United States of Work

A small-town doctor coping with COVID-19 disruption

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst Apr 14, 2020
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Dr. Scott Anzalone at his independent medical practice, in Logan, Ohio, Stagecoach Family Medicine. Cassidy Brauner
United States of Work

A small-town doctor coping with COVID-19 disruption

Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst Apr 14, 2020
Dr. Scott Anzalone at his independent medical practice, in Logan, Ohio, Stagecoach Family Medicine. Cassidy Brauner
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One month ago today, the U.S. Surgeon General recommended that hospitals and health care systems consider postponing elective medical procedures. 

Doing so helps flatten the curve, preserves masks and other equipment, and can reduce strain on medical professionals. But it also means cutting off revenue for all kinds of medical establishments, big and small. 

Dr. Scott Anzalone is an independent family physician in Logan, Ohio, who owns a small practice, Stagecoach Family Medicine. A month ago he told “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal that his biggest single worry wasn’t the virus, but what it could do to the economy. 

When we called him back this week to check in, he told us that his patient load has decreased as much as 50%. “We’re hanging in there, day by day,” he said. “I’m trying to keep my employees all employed so they don’t have shortened paychecks.” Although Anzalone said he has been approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, he hasn’t received any money yet. 

But this small-town doctor isn’t just dealing with COVID-19 disruption in his medical practice. As president of the local school board, he’s also facing an array of challenges related to school closures. 

Remote learning in a county where many people lack access to the internet is a challenge. The Logan-Hocking School District is working on innovative ways to extend its internet infrastructure — like using school buses to offer Wi-Fi. 

“We’re looking at putting hotspots in our buses and driving them out to remote areas,” he told “Marketplace.” “Kids could then drive to a hotspot area, download their work, or if it reaches their home they would have access in their homes.”

Anzalone said the district has the devices and hopes to pilot the program soon.

Clarification (April 14, 2020): This story has been updated to more accurately describe the school bus internet.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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