Please Don't Breathe in the Elevator

Mish

Reopening is quite a bit harder than anyone thought.

Reopening Dilemma 

How do corporations get people to the 100th floor or even the 10th floor of a crowded building?

Texas tried reopening offices early. Now there is a surge and corporations don't know how to deal with it.

Some companies brought back office workers in May or early June only to face coronavirus outbreaks within days or weeks. Others still can’t figure out how to send people up a 50-story skyscraper. Chevron says limiting riders on some elevators would create dangerous crowding in lobbies, so the company is telling its masked workers to refrain from speaking on the ride up.

Refilling Chevron Corp.’s two high-rise office towers in downtown Houston is a daunting task. Of 7,000 workers, roughly 350 are back, says Dave Payne, the company’s vice president of health, environment and safety. The company has parking spaces for less than a third of its employees. Previously, thousands had counted on van pools and public buses, which are currently deemed too risky. When arriving, employees must undergo a thermal imaging scan before entering the building.

Group 1 Automotive Inc., one of the nation’s largest publicly traded car dealership chains, kept its Houston headquarters open for a small number of employees until mid-June, when an employee contracted the virus, said Frank Grese, senior vice president of human resources.

After the positive Covid test, Group 1 shut its headquarters for two weeks as a precaution. It reopens Monday on a restricted basis, with employees only coming in when absolutely necessary and returning to remote work as quickly as possible, Mr. Grese says. Wearing a mask will be required and the building won’t have more than 15% of the employees who usually work there.

What Are Corporations Supposed to Do?

It is easy for people to protest in the streets as happened in Michigan and other places with Trump egging them on.

But if corporations do not provide a safe work environment, they are subject to huge lawsuits. 

At a local level, a bar owner might decide "go to hell, this is my business" but one disgruntled customer who ends up with a $100,000 hospital bill and files suit could mean the end of that business.

It's Not Just Deaths that Matter

There is too much emphasis on deaths and not enough on hospital costs, threats of lawsuits, and simple logistics like how do we safely get people to the 50th floor?

Reopenings in Reverse

Texas and Florida reopenings are now in reverse.

  1. Texas Shuts Bars at Noon as Covid Cases Surge
  2. Drinking Banned at Florida Bars and What About the NBA?

Apology Needed

On May 20, Sean Hannity told the "mob and the media" that they owe Florida Governor Ron DeSantis an apology.

Dear Sean Hannity: Who Owes Whom an Apology?

Mish

Comments (62)
No. 1-24
Russell J
Russell J

I was just talking with another contractor the other day and he told me a friend of his that leases a floor in a building for his insurance buss. is breaking the lease and having everyone work from home. Your elevator reference reminded me of it because this guy was having the same issue, how do you get people up there safely ? Seems like everyone has a health issue or lives with someone who has a health issue and the employer does bear some responsibility to keep the employees safe. Why take a chance of having to defend yourself in court, even if you win what a pain the ass.

Another conversation I had with a property manager told me people are just cleaning out the offices and breaking the lease when I asked about how they were dealing with the no eviction situation.

Commercial office space is sure to have some tough times ahead.

WildBull
WildBull

This will be like car collision fraud. No one that reopens will be safe from a suit.

Montana33
Montana33

There is much discussion about legal liability but a person can catch a virus anywhere and companies who follow County health guidelines should be protected but we don’t have any court precedents to rely on. That doesn’t mean it’s morally right to put your vulnerable workers at risk. However - federal unemployment is going to end soon for many people and we still have tens of millions out of work. Something has got to give.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else".

Winston Churchill

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

"Reopening is quite a bit harder than anyone thought."

...

Hhmm, what does the playbook say? .... oh yeah, that's right .... some Federal Reserve mumbo jumbo + legislation that by and large provide huge gifts to the top 10% ... and a pittance for everyone else ... will it work THIS time?? ...

njbr
njbr

We have contracts right now for the addition of elevator shafts in building, and have seen plans for the addition of shafts on the exterior of a couple of buildings.

NewUlm
NewUlm

My office "opened" today in Seattle, I bet less than 10 of 250 actually show up. The process to work in the office negates the benefits of going to the office. Here are some examples...

  • 4 people in an elevator
  • Temp check, wrist bands, survey
  • Hotel desks only, you have to clean on arrival
  • Mask required when not at a desk
  • Limited space in conference rooms
  • Desk cleaning at departure

Plus, I bet 75% of staff commutes via public transportation or vanpools - who wants to do that? It's going to be a slow, slow recovery.

Anda
Anda

I think Diamond Princess explained it quite clearly for us.

For lifts, setting up a strong vertical filtered ventilation in the space would help. Just don't touch the walls of the lift... or the buttons... or...

Carl_R
Carl_R

Another problem in those 100 story buildings is in the HVAC units. Those may spread any aerosolized virus particles throughout the building.

Zardoz
Zardoz

Offices have always been inoculation centers. People get sick all the time from that confinement. Maybe covid won't kill you now, but sooner or later you'll be old and weak enough that it will, assuming something worse doesn't come along in the meantime.

The office has been a relic of another era, albeit one clung to tenaciously, like the fax machine, by people that simply can't adapt. Until recently, those of us that CAN adapt have been humoring the ones that can't. We've burnt gas and time, worn out our cars, and risked our lives and property on the freeway to get to a place we don't need to be.

