Escape from New York

Large numbers of New Yorkers fled their plague-ridden city to wait out the epidemic in less-horrible havens from southern Florida to Martha’s Vineyard. How many will stay away for good?

Five percent of New York City’s population has fled since the coronavirus pandemic gripped the city, new smartphone data reveals.

From March 1 to May 1, about 420,000 residents of the Big Apple – home to nearly 8.4 million people – particularly from the wealthiest neighborhoods, reported The New York Times.

While there was relatively little change in some zip codes, others such as SoHo, the West Village, Morningside Heights, the Upper East Side, the Financial District, Midtown, Gramercy and Brooklyn Heights emptied by at least 40 percent.

Meanwhile, Manhattan’s overall population has fallen by almost 20 percent as the lockdown enters its third month.

Of course, they spread the virus far and wide in the process:

People that live in vacation towns, such as the Hamptons in Long Island and the Catskills in upstate, complained that their grocery stores were being emptied by city people who were living in their summer homes.

Last month, officials said the price of rental homes in the Hamptons soared from $5,000 per month to more than $30,000 for a two-weeks period.

Small town populations practically doubled as Big Apple residents fled to their summer homes, but locals said city dwellers were bringing COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, with them.

By the way, how do so many companies have access to our phone location data?

For its report, The Times looked at data provided by New Mexico-based Descartes Labs, a geospatial imagery analytics company.

The company used anonymous smartphone geolocation data to track where New York City residents were in February, and whether they left the city or not after the pandemic.

Will there be a massive exodus of young professionals from the New York metro area when the dust settles? I would put the odds at 50-50. Perhaps workers with families will migrate permanent from Manhattan’s office towers to their comfy suburban home offices, while those with fewer attachments will just flee the region to sunnier climes.

A failure of optics

I have no issue with China celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC with a huge military parade. From what I can observe, the patriotic feelings generated by this event seem to be totally sincere. What I do have an issue with, is New York City joining in celebrating the founding of a Communist state by lighting up one of its iconic towers in the colors of the Chinese flag. Seriously, New York?

In the meantime, China’s flag was raised at Boston City Hall, much to the irritation of John Robb. (More details here.)

The Canadians and Australians are beginning to push back against official or quasi-official displays of the Chinese flag. In Toronto:

Dozens came out to support the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China at a flag raising at Toronto city hall, but it was a ceremony that the mayor opted to skip.

Don Peat, a spokesperson for John Tory, told Global News a number of issues between Canada and China were a great enough concern that Tory decided not to attend.

Peat did not elaborate on what Tory’s issues were specifically, but he said Tory “believes in democracy and the rule of law.”

In Melbourne:

Residents in Melbourne are outraged after a police station held a flag raising ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Communist rule in China.

A large crowd gathered at Box Hill station on Tuesday to remember how revolutionary leader Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

Anger has been stirred at the celebration marking China’s annual National Day public holiday, in light of Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The station in Melbourne’s east is also in rookie Liberal MP Gladys Liu’s federal electorate of Chisholm, which has a higher-than-average Chinese population.

The Hong Kong-born backbencher’s ties to groups linked to the Chinese Communist Party have already sparked an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation investigation.

This sort of thing will be banned across the West before long.