• Greg Hinz On Politics
  • Greg Hinz On Politics

    Coronavirus impact hits home in Chicago

    Just as 9/11 changed us and how we live, this was the day it truly became clear that coronavirus will do the same here.

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    79彩票注册网址Those of us of an age will recall just how much changed the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. 

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    79彩票注册网址All of a sudden, as fast as a crashed plane can take down a soaring tower, America was no longer in charge of the world, or even of its own territory. Terrorists were. We’re still living with the consequences every day, be it taking off your shoes at the airport, soaring security bills, still-raging Mideast wars or petty prejudice against those of Arabic descent. We’ve changed.

    Now another day that augurs to be at least as momentous as 9/11 has arrived.

    Today is the day COVID-19 truly came home to Chicago.

    The St. Patrick’s Day parade was canceled. Prudential Plaza, the place where thousands work and the home of a lunch cafe I often patronize, was hit with its first case of virus infection. McCormick Place’s spring schedule of trade shows and conventions is pretty much toast. The World Health Organization officially declared the virus a pandemic. The total number of U.S. cases soared to well over a 1,000 from just a few dozen barely a week ago—this without the widespread testing that Donald Trump’s White House blithely suggested was unnecessary.

    There will be more.

    Employers all around the city are notifying their staffers of how to work from home. The impact on shops and restaurants that depend on those workers will be brutal. Ditto the Chicago Transit Authority and Metra, which already have a hard enough problem balancing their budgets.

    Speaking of budgets, city and state officials have been whistling by the graveyard when asked about the effect of so much economic activity coming to a screeching halt. But sooner or later they’ll have to deal with the impact.

    More. The NCAA already is talking about making its annual basketball tournament a TV-only event, with no live audiences. Can opening day at the ol’ ballpark be far away from the same fate? Chicago-based United Airlines has slashed its schedule. Chicago-based Boeing, already facing big problems with 737 Max demand, reportedly now is drawing down its full $14 billion bank credit line. Election officials all but begged people not to show up at the polls on March 17 but instead do things like vote early and by mail.

    More. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease official in the federal government, told Congress this morning that COVID-19 is 10 times more deadly than the flu. The stock market—and your IRA—is flirting with bear market status as I write this. Chicago hoteliers have slashed their orders for everything except red ink.

    79彩票注册网址Sure, all of this will pass, some day. Panic is not in order. The globe will still spin. But Chicago, whose stock in trade is as a transportation and service center, hasn’t been the same since 9/11. The slow but sure shutdown of widespread meetings and travel that this virus has sparked suggests another round of long-lived change.

    79彩票注册网址The one silver lining: Bad as this outbreak is, it could be worse. It could be even more deadly. Consider that to be a warning to a world increasingly used to mass travel, and a city that serves as a center of that travel. When this is over, we’re going to have lots and lots of work to do, because other diseases are inevitable. I hope our government and our leaders are up to the task.

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