WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill on Thursday that would amend the Small Business Act to ensure businesses negatively impacted by the onset of transmissible diseases are eligible for disaster relief.
If enacted, the Small Business Relief from Disease Induced Economic Hardship Act of 2016 would give the U.S. Small Business Administration the authority to make disaster loans readily available to small businesses that have seen a significant drop in revenue due to CDC advisories.
At the beginning of August, the CDC issued a Zika-related travel advisory for South Florida, warning locals and tourists alike to avoid the Wynwood and South Beach areas of Miami-Dade County.
“As I have said time and time again, the Zika outbreak is not just a public health emergency; it is an economic one as well,” Rubio says. “Some businesses had to reduce their hours or shut their doors after the CDC’s Zika advisories, and I want to make sure some short-term relief is available in case they need it.”
The tourism industry in Florida brings a lot of money to both small and big businesses across the state. There has been a concern regarding a lingering impact on the industry since the CDC issued the advisory last month.
“If small businesses impacted by Zika are in need of this assistance, I don’t want there to be any holdup,” said Rubio. “I hope the Administration will provide it.”
The bill must first pass through Congress before the SBA can start to issue loans for areas in South Florida.