Last Wednesday, Gentzel and Maribel Perez Wadsworth, president of Gannett’s news division and publisher of USA TODAY, wrote a joint op-ed in USA TODAY urging local communities to support small businesses during the crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ground everyday life in the U.S. and other parts of the world to a halt. More than 33,000 cases of illness have been reported in the U.S. and more than 400 people have died.
Small businesses have been hit hard. Many shut down to help curb the spread of the virus, though essential businesses have largely remained open, including grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies, some with shortened hours to clean and restock. Many restaurants are also open but only offer takeout or delivery orders.
Dinner reservation app OpenTable released new data showing just how severe the situation is for restaurants throughout the country. Sit-down dining at U.S. restaurants that participate in the company’s reservation system have screeched to a halt. Reservations and walk-ins on Saturday, March 21, were down 100% from the same day in 2019, according to OpenTable.
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Lawmakers are working on emergency packages to help small businesses cover expenses as they remain shut down while consumers shelter at home and practice social distancing.
On Saturday during a White House coronavirus task force briefing, President Donald Trump said he talked with thousands of small-business owners about the crisis in a conference call. He also has spoken with restaurant industry representatives.
“I assured them my administration is doing everything within its very considerable power to support them and their employees,” Trump said.