The economy and life may be reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic

American business practices long have shown the scars of national trauma: Devastating fires spawned major factory regulations. World War II hastened the entrance of women into the workforce. Analysts say the novel coronavirus pandemic could push broad societal shifts, with industry-wide disruption and a new normal for economic change.

The pandemic has been a relentless destroyer of brick-and-mortar businesses as public health officials warn against in-person interactions. But the coronavirus is boosting almost anything that can be done online or with minimal human contact — grocery deliveries, online learning, takeout food, streaming video, even real estate closings done with online notaries.
The result, economists say, is likely to be dramatic losses in local retail and dining options, with millions of jobs disappearing as the biggest and wealthiest companies — especially those that do much of their business online — extend their gains. Telework, online education and streaming video have grown sharply, while movie theaters, schools and traditional workplaces close their doors. Some will never reopen in a world where the shift from real to virtual suddenly has gone into overdrive.


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