As Covid-19 cases rose in large cities, people started moving to the suburbs in larger numbers. Crain's reports that the combination of fear, downtown office closures, and low interest rates caused home sales nearly to double in 14 Chicago-area suburbs. Barrington, a wealthy village of horse barns and huge houses, saw the largest number of home sales last month, with Lake Forest (a similar place) close behind.
Amanda Mull, writing in The Atlantic, sees this as a big gamble:
When we talk about people leaving America’s biggest cities right now, people largely means the rich. In The New York Times’ analysis of cellphone location data, 420,000 people fled New York City for some period of time from March 1 to May 1. Those who left were heavily concentrated in the city’s wealthiest zip codes, especially those in Manhattan. A similar phenomenon was found in the city’s trash-collection patterns, in which the amount of garbage dropped most sharply where rich people had vanished.
[T]he work-from-home “revolution” is already off to an uneven start, with many people returning to offices at the behest of their employers in states that have more fully reopened. There’s reason to believe that will continue.
People whose employers are amenable to fully remote work might still see consequences if they stay out of the office. Some employers could use remote work as an opportunity to tighten budgets beyond just their office leases, especially if the economy stays in a recession for a while. Facebook, among the first big companies to make working from home a permanent option, has already made clear that it will cut workers’ pay if they relocate from the Bay Area to less expensive places—a cost-cutting tactic common among employers whose workers retain their jobs when they move to less expensive areas.
There’s not much evidence that the pandemic has changed the tastes of otherwise enthusiastic city dwellers. And even if moving seems like an effective strategy to stay safe, it’s not exactly clear that it will look that way in hindsight. No one really knows how the pandemic will progress over the next year, in big cities or elsewhere. New York City’s outbreak now seems to be under far better control than those in many popular migratory destinations in the Sun Belt, which could change the calculus for panic-movers.
Those of us who love cities still love them. Of course I understand the allure of suburbs; getting out of Chicago for a few hours was one of the motivations for the Brews & Choos project. But I just don't like the costs of living in the suburbs, like having to drive everywhere, and "everywhere" means a chain restaurant or box store. The only suburbs I could imagine wanting to live in are Evanston and Oak Park, not coincidentally two of the densest in the area and both with multiple rail lines to downtown Chicago. There are millions of people who agree.
Working from home with a gigabit Internet connection has at least one major perk: TV on in the background. I've gone through a lot of it in the last six months. The Expanse, Tales from the Loop, Wyonna Earp, Warrior Nun, Upload, and The Umbrella Academy were all worth watching. Some of them even have new seasons coming out soon.
On the "return to the office full-time" front, we probably have another six months to wait. The New York Times has a rundown of the 92 Covid-19 vaccines currently under development. But despite the president's lies, none of them will be available before the election. And getting 7 (or 14) billion doses manufactured and distributed will take time as well.
So, we work from home, wash our hands, wear our masks outside, and have lots of TV on in the background. Yay us.
Just a few of the things that crossed my desktop this morning:
And last night, Cubs pitcher Alec Mills threw the club's 16th no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the history of Major League Baseball, there have only been 315 no-hitters. The last time the Cubs won a no-hitter was 51 years ago.
When you ran out on me six months ago, I thought I would never see you again. I looked everywhere, high and low, north and south, but I couldn't find you. I went online, searching even the darkest corners of the web to see if someone—anyone—could deliver you to me, but alas, no one could, not for any price. I nearly gave up hope of ever holding you again.
And then today, there you were! You and your sisters, sitting in the last place we met almost a year ago, looking just like the first time I saw you. My heart leapt with joy as I took you in my arms, reunited, at long last!
Oh, how I've missed you.
Here we go:
Finally, for only $875,000, you can own this contemporary, 2-story house...on top of an 8-story building.
I've had an unusually busy (and productive!) day, so naturally, the evening reading has piled up:
Finally, National Geographic has a slideshow of the world's best ghost towns.
With 58 days until the election, the noise keeps increasing. Here's some of it:
Finally, The Smithsonian describes how Greg Priore managed to steal priceless documents from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, because he was in charge of security for those items.
I'm glad I took a long walk yesterday and not today, because of this:
In other news:
- State health officials warn that suburban Cook County (the immediate suburbs surrounding Chicago) has experienced a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, and placed it and 29 other counties on warning that social restrictions could resume next week.
- Moreover, Covid-19 leads in a massive wave of excess deaths reported by the Cook County Medical Examiner this week. Suicides, homicides, and overdoses are also at near-record levels.
- Jonathan Russo, writing in TPM Cafe, lays out the case that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin got what he wanted with his meddling in the 2016 US elections, and stands to gain even more if the president wins (or somehow achieves) re-election.
- The nationalist, right-wing disease has started to infect Canada as well, as their new Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole has adopted a "Canada First" platform.
- Graceland Cemetery, which doubles as an arboretum, will be closed for the longest period in its 160-year history because of damage from the August 10th derecho.
- Mother Jones obtained video from a 10 December 2015 deposition showing Donald Trump boasting about his lack of ethics and ignorance of the law.
Finally, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has called for an end to Daylight Saving Time—not just the twice-annual time changes associated with the practice.
There's a lot going on today, what with the Republican National Convention celebrating the apocalypse they desperately want, but a few things outside of that also happened:
Finally, only a few blocks from my house my neighbors have set up a Wee Free Library...of sticks...for dogs.
Chicago's key Covid-19 metric, the 7-day rolling average positivity rate, ticked above 5% yesterday, as it's been near the 5% threshold for a couple of weeks. It rose from 4% to 5% between July 19th and 30th, suggesting that relaxed discipline has led to more infections.
Today Governor JB Pritzker announced stricter policies requiring masks to protect restaurant workers:
[The] new statewide restaurant and bar policy requiring all patrons to wear a mask while interacting with waitstaff and other employees, when food and beverages are brought to the table and when picking up carryout orders.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike admonished people to “stop wearing your face covering incorrectly. You’re literally contributing to infection transmission by doing so.”
Meanwhile, public health officials warn that this year's flu season could make the Covid-19 pandemic worse, and have asked everyone who's able to get a flu shot.
Meanwhile, speakers at the Republican National Convention said everything's all right, so don't worry about the virus.