By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The coronavirus ripple effect keeps rolling through South Florida’s economy and it is affecting thousands of workers at PortMiami.

With 176,000 workers involved in various capacities, the PortMiami is one of the cornerstones of the local economy.

The port moves 9.6 million tons of cargo every year. A good portion of it from Central America and the Caribbean.

PortMiami Director Juan Kuryla says, “Every port in Florida is hurting. Not just Florida, but nationwide.”

The story of the cruise industry is dead in the water and is tied to the PortMiami.

“A lot of the garments that are consumed here in the U.S. are made in Honduras and Guatemala. A month ago, their governments ordered the factories shut,” said Kuryla.

The port exports foodstuffs to the region and tourist-heavy destinations that have dried up.

“The large resorts in the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic that cater to tourists, get supplies from the U.S. and Port of Miami and other ports are down because of the lack of tourist market in the Caribbean,” said Kuryla.

Europe’s trade continues to be steady. Fruit and vegetables from Latin America and the Caribbean are maintaining, but the cargo side of the port is down about 15-20 percent.

Thousands of union workers and teamsters who move cargo and service cruise ships have been getting smacked by the port slow down.

“Remember the I.L.A. (labor union representing longshore workers along the East Coast) does cargo and cruise. Since March 13th, there have been no cruises,” said Kuryla.

“And that 1.4 million hours a year that the cruise industry represents to the I.L.A. and to that, you add to that we are down 10-15-20 percent on the cargo side, which means less ships.”

The port director tells CBS4 that three large container ships loaded with cargo for PortMiami never even sailed from China.

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