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Coronavirus in Florida: What Pandemic Is Like for Theme Park Workers


ORLANDO, Fla. — Four thousand phone calls.

To be more specific, Paul and Julia Cox figure they called the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity 4,480 times between April 19, when Walt Disney World furloughed them, and June 7, when glitches with their state and federal unemployment benefits were finally sorted out.

Most workers whose livelihood depends on Orlando’s ability to attract tourists in large numbers have managed to get by as the amusement economy shut down around them — though for some it has been a struggle.


“My last day of work was hard, sad, because there was a silence and a feeling of farewell, of estrangement and uncertainty, in the air. We wondered when we would meet again.”

— Karina Lira, Disney World housekeeper

Eve Edelheit reported and photographed from Orlando, and Brooks Barnes reported from Los Angeles.


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