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Florida Shudders as Zika Spread Forces Miami Shops to Close

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Cafes and art galleries in Miami’s Wynwood Art District would normally be bustling this week, even during some of the hottest days of the year, but with Zika virus spreading in the area, businesses like Wynwood Yard and Gallery 212 are keeping their doors shut.

There were 16 cases of mosquito-transmitted Zika reported in the mainland U.S. as of Friday, and health officials have traced most to a square-mile area north of downtown Miami. Empty streets there reminded Gallery 212 owner Michael Perez of when he had to temporarily close a store in New York in 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I’m just like living my life all over again, with this Zika thing,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s crazy, the streets are bare right now.”

The vast majority of the 1,825 Zika cases in the U.S. have involved travelers to more severely affected countries. With the Florida outbreak, business executives are hoping the Zika-caused slowdown in other regions won’t come to the U.S. as well. SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., with theme parks Tampa and Orlando, tried on Thursday to reassure investors that the Miami transmissions will be contained.

“Could it impact us? Yes, but we’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re on top of it,” Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said Thursday on an earnings conference call. “The whole industry in Orlando does an incredibly good job of mosquito abatement so we think we can keep it to a minimum.” – READ MORE

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