April 22, 2024

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Deciding Where to Live: Key Factors Now

Moving to Another State

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A lot of people in the U.S. are moving during the pandemic. This means good business for many long-distance moving companies. A June 2020 survey showed that about 20 percent of the U.S. population moved or knew somebody who moved because of Covid-19. Another survey in November 2020 showed that 35 percent moved in 2020, a further nine percent moved in 2020 and will be moving again in 2021, and a larger 56 percent are moving in 2021.

Among those who are moving in 2021, Covid-19 is a consideration for only 13 percent. The top reason is to seek a more affordable place for 47 percent and to be nearer family for 30 percent. Tying with Covid-19 at 13 percent is to seek good schools. Other reasons are job-related, with 19 percent moving because they could do so with flexible work arrangements, 16 percent to find better jobs, eight percent being hired for new jobs, and six percent due to job transfers. Another reason is relationship change.

Related to seeking more affordable areas is the move of 40 percent from larger cities to the suburbs, small towns, or rural areas. Half are moving to afford a home with more space for a home office, distance learning, and more. These spaces are much needed during the pandemic.

Covid-19 Concerns

As of this month, people planning to move will have to consider the Covid-19 status in the areas they are moving to. The Delta variant has led to major spikes in several states, and it is not advisable to move into hotspots.

In the first week of August, the White House reported that about one-third of all new Delta cases and even more hospital admissions are concentrated in Texas and Florida, while about 17 percent are in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. These are also the states with the lowest vaccination rates.

CNBC reported that there were also high spikes in Oregon and Hawaii. As of Aug 15, there was a seven-day national average of 130,710 cases. This is 20 percent more than the previous week’s average. The seven-day national average for deaths due to Covid-19 was 687. This was 36 percent higher than the previous week.

The ten states with the highest percentages of Covid-19 vaccinations are Vermont at 66.8 percent, Massachusetts at 64.6 percent, Maine at 64.4 percent, Connecticut at 64.1 percent, Rhode Island at 62.4 percent, Maryland at 59.7 percent, New Jersey at 59.3 percent, New York at 58.1 percent, New Hampshire at 58.7 percent, and Washington at 58.5 percent. These are all higher than the national average full vaccination percentage of 50.4 percent of the population.

USA Today reported that as of Aug 17, the states with decreasing cases of Covid 19 are Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Vermont, Nebraska, and Nevada.

Wildfires and Covid-19 Linked

Before deciding based on Covid-19 data, though, people must also consider the ongoing wildfires and drought. While Covid-19 cases are declining in Nevada and Nebraska, these are states prone to wildfires and currently have ongoing fires. People prone to respiratory diseases must also avoid Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Vermont even if Covid-19 cases are decreasing because these states have smoke-filled air due to the wildfires in other states.

As of Aug 17, the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) declared a National Preparedness Level 5 (PL 5), the highest danger level for wildfires. There are still ongoing wildfires in Montana, Washington, California, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, with over 2.2 million acres already burned since there are often several fires concurrent in each state.

Apart from risks to property and the evacuation of residents, pollution from wildfires also increase the risk of Covid-19 infection and death, according to a study published in The Harvard Gazette. The study covered California, Oregon, and Washington at the height of wildfires from August 15 to October 15, 2020.

It found that from September 14 to 17, the fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) in smoke reached hazardous levels based on standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By tracking the days with the highest pollution levels, the researchers found that 19,700 Covid-19 cases and 750 deaths in the three states were caused by PM2.5 increases daily.

Finding Your Place

It is no longer a simple matter to find a place to settle down these days. There are many factors to consider, and these must be compared to each other. Overall, health and safety must still be the paramount reasons in deciding.