Big changes are coming to the workplace
Corporate workers may barely recognize the offices they return to. Instead of open-floor layouts optimized for space, they are likely to see desks six feet apart, plastic barriers and common areas without seating.
Those precautions are among the sweeping new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on preventing the coronavirus from spreading in workplaces. The advice covers the basics, like daily temperature checks and face coverings, as well as issues like ventilation (more open windows) and communal snacks (not OK).
The agency also upended years of advice on commuting, urging people to drive to work alone, instead of taking public transit or car-pooling. To make this feasible for employees, the C.D.C. suggested companies offer reimbursement for parking or single-occupancy rides.
But some of the recommendations may be difficult, if not impossible, to follow, such as social distancing in elevators. To avoid the cost and trouble of remaking their offices, many employers may decide it’s simply easier to continue work-from-home arrangements.
A transmission mystery: Scientists don’t yet know how much exposure to the coronavirus is needed for a person to become infected. But predictions have proved particularly tricky because it behaves so differently from other viruses.
With the flu and H.I.V., for example, high levels of pathogens usually correspond with more-severe symptoms and a higher likelihood of infecting others. But with the coronavirus, asymptomatic people seem to have viral loads as high as those who are seriously ill.
The shape of recovery
Economists are mostly in agreement that the U.S. economy will soon begin to rebound as businesses reopen. But what will the shape of that recovery look like? Jeanna Smialek, who writes about the economy for The Times, surveyed the options.
The best possible scenario is a swift rebound in the second half of this year that would bounce us back to pre-coronavirus levels and create a “V”-shaped recovery. Unfortunately, economists say, this is mostly wishful thinking. Corporations and states have already cut their budgets, which will slow growth, and unemployment and economic output tend to drag for a while after a large shock.
Pessimists will tell you that our current economic situation will drag on for months, creating an “L”-shaped recovery — that is, very little progress at all. This is unlikely, though, because the economy is already showing signs of recovering. Consumer confidence is up slightly, unemployment claims are slowing, and data collected by Google shows an uptick in the number of people moving around, which may translate to more economic activity.
The checkmark, the swoosh or the wave
The Congressional Budget Office predicts a checkmark-shaped recovery, in which growth begins to rebound in July and stretches through September. The slope of the checkmark could change based on a number of variables, like a vaccine breakthrough or more government support for the economy. If the recovery happens more quickly, it would look like a Nike swoosh. Without a vaccine, states could reopen and pull back with new outbreaks, lending a wave shape to the recovery.
Play ball? Maybe soon
As states and countries figure out how to resume public life, professional sports leagues are also beginning to announce their returns.
New York City is expected to begin loosening restrictions on June 8. Under the first phase, nonessential stores could open for curbside pickup, and nonessential construction and manufacturing could resume.
In Italy, many older people have centered their anxieties — unfairly, some experts say — on the public gatherings of teenagers and young adults, fearing they could cause a second wave of infections.
Worried about its economy, India is loosening tough restrictions and may eliminate them entirely this weekend — even as its infection rate soars.
Illinois is expected to enter its third phase of reopening in the coming days, bringing back barbershops, salons, retail stores and other businesses with some limitations, even as new cases continue to rise.
What you can do
Get financial guidance. Listening to these podcasts about money can help you weather the storm created by the virus. Get timely advice from experts, hear other people’s struggles, and learn new approaches for things like budgeting.
Stream something new. The Times’s chief movie critics rounded up their picks for the best films of the year (so far) — and all of them can be watched online.
Grow a butterfly. Demand for caterpillar kits has surged during the pandemic. Watch how the insects transform over several weeks, and then release the butterflies, which are good for the environment.
What you’re doing
My husband, Ed, came up with a weekly bingo game to complete various challenges, such as going for a hike, trying a new recipe, playing a game outside and many other fun items. He invited his brothers, their wives, their kids and grandkids, and created a Google photo album to put pictures of ourselves doing the challenges. It has become so fun to wake up each morning and see what new pictures and videos have been added.
— Joni Caverly, Parker, Colo.
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