest of the month. Just today, IRS postponed the deadline on which income taxes are due to July 15.
Our lives have changed in a flash. The Associated Press warns that Americans must brace for new life of no school and growing dread. We now spend more time in line at Walmart buying toilet paper than we do lining up for Black Friday sales. Parents worry about their jobs while they wonder who’ll watch their children while they are at work since schools have extended spring break or shut down for weeks.
The world has changed. We are told to practice “social distancing” and not come within so many feet of our fellow human beings. People are wearing medical masks and gloves when they go out. Some people walk around with Lysol bottles.
Some stores are reducing their hours of operation, which means smaller paychecks for workers. American’s biggest retailer, Walmart, is not immune to the fallout from this virus, as Walmart and Publix are cutting back on hours because of coronavirus. Businesses that remain open are changing how they service customers. Many fast food restaurants like Taco Bell and Chic-Fil-A are serving customers only via drive-thru windows; the dining areas are now closed. The virus has even affected the “world’s oldest profession.” And people can’t even go to bars as an escape since Florida Gov. DeSantis has ordered bars & night clubs to close in response to coronavirus outbreak.
The federal government could take steps to close nonessential businesses while testing to determine whether the virus is dramatically intensifying. Washington couldn’t literally prevent all Americans from leaving their homes, but most business owners would comply. People would mingle far less, reducing the rate of infection for a virus that spreads exponentially without any barriers in place.
The ripple effect is being felt in the retail, hospitality and travel industries. Employers have announced 100s of layoffs with more to come. There is not a sector in this interdependent economy that is safe from the fallout; even government workers will feel eventually the impact. The crisis is bringing people together to come up with temporary solutions to stifle the impact of the virus on workers. Trump and Democrats both say workers affected by coronavirus pandemic should get paid sick leave. And some senators are pushing legislation to send $1,000 checks to Americans as part of coronavirus response. There is no foreseeable end to this crisis, and one leading infectious disease expert says, “Things will get worse before they get better.”
The Federal government estimates about 38 million Americans will need medical care amid coronavirus concern. Many Americans still don’t have adequate health insurance (or any at all) and one major illness could wreak havoc on their financial life for years.
So what can you do if you are laid off, or get a reduced paycheck because people are “social distancing” themselves in order to avoid contracting this illness?
One option is to contact your creditors and inform them of your situation. Be proactive. Don’t wait until the accounts are sent into collection status–or worse yet, a creditor sues you in order to garnish your wages, repossess your car or even foreclose on your home. Some of your creditors will be understanding and work with you; others might not. President Trump has suspended interest on all federal student loans and some in Congress are suggesting that all collections of student loans be suspended during this crisis.
The option that offers you the best protection from creditors is bankruptcy. Once you file a petition under the bankruptcy code, creditors may not:
- Sell your home at a foreclosure sale
- Garnish your paycheck or bank account
- Contact you by phone, email or regular mail
- Repossess your car
- Collect medical (or most other) bills which you are not able to pay
If you have experienced a layoff, reduced wages or loss of income, contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC today for a free initial bankruptcy consultation. Our office has a bankruptcy lawyer who has been helping debtors discharge their debts and protect their assets for nearly 28 years. A Jacksonville Bankruptcy Lawyer can help you decide if filing bankruptcy is best for your future.