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"We literally may not be able to pay our bills" | Workers, small businesses feeling the coronavirus pinch

With business down, small business owners are trying to find a way to pay their staff and their bills.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — No matter the industry, making the decision to stay open or close during the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is a tough one.

If you still have the choice to make, some are following recommendations just to keep their business alive while others are already choosing to close. 

"Number one, I was freaking out," said Dr. Harvey Spencer, Jr., a dentist in Rock Hill. 

He and his wife's dentist office, A Healthy Smile, is still open, but they've scaled back on what they do. 

"We work in the mouth, so this is how it's transmitted," he said as he talked about the concerns dentists have with the coronavirus and its continuous spread.

The American Dental Association recommended dentist stop all elected procedures, and Dr. Spencer said they are following those guidelines.

"If it's just a regular filling or cleaning, stay home," he said. 

However, the safeguards have hit business hard. Spencer was able to pay his staff on Friday, but the office is cutting back on shifts, vowing not to let anybody go during the turbulent times.

"We are running off a skeleton staff, we aren't seeing as many patients. We literally may not be able to pay our bills two or three months from now," Dr. Spencer said.

It's the same concern for Emily Burkhart, who cuts hair at a Plaza Midwood salon that's decided to close after Saturday.

"Our owners are taking into consideration, just like every other business owner -- what's best for the public and what's also best for us," she explained. 

Burkhart said she fully supports the decision to close the salon out of an abundance of caution, and noted the decline in business since the virus started to spread in Mecklenburg County. 

But it also means there will be no money coming in for some time.

"I'm going to be filing for unemployment, that's definitely something I'm going to be doing," she said. 

The single mother said she will be stretched thin, but will budget her funds and lean on her family during the hard times. She said she feels bad for those who have nobody to lean on. 

"It's a concern," she said. 

A difficult time for everyday Americans, who now find themselves in unthinkable situations.

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