COVID-19 Trends of the Week: Oct. 5-9

President Trump delays relief talks. How effective is the home office? More hotels coming into play. These are the trends that shaped coronavirus coverage this week.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called on Congress to do whatever possible to provide more relief and keep the economy afloat. Lawmakers have been discussing a new relief bill since before the CARES Act expired at the end of July.

  1. To the industry’s chagrin, President Trump curtails relief plan talks. 
Federal relief package negotiations
Image by Martin Falbisoner/Creative Commons

Following his release from Walter Reed Hospital, President Trump announced he was postponing negotiations with Congressional Democrats on further Federal economic relief until after the election. But then said he would sign a stand-alone bill for one-off checks to consumers, a new round of small business loans and more payroll assistance for the airline industry. The delay sent alarm bells throughout the real estate industry.

White House Delays Stimulus Talks Past Election Day
Commercial Property Executive

Stimulus Relief Talks Called Off, Alarming Industry Groups
Multi-Housing News

As Trump Pulls Plug on Relief Talks, Almost Half of Small Businesses Need Further Financial Support 
Mortgage Professional America

2. Is the great work-from-home experiment a bust? Not for many companies.

Reports released this week provided a couple of good reasons for returning to the office: Gender equity is suffering with more women having to stay home to care for children and work-from-home may not be as productive as everyone thought. Regardless, however, more large employers are making work-from-home at least a partial component of their occupancy plans during and after the pandemic.

Women in Green Building Struggle With Pandemic Impacts: USGBC 
Commercial Property Executive

Stanford Professor on the New Remote Work Economy: A ‘Productivity Disaster’ and ‘Ticking Time Bomb for Inequality’  

Up to 30% of JPMorgan Staff Will Work From Home on Rotating Basis: Jamie Dimon
Fox Business

3. With travel still suppressed, hotel companies start shifting gears.

Hotels are hurting, and there doesn’t seem to be an end to the suffering yet. This week a big hotel owner ended its relationship with Marriott over lost revenue and announced plans to sell a large number of properties. Meanwhile, the talk of converting hotels into luxury apartments, affordable housing or offices and other uses is getting louder and more frequent. 

Service Properties Trust Terminates Agreements for 122 Marriott Hotels 
Commercial Property Executive

Pummeled by the Pandemic, Hotel Owners Get Creative With Their Space  
New York Times

Can Empty Offices and Hotels Help Alleviate the Housing Crisis?