The office is over. Nobody wants to play virus roulette because a bunch of lackwits feels needy or can't work their computers well enough to communicate.

numike
numike

‘Flying Blind Into a Credit Storm’: Widespread Deferrals Mean Banks Can’t Tell Who’s Creditworthy
Bankers are tightening lending standards and looking for new data that can help them figure out who’s risky and who’s not
(sorry wsj paywall)

Realist
Realist

I am having difficulty understanding why Asian cities, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, or any Chinese city can control the virus so well while the US is struggling so badly. Their population densities are significantly higher than the US and getting on a lift is done many times a day as the number of skyscrapers is huge in those cities.

Dodge Demon
Dodge Demon

Hi Mish. Looks like Denninger agrees with you. Long screed on how Trump has cooked his own goose over the past 3 1/2 years. Election night will be over when Florida is called for D candidate, whomever that may be.

What investment guidance do you have for strong probability of D sweep of President, Senate and Congress?

My base case is Gov and Fed going into an even higher gear to print. Do you agree?

Specifically what about -
Gold?
Silver?
Long Nasdaq?
Long anything alternative energy?
Long anything medical / pharma?
Long anything defense related?
Long whole stock market?
Short / puts on oil companies?
Shorts / puts in anything?
Paid for real estate?
Highly levered real estate with 30 year fixed rate?
Move away from large urban areas to a Doomstead?

I met you in person twice over beers at the resource conference in Rolling Meadows around 2008-2009. You asked this question around the table at the time. I used to post frequently on your site under a different handle in the js-kit days. I remember many good trader commenters in those days, like Gaudia Ray / Best Dog, Silver Bartender and Black Swan.

Please let me know, as I believe the time to act for the long term is running out like an hourglass.

Thank you.

All the best!

njbr
njbr

First-replace the floor and ceiling of the elevator cab with open-grate material.

Strong vertical air-flow while the cab is in motion.

Second, increase HVAC flow, with less recycle air.

Third, install and regularly replace filters in the system.

Six000mileyear
Six000mileyear

The commercial aerospace business unit of my company sees no improvement in air travel since some restrictions were lifted. Business is expected to be severely down for the next 2 years, so the CEO announced layoffs will be coming. 90% of former air travelers are taking no chances.

Jojo
Jojo

Someone needs to invent covidvision glasses so you can see the virus. Easier to avoid then!

RonJ
RonJ

"It's Not Just Deaths that Matter"

The destruction of the economy and people's lively hood, matters.

RonJ
RonJ

"Reopening is quite a bit harder than anyone thought."

Herd immunity was suppressed by shutting much of the economy down.

Back in the day there was a Fram oil filter commercial that had a tag line of "you can pay me now or pay me later." Later is now.

Stuki
Stuki

Focusing all and every effort on ensuring than America's dumbest, idlest and least useful; can extract maximum amount of rent for for as little, as as trashy an poorly constructed, space as humanly possible; will always result in space suboptimized for absolutely everything.

Robbing competent people to enrich idle nothings, will always result in low quality, low competence, low achievement, low overall wealth, low everything.

The only thing which will be high, is the share of wealth controlled, hence invariably wasted, by rank idiots too incompetent to do anything at all, aside from sitting there like chicklets screeching for Massa Fed and The Gommiment to ban someone else and bail out me and save my "liquidity" and sue someone, and who knows what.

The solution to too tight space, and too poorly ventilated space; in elevators and elsewhere, is more space. 10x current. Then, if that's not enough 100x. Residential, commercial, what have you. Just keep adding. Knock down old junk and build better stuff. Bigger stuff. Taller stuff. More stuff. Again, like most else, for even half competent people, things aren't that hard. It only looks hard, once the underlying goal is not improvement, but rather to ensure useless leeches can sit there idle, while extracting unearned rent as if their old junk somehow have any value anymore.

Realist
Realist

The CDC has now basically said that CV19 is essentially out of control in the US. It is breaking out in so many people now, in so many areas, that testing and tracing are useless to prevent the spread. At this point it is simply testing to identify those who are infected, to then isolate or hospitalize them.

Instead of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, or exiting the tunnel, like so many other countries, the US is not even half way through the Covid tunnel.

This demonstrates a monumental failure of Trump. He has already declared “mission accomplished “ and moved on to other things.

The CDC says that the virus will not be stopped in the US now, until an effective vaccine is found.

I estimate that by November, the US will have over 5 million cases and 200,000 deaths. And Trump will claim the same two things over and over; he will give himself a 10 out of 10 for how he handled it, and anything bad was the fault of someone else.

Worst president ever.

Scooot
Scooot

Maybe start putting in some escalators, at least you can stand a couple of meters apart. Not sure how feasible it’d be for a 100 floors though.

Fl0yd
Fl0yd

@Mish said: "There is too much emphasis on deaths and not enough on hospital costs, threats of lawsuits, and simple logistics like how do we safely get people to the 50th floor?"

If they should be in the 50th floor, then they should be able to work remotely from home.

Lawsuits: If one attends a bar, as customer or employee, they should bear the liability to contracting COVID19. Isn't it?

Hospital bills: Why is that the US medical costs are insanely higher than everywhere else?

All these issues are related to societal issues.

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

Nation of cowards, worry-worts and liars!

MATHGAME
MATHGAME

What nation U B in BA?


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