On Friday, June 26th, the state of Florida reported a record number of new coronavirus cases for a single day―nearly 9,000. Florida’s number of cases has more than doubled since June 1st, prompting a pause in the state’s plan to move forward with the next stage of the reopening process. Florida began reopening the state more than a month ago, despite showing no significant decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases, and today’s record-breaking spike is creating fear that the increase is due to reopening the state and not an increase in testing. Florida does not have a mandate requiring the wearing of masks and people have been returning to the beaches, bars, and restaurants.
The coronavirus has left us as a country in uncharted territory. Although the week of June 13th saw a drop in continuing unemployment claims, the number still remains significant at more than 19.5 million people out of work. And what these recent spikes are showing is that this is going to be a long road with more stoppages along the way. Currently, the additional $600 a week that has been accompanying regular unemployment benefit checks is still slated to end on July 31st, and it’s unclear as to whether or not another stimulus check will be forthcoming anytime soon.
One thing that’s almost certain to be forthcoming is a deluge of bankruptcies. People are increasing their debt just to try to make ends meet. Because of the expected increase, the government proactively made some changes to bankruptcy laws in the CARES Act, taking into consideration what is happening with the pandemic.
There are two main changes for consumers. For Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies, any coronavirus-related payments will not be considered “disposable income” and will not affect eligibility for either chapter.
Also, if a person had a repayment plan already confirmed for Chapter 13 before March 27, 2020, and they’ve experienced hardship due to COVID-19, the repayment plan can be renegotiated to terms as high as 7 years instead of 5. This means more affordable monthly payments for the debtor.
Even before businesses were allowed to reopen, we began seeing many that will not. Many local restaurants and stores that couldn’t sustain themselves during the closures have shuttered their doors for good. Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company, CEC Entertainment, Gold’s Gym, Hertz, JCrew, and JC Penney are just a few of the companies that have been forced to file bankruptcy due to the coronavirus so there’s a good likelihood that many jobs will not be coming back.
For people who are struggling to pay their debts, bankruptcy may be a way out. It’s a difficult choice and it may not be the right one for everyone, but filing for bankruptcy protection can be a fresh start and a smart financial move.
If you are struggling financially due to COVID-19 and want to know if bankruptcy is right for you, call Miller, Hollander, & Jeda at (239)775-2000 for a free consultation and get the financial relief you need.