Coronavirus furloughs begin for more than 100,000 Disney, Best Buy, CarMax workers

Some furloughed workers to keep their health insurance for a time as they reach their last payday

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Indefinite furloughs began this weekend for more than 100,000 Disney, Best Buy and CarMax workers as businesses make cuts to survive the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent mandatory closures.

At "The Most Magical Place On Earth," 43,000 Disney workers began their furlough Sunday, a month after the company closed its Orlando theme parks, hotels and shopping centers. With more than 74,000 local employees on The Walt Disney Company's payroll, the furlough is a big hit to Florida's economy considering it is the state’s largest employer.

CORONAVIRUS FORCES DISNEY WORLD TO FURLOUGH 43,000 MORE WORKERS

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
DISWALT DISNEY COMPANY124.95+0.72+0.58%

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported it has received more than 647,000 benefit applications between March 15 and April 11, but only about 37,000 people have been issued payments during that same period, according to the agency's records

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For a smoother transition, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state is working on a proposal that aims to automatically enroll furloughed Disney workers for unemployment benefits, which would be done by accessing employee data from The Walt Disney Company.

FILE - In this Monday, March 16, 2020, file photo, the road to the entrance of Walt Disney World has few cars, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

"We are working with some of the really large employers that have announced furloughs to try and just get the data internally and import it because it takes stress off the system," DeSantis said Friday while naming Disney as an example. "But those folks would not be at the front of the line. The people that applied first are going to be at the front of the line."

Furloughed workers who need assistance right away can apply for unemployment benefits instead of waiting for the state to accept or reject the auto-enrollment proposal.

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Furloughs also began Sunday at electronic goods giant Best Buy for around 51,000 of its hourly store employees nationwide, a majority of which are part-time. The tech retailer reportedly employs around 125,000 people across the country.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BBYBEST BUY120.89+0.06+0.05%

Furloughed employees will receive health benefits for the next three months while most of the company's full-time store and field workers in home advisement and repair are remaining on the payroll as Best Buy continues to shift these employees to a curbside service model.

"The situation remains very fluid and there is still a great deal of uncertainty, particularly as it relates to depth and duration of store closures and consumer confidence over time," said Best Buy CEO Corie Barry. "We are taking the steps necessary to resume providing our customers in-home services in the near future, keeping in mind our overriding priority on the safety of our employees and customers."

Hew Kowalewski, a furloughed employee of Disney World stands next to window of his home Monday, April 13, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (Associated Press)

She added, "We are also preparing to re-open stores to customers as soon as it is safe to do so, with timing likely to vary at state and local levels. In the meantime, as you would expect, we are focused on making the difficult decisions necessary to ensure that at the end of this crisis Best Buy remains a strong, vibrant company."

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Used car seller CarMax furloughs for about 15,500 of its associate employees nationwide began on Saturday. The furlough applies to the majority of the associates who haven't been able to return to work amid government-mandated store closures.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
KMXCARMAX INC.91.13-0.91-0.99%

Approximately half of CarMax's stores are closed, and the ones that remain open are operating on a limited basis, according to a company press release issued earlier in the month.

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CarMax provided transition pay to impacted associates until Saturday, and is paying for health care until further notice for employees enrolled in its medical plan.

A car is parked in a contactless pickup spot at a CarMax dealership. (Photo provided)

"This has been a very difficult decision. Each and every one of our associates are incredibly important to us. We will not rest until we can start pulling our team back together," said Bill Nash, CarMax president and CEO. "I believe that these steps will help our company withstand the current environment and successfully emerge from these difficult times."

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In the U.S., there are more than 735,280 confirmed infections as of Sunday morning, according to data from the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. Globally, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 2.3 million people and caused more than 161,330 deaths at the time of publication.