Two months into the stay-at-home order, nearly every sector of life along the Midpeninsula is moving ahead at a new pace: Real estate activity and consumer spending have plummeted, but so have pollution, traffic and overall crime. Schools and cities are preparing for massive budget cuts while hospitals are seeing an unprecedented outpouring of donations. Meanwhile, unemployment has surged along with local volunteer efforts.
The pandemic is changing how we live and has revealed the community at its best and worst along the way. To show how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted daily life, the Palo Alto Weekly has woven together local, regional and national numbers into a series of interactive infographics, which can be found here.
Small businesses have been among the hardest hit. Only 58% of business owners surveyed in Palo Alto said they are likely to reopen. The community has already seen iconic eateries, such as Mountain View's 75-year-old Clarke's Charcoal Broiler, shutter. It has also seen patrons near and far pitch in to raise $130,000 to save Menlo Park's Cafe Borrone.
Overall, Silicon Valley consumers have decreased their spending at restaurants by 25%, and their retail spending has dropped 59% compared to the same time last year, leaving at least 8,560 service employees at risk of losing their jobs in coming months, according to an April consumer spending report from the Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Institute for Regional Studies.
In April alone, 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs, pushing the national unemployment rate to 14.3%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Local unemployment rates in cities along the Midpeninsula now range between 5.5% and 12.4%.
One in 4 residents surveyed nationwide said they could not afford to pay full rent or mortgage in April. Locally, the need for rental assistance has skyrocketed, with one local service agency seeing demand in Mountain View alone increase about five times during the first two weeks after the shutdown. To meet the rising need, a coalition of local companies, nonprofits and public government agencies in Santa Clara County cobbled together $11 million to launch a COVID-19 assistance fund. McNellis Partners, a major commercial property owner in Palo Alto, also stepped up to assist his tenants by waiving rent for the month of April.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.