Bay Area feeling the effects of coronavirus outbreak

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

March 16 marks the first day many public schools and higher-education facilities in the Bay Area and beyond have shut down amid the threat of the coronavirus COVID-19.

As cities, museums and businesses continue to cancel events or close, locals are feeling the effects.

Business


Roy Green, general manager at South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center in League City, said many upcoming events and stays have been canceled.

“Obviously, like every business in the area, we’re beginning to feel the impact more and more with each passing day,” he said.

The resort serves corporate groups; transient businesses from close-by cities such as Austin and San Antonio; and tourists who come from around the world to visit Space Center Houston, the Kemah Boardwalk and Galveston Island. But with the virus outbreak, all those groups are traveling less, affecting business, Green said.

Some events scheduled at the conference center have been rescheduled as opposed to canceled outright, which can be a silver lining, Green said.


“We’re excited about that,” he said.

Shawn Saadat, corporate director hotel operations for Galveston-based 1859 Historic Hotels, which manages South Shore Harbour Resort, said the 11 hotels the company owns across the nation are all dealing with blowback from the spread of the coronavirus. In some cities, restaurants have been mandated to close. If that happened in Texas, it would affect South Shore Harbour Resort, which serves food, he said.

"We’re hoping that’s not going to be the same in Texas ... but we’ll just have to comply with the law," Saadat said.

In the meantime, the business is honoring cancellations and refunding customers. 1859 Historic Hotels is also keeping employees busy with cleaning jobs and other roles so they can continue to work in these "trying times," Saadat said.

Small local businesses suffering losses from the outbreak can seek federal aid. According to a release from the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Small Business Association is offering up to $2 million in economic injury disaster loans to help small businesses overcome temporary losses of income.

Meanwhile, grocery stores such as H-E-B, Kroger and Randalls are reducing store hours to allow more time for workers to restock shelves and even hiring additional employees to meet restocking demands.

Real estate


The effects of the coronavirus will be felt in the local real estate market, said Yolanda Ames, Bay Area real estate agent with Houston Properties Team.

As a result of the outbreak and declining oil and gas prices, the stock market is dropping. Some buyers use stocks and bonds as down payments on homes, but with the drop, they are unable to afford houses and are backing out of deals, Ames said.

"We have seen some homes go back on the market as a result," she said.

More homes may hit the market as jobs are affected by the outbreak and residents sell houses to keep finances afloat, she said.

Additionally, houses may become cheaper as more enter the market as a result of the coronavirus, making now a a good time for homebuyers, Ames said.

"The benefit for a buyer now ... is that sellers may have to make some price adjustments to sell," she said.

Those looking to sell their home should do so now. In 18 months, the housing market will adjust to the effects of the coronavirus today, Ames said.

Regardless of whether looking to buy or sell a house, Ames urged residents to not panic.

"Just know that we recover pretty well," she said. "This, too, shall pass."

Tourism and economy


Space Center Houston, one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations that sees more than 1 million visitors annually, announced in the past few days it would close down March 15-27.

No reported cases of COVID-19 have been in connection with the center, but it closed as a precaution. Salaried and hourly staff will be paid throughout the closure, according to a release on the center’s website.

Less than two weeks before closing, Space Center Houston CEO William Harris said the facility had just begun to see a drop in attendance numbers—about 20% in the last couple weeks of February. At the time, Harris and other officials thought the center would be a good alternative to out-of-state travel for locals trying to avoid the coronavirus.

Saadat, who is based on Galveston Island, said he has begun to see the effects of the coronavirus on everyday life.

"In general, it has affected the island as well," he said. "It is affecting the overall economy. That's just given."

On March 13, Dan Seal, the executive director of economic development for the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, said it was too early to tell how the coronavirus might affect the Bay Area’s overall economy.

Galveston County has so far reported only one presumptive positive case of the coronavirus. League City has postponed or canceled all city events through May 4, including the opening of Fire Station No. 6, a pet festival and more.

Community Impact Newspaper is continuing to reach out to other business owners, city and county officials, nonprofits and other sources. This story will be updated with their input.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

<

MOST RECENT

The new Macaroni penguin chicks at Moody Gardens can be seen virtually through the Penguin Webcam, according to a media release. (Courtesy of Moody Gardens)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: 3 new Bay Area businesses, plus penguins at Moody Gardens

Here is a roundup of local business news in the Bay Area.

Downtown Houston Streetscape at dusk
Mayor Sylvester Turner considering curfew as 'last resort' to curb bar and club crowding

Houston fire chief Sam Peña, whose department is responsible for monitoring occupancy violations, said fire marshals have responded to over 20,000 complaints since March 18.

College of the Mainland unveiled its new League City location Nov. 12. (Courtesy College of the Mainland)
College of the Mainland, San Jacinto College leaders talk community college education amid COVID-19

Leaders from both institutions detailed how the educational experience at their respective colleges has been adapted to meet the challenges of the pandemic.

(Courtesy Pat Hallisey)
League City officials: Mayor on the mend from COVID-19

League City Mayor Pat Hallisey, who tested positive for COVID-19 nearly two weeks ago Nov. 17, is on the mend, City Manager John Baumgartner said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Number of daily new COVID-19 cases in Galveston County up nearly 300% since late October

A total of 14,465 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-March; of the total cases, 89% are considered to have recovered.A total of 14,465 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-March; of the total cases, 89% are considered to have recovered.

Dozens of clinics throughout the county offer COVID-19 testing services. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19 testing locations remain open in Montgomery County and more local news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

Heading into Thanksgiving, Texas Medical Center continues to report uptick in hospitalizations

The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Texas Medical Center facilities has increased by more than 50% over two weeks.

The Harris County Justice Administration Department is working to release final reports and launch pilot programs in early 2021. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County Justice Administration Department makes headway on countywide criminal justice studies

The department is working to release the final versions of several studies and launch pilot programs with local law enforcement groups in early 2021.

Adelaide's sells items from local brands whenever possible, such as kits from The Heights-based My Drink Bomb. (Colleen Ferguson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Adelaide's Boutique stores strive to be ‘first-stop’ shops for gifts

The Adelaide’s Boutique locations—14870 Space Center Blvd., Houston, and 6011 W. Main St., League City—are meant to serve as customers’ destinations for clothes, shoes, accessories, gifts and other boutique items, many of which are locally sourced.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.