PHOENIX - First, there was a toilet paper shortage. Now, the U.S. is facing a new shortfall due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This time, it's coins.
In early June, the Federal Reserve said, “The COVID‐19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin.”
“To ensure a fair and equitable distribution of existing coin inventory to all depository institutions, effective June 15, the Federal Reserve Banks and their coin distribution locations began to allocate available supplies of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to depository institutions as a temporary measure,” the Federal Reserve said.
Now, businesses are asking people to either pay with exact change, or pay with credit or debit cards.
Valley business reacts to shortage
Those that rely mostly on change are concerned, including Steve Matrix, who owns a laundromat in Phoenix. Like many laundromats, 24 Hour Laundromat's machines and dryers are coin-operated.
"Wthout quarters, we are dead in the water," said Matrix, who caught wind of the shortage early on and headed to the bank right away.
"They had two boxes on hand, and I said put my name on them, and I asked them to order two more boxes," said Matrix. "Each box of quarters is $500, so we go through quite a few quarters around here."
The boxes should last about a month. Matrix says if the shortage continues longer than that, the business may be in trouble.
"It is a little concerning because we need to adopt early," said Matrix. "If this coming down the pipe, we need to know so we can start converting our machines to other means of payment."
Valley economic expert speaks out
Rick Merritt, President of Valley economic firm Elliott D. Pollack & Company, says what people are seeing is a lack of coin circulation, which is what keeps the system moving.
"Apparently, people are, for reasons of their own health and safety, they are not paying with cash as much. They are paying with credit cards and debit cards," said Merritt.
Merritt says the economy will come back, it's just a matter of when. He also says this is a good time to empty out those piggy banks and those coin jars sitting around your house, and take that money to the bank.
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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu.
Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.
CDC Website for COVID-19
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