Concerns over Covid-19 have devastating effect on the economy

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Covid-19 is creating a ripple effect for companies across the Tri-Cities with slow business, hour adjustments, and complete closures.

“There were several projects that I had for several business owners, restaurant business owners that went ahead and pulled the plug until a later date,” said Johnson City Heating and Air owner, Ed Ritsko.

Normally, his 10 servicers go out on 12-15 calls a day. But now, there are only one or two jobs a day. He also says he has to buy extra supplies to protect those workers.

“We’re having to buy suits and booties and masks and a lot of Lysol. We’re buying hand sanitizer,” said Ritsko. “It’s made for a lot more going out than coming in.”

He’s worried that eventually, he will have to lay people off.

“I’m scared…I’m really worried about the employees that work for me because I want to make sure that they’re able to pay their bills,” Ritsko said.

Ritsko isn’t the only one.

“Already, we are seeing an influx of unemployment claims come into our office. They’ve tripled in the last week- the number of claims that we’ve had to process and we are working to process,” said Chris Cannon, the Assistant Administrator for the Communications Division at the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce.

The department has moved people and assets around for this “unprecedented emergency that the state has never really had to deal with before.”

He says the department is prepared with a fund to help people who are out of work make ends meet.

“No one knows what going to happen a week from now, no one knows what’s going to happen a month from now or how serious this situation will get,” Cannon said. ” But, right now with our projections from economists, it does look like Tennessee is prepared to handle this employment emergency.”

New resources are available for employers and employees impacted by Covid-19. The
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce website is now updated with frequently asked questions, forms, and other information.

Employees can learn more about unemployment benefits and the process. Employers can also learn about creating layoff lists.

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