By Joan Murray

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – While Broward County leaders try to limit the spread of the coronavirus, they are coming to grips with the economic impact of the outbreak.

The normally busy breezeway at Fort Hollywood International Airport is empty.

Planes are parked. The parking lots have plenty of spaces and travel is down to a trickle. It equals to a drastic cut in revenue and jobs.

Part of the bad news delivered to Broward County commissioners on the impact the coronavirus outbreak is having countywide.

Port Everglades had a slightly better picture while the cruise industry is shut down, the port still makes money on oil and cargo.

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony told the commission.

“They have enough protective gear for now. One firefighter is recovering from the virus and they are keeping thousands of staff and jail inmates safe.”

“Everyone goes through a quick intake temperature check before anyone comes to work.”

The most dismal news was from the tourism bureau.

The beaches are shut, so are hotels and restaurants. Thousands are out of work suddenly and the worse is probably yet to come.

Nancy and Rick Zimmerman are yearly visitors and rent a condo. They say most people in their building
have booked for the next year.

“I have confidence in this country. It is still a nice place to be.”

On Tuesday morning, Broward commissioners held a special meeting to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and what impact it is having on the county.

The workshop was a way for commissioners to get an update on how the coronavirus is affecting the various departments and agencies within the county. Only Broward Mayor Dale Holness and a handful of commissioners were physically present at the government center, the rest weighed in over the phone.

The first person to speak was Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony. He informed the commissioners that only one member of the department had tested positive for the coronavirus, a firefighter paramedic. Tony said he was doing well and should return to work soon.

Tony also mentioned that deputies are using discretion when it comes to arrests since they do not want to overwhelm the jail. He said no one at the county’s jails has tested positive and they want to keep it that way.

Tony said they strict protocols in place for everyone being checked into the jail, as well as for the people who work there.

The county’s director of aviation, Mark Gale, spoke about the devastating effect that the virus is having on the airport. He said revenues are way down, they aren’t getting money from concessions and are they’re getting money from traffic because it is down to a trickle. He said only about 15 percent of the public is traveling right now.

There has been no mention of totally shutting down the operation, to shut down airports domestically, and they do have a contingency plan in place.

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Port Everglades Director Steven Cernak said the port was in pretty good financial shape because they do not just rely on the cruise industry which has been temporarily shut down. He said with cargo and the oil operations still ongoing, revenue was ahead of schedule as of February. He added they were still trying to determine the impact of the cruise industry shutdown. He said the do have a contingency plan in place.