As the coronavirus spreads, Polk business owners ask for card-only transactions


POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – As more coronavirus cases pop up across Florida and the country, some Tampa Bay businesses are trying to stop the spread of the virus in their community: they’re eliminating cash.

“Debit or credit,” said Jim McFarland to a customer.

“Only?” replied the customer.

“Right now, yea,” McFarland responded.

McFarland owns McFarland’s Shoe Repair in Lakeland. He recently began asking his customers to only use credit and debit cards when they pay for shoe repairs or buy his products.

That will continue, he says, until the coronavirus, COVID-19, is gone.

“You don’t know where somebody was yesterday,” McFarland said. “You don’t know where they flew in from, where they got their cash, where their shoes walked.”

The business has been McFarland’s family for years and his reasons to go cashless are two-fold.

When he was a kid, he remembers his father telling him money was dirty.

Also, when he was going to school to get his license in Pedorthics, he took several infectious diseases courses.

When news started spreading about coronavirus, he realized he didn’t want to take the chance.

“I’d rather just let the customer put in the credit card, they can take it back out, less exposure to them,” he said. “Maybe other people can follow along and do the same thing and we can all get through this together.”

The owner of a hair salon around the corner had the same idea.

“Money’s always been dirty. That’s been a known fact forever,” said Victoria Woods, who owns End Results: A Salon & Spa.

She is also asking her customers to not use cash.

“We are doing a credit card and debit preferred and we also have hand sanitizer available to take on the go just so that we can take all the cooties away,” she said.

“That’s sort of singling out one particular item when it makes you get a sense of false security. There’s so many other objects around you,” said Dr. Daniel Haight, Vice President of Community Health and Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Lakeland Regional Health.

Dr. Haight tells News Channel 8 it is best to limit what you touch, especially out in public.

“It’s what you do after you come in contact with it. Washing your hands, cleaning them, really stops this bug,” he said. “It’s also the touching of your eyes, needs to be avoided. Touching the inside of your nose, avoid that.”

He recommends using hand sanitizer with more than 60% alcohol and staying home if you are sick, especially if you have a fever.

“Just like cold and flu, it’s best to stay at home but if you need to seek out healthcare because you’re having a severe cough, a high fever, shortness of breath, call ahead,” he said.

For the latest on COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website.

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