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HU Scripps students report on money matters in their hometowns during pandemic

HAMPTON, Va. (March 23, 2020) - Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications students have shifted to remote learning while campus classrooms are closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

That has not stopped Arykah Edwards, Carson Hedgepeth, Kayla Holmes and Aniyah Oberlton, students in Professor Butch Maier’s JAC 451 Business Journalism class, from taking care of business. The four reported last night on the financial state of their four home states.

In Richmond, Virginia, restaurants, beauty salons and fitness centers have closed temporarily or made changes to their businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. Small businesses such as Southern Kitchen – an up-and-coming restaurant in Richmond – feel the effects of the virus financially. “This restaurant is my household,” owner Shane Thomas said. “If business continues to be this slow, it may be hard for me and my family.” Also, the U.S. Small Business Administration allows businesses in Virginia to apply for economic disaster loans due to the spread of the coronavirus. The program will make loans up to $2 million available for affected industries, according to Forbes. - Arykah Edwards

In Detroit, Michigan, Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler will close their plants due to the coronavirus outbreak. GM and Ford both said in statements that they would progressively shut down the plants. This comes just months after Ford Motor Co. promised an investment of nearly $1.5 billion in two Michigan assembly plants. According to Local 4 News, the investment will create 3,000 factory jobs in a politically pivotal state. “GM and the UAW have always put the health and safety of the people entering GM plants first, and we have agreed to a systematic, orderly suspension of production to aid in fighting COVID-19,” GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said. The auto companies are working with the United Auto Workers union to make sure everyone still gets paid. - Carson Hedgepeth

Business Journalism Class Closed

In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan is taking precautions against COVID-19. In order to keep Marylanders informed, Hogan has live updates and videos available on his Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Maryland is under a state of emergency. The office of the governor’s website said earlier this month that a supplemental budget was submitted for the 2021 Fiscal Year, which requested $10 million for coronavirus preparedness expenses. There have been closures of restaurants, schools and mass gatherings, plus restrictions on the amounts of people gathering at once. “There’s been a mandatory shutdown of business,” said Wesley Jenkins, who owns Tiger Karate and Fitness in Waldorf. “All martial arts schools are happening online so there’s no physical contact with the students.” - Kayla Holmes

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mayor Jim Kenney ordered residents to stay at home starting today, according to The Inquirer. The government is working on offering financial assistance to those affected due to closings caused by COVID-19. The city has postponed evictions, foreclosures and utility shut-offs, and announced a partnership to help people in need during the crisis. The fund was seeded with $6.5 million by multiple foundations. “I’ve been out of work for a week,” said Tyler Jackson, a school district employee. “My mom says the government is ready to send checks to families, so I guess I won’t be going back next week like my job planned.” The city of Philadelphia is dedicated to helping their residents get through this pandemic. - Aniyah Oberlton