Salesforce reportedly scrapped plans for additional office space in San Francisco following its decision that most employees will only come into the office a few days per week

Salesforce tower
  • Salesforce is said to be canceling a lease for new office space in San Francisco.
  • Salesforce had inked a deal in 2018 for 325,000 square feet in a new building near Salesforce Tower.
  • The company said last month that most employees will work in the office one to three days a week.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Salesforce has reportedly dropped plans to lease 325,000 square feet of office space in San Francisco.

The cloud computing giant, which is headquartered in the tallest tower in San Francisco and is the city’s largest employer, had previously signed a deal in 2018 for additional office space in the new Transbay Tower development, an unbuilt tower about a block away.

The company planned to house 1,500 workers at the new tower, a portion of the 10,000 employees it has spread throughout its urban campus.

But according to the San Francisco Business Times’ Laura Waxmann and San Francisco Chronicle’s Roland Li, the lease is “is no longer in hand.”

A spokesperson for Salesforce did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read more: Salesforce’s AI ethics chief shares 3 ways to use tech when planning a safe return to the office

The decision follows Salesforce’s announcement last month that it would adopt three new ways of working going forward. The new guidelines, which Salesforce is calling “Work From Anywhere,” offer employees options for how they’ll work in the future: flex, fully remote, and office-based.

Salesforce said most of its employees worldwide would have a flex schedule, which means they’ll report to the office between one and three days each week for tasks that are more challenging to do over video calls, such as team collaboration, customer meetings, and presentations.

The company has shared few details about what this will mean for its physical office spaces – in a blog post announcing the change, Brent Hyder, the president and chief people office of Salesforce, shared only that the offices would be redesigned as “community hubs” with collaboration and breakout spaces instead of rows of desks.

Salesforce’s decision follows two other major San Francisco-based tech companies scaling back their physical office space. In August, Pinterest scrapped plans to build a massive, 490,000-square-foot-office in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, paying a $89.5 million fee to cancel the project. And in September, Twitter said it would sublease more than 100,000 square feet of space at its San Francisco headquarters after telling employees they could work from home forever.

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With a federal wealth tax looking unlikely, states like New York could enact their own

FILE PHOTO: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks to the media during a press conference In the Queens borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks to the media.

  • New York’s Democratic lawmakers may be able to push through a state wealth tax, Bloomberg reports.
  • Debate over a federal wealth tax continues, but some areas are taking matters into their own hands.
  • Places like Arizona and San Francisco have already enacted their own taxes.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

New York legislators may be able to push through taxes on the ultrawealthy amidst the turmoil surrounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Bloomberg reports

Cuomo previously outlined a worst-case scenario where New York’s wealthiest would see the country’s highest income rate taxes if the White House didn’t step in to help with the budget deficit. During the pandemic, Cuomo has said he wanted to make sure New York’s tax base was preserved, and wealth taxes would not help in that regard.

Now, according to Bloomberg, New York’s Democratic lawmakers are considering a package that would “go further,” given that the governor is embroiled in a sexual-harassment scandal and a federal investigation into his handling of nursing homes during the pandemic.

Progressives in New York have been champing at the bit to increase taxes on the wealthy. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio previously called for a progressive tax and a tax on billionaires in his final State of the City address. And New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has previously called to raise the top marginal rate on those earning over $10 million.

“New York City will fight for new progressive income taxes that establish brackets with increased tax rates for high earners and the ultra-wealthy,” de Blasio said in a release on the address. “And with more billionaires than any other city in America, New York City will push for a billionaires’ tax. The billions of dollars raised from these progressive taxes will go into investing in New York City’s schools, working families, and a recovery for all of us.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in mid-February that some Democratic lawmakers in New York were coalescing around what’s called a mark-to-market tax on billionaires. Those billionaires would pay capital gains taxes annually on appreciating assets, not just at their sales.

As talk of a federal wealth tax grows, some places have already enacted them

Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently renewed her calls for a wealth tax, introducing the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act with several other progressives. Under Warren’s plan, households with a net worth between $50 million and $1 billion would see a 2% tax, and households with a net worth over $1 billion would see a 3% tax.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that a wealth tax poses “difficult” implementation problems, and it’s not favored by President Joe Biden. But some places in the US have already taken matters into their own hands.

San Francisco voters passed a tax in November on business owners and top executives who earn at least 100 times more than one of their average workers. Those CEOs earning 100 times more than their average worker would be taxed an additional 0.1% on business tax payments. The surcharge also increases to 0.1% of however much more they earn. 

And Arizona passed an additional income tax on its high-earners; all of the money raised will go to public and charter schools. The creators of that proposition estimated that it could bring in $940 million annually.

In Washington state, lawmakers are considering a net-worth tax that could generate up to $4.9 billion in revenue. One millionaire, Dan Price, is out advocating for it. “I’ve been demanding to Washington State to tax me more,” he told Insider’s Hayley Cuccinello.

So, while there may not ultimately be a federal wealth tax, a patchwork of state and city taxes on the wealthy could arise to take its place.

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Survey finds that the reported exodus of tech companies from San Francisco’s Bay Area is ‘greatly exaggerated’

San Francisco

A new survey throws cold water on a popular pandemic storyline about a mass exodus from Silicon Valley. 

Telstra Ventures tracked venture capital investment in major and emerging tech hubs across America, and published the results Thursday. The firm found nearly all startups remained in the San Francisco Bay area. 

While much has been made of the reported exodus of technology firms from San Francisco to new hubs like Austin, Telstra found that the phenomenon is not as common as many think. While Elon Musk has of course relocated to Texas, “96.9% of startups stayed in the Bay Area during 2020.”

Of the startups that moved, 12% relocated to Texas, 21% moved to New York, and 21% to other areas of California.

Notably, Austin, Texas was not the city with the most significant growth in startups: Denver, Colorado did, at 21% growth.

Despite the financial stressors of the pandemic, the survey found that venture capital investment in 2020 was up over 2019 by 4%. And, Telstra added “Dallas and Fort Worth that had VCs’ attention, with a 66% boost in the number of VC investments made in 2020.”

Insider reported in January that some companies moving from Austin has spurred changes in the Texas capital