The most densely populated cities are ground zero for the virus' rapid spread and highest death tolls — and they're also likely to be pioneers in making lasting changes to help prevent the same level of devastation in the future.
The big picture: The combination of urbanization, climate change and a hyper-connected society means infectious disease epidemics are likely to become more common, the World Economic Forum warns.
Here are predictions from urban experts on how cities might change:
Buildings: We spend 90% of our time indoors. Whitney Austin Gray, senior vice president of the International WELL Building Institute, says building owners should improve air ventilation and filtration to control microbes and mold in the air. Increasing indoor humidity can also help us to be less susceptible to germs.
Streets and sidewalks: "When we start to think about social distancing, we may see a rapid transition to broader sidewalks and closing streets and giving people more space to get around in cities," said Brooks Rainwater, director of the National League of Cities' Center for City Solutions.
Transportation: At least at first, commuters are likely to view personal cars as safer than public transit or shared options like e-scooters or ride-hailing, says David Zipper, a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Taubman Center for State and Local Government.
Airports: Temperature checks and other health screenings will likely become more common, Richard Florida and Steven Pedigo write in a piece published by the Brookings Institution.
Remote work: This prolonged period of working from home is expected to accelerate corporate America's acceptance of remote work as a more permanent part of workplace culture.
Digital services: Cities have been forced to deliver more resident services digitally. They may find that there are certain efficiencies to continuing to work this way, or at least being prepared to so, according to What Works Cities.
How we shop, eat and gather: People will likely want to better manage their experiences in stores and restaurants by paying closer attention to crowds and cleanliness, said Carl Bialik, data science editor at Yelp. "Now there will be a spotlight on how establishments are adhering to health standards," he said.
Reality check: In many cases, the COVID-19 outbreak will accelerate trends that were already underway. The new normal may, in fact, feel pretty normal.
- "At the end of the day, cities shall remain, they just may transform into something a little bit different," said Phillip Kash, partner at HR&A Advisors, an urban planning firm.
Read the full story for more details and quotes from the experts I spoke to.