Study: Zika Hurt Miami Businesses

Jun 29, 2017

Zika took a bite out of business revenue in last year's outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease in Miami-Dade County, according to a new study from Florida International University.

A survey of 44 businesses in the Wynwood district in Miami, which was one of several Miami-Dade communities affected by the Zika outbreak, showed 66 percent of the businesses reported a revenue decline between 21 percent and 40 percent, according to the study, from FIU's Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work.

Thirteen percent of the businesses — which included restaurants, bars, retail stores and art galleries in the district — reported a revenue loss of between 31 and 40 percent.

Timothy Page, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, said most of the businesses did not reduce prices, adjust staff or make other major changes during the outbreak, on the assumption the downturn was temporary and business would rebound when the outbreak ended.

"Disease outbreaks can cause localized, short-term economic shocks and the impact of these shocks can be severe," said Page, who led the study. "Balancing public health needs with the financial well-being of the community is at the heart of the issue." With the return of the rainy season in South Florida, Page said local communities and businesses need to prepare for the possibility of another Zika outbreak. "Zika is imminent, and the time for planning and collaboration with local businesses is right now," he said. The FIU study will be published in "Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal" this summer.