Rural towns in Appalachia hit hard by the coal industry’s collapse are going through another wave of economic grief as coronavirus reaches their doorsteps, WFPL News Louisville reports.
Whitesburg, Kentucky already saw its number of coal miners go from 13,000 in 2009 to less than 100 today. Now, many service and restaurant workers are seeing their jobs disappear as businesses close following Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s order last week to limit restaurant service to take-out only. The state has received 23,600 unemployment claims in just three days last week, compared to 2,000 in a usual week.
“I don’t foresee every business making it through this,” Alison Davis, Executive Director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky at the University of Kentucky, which helps miners and communities transition off the coal industry and prepare for climate change, told WFPL.
“When we’ve tried to prepare communities to be resilient after disasters, this is not the kind of disaster we’ve tried to prepare communities for.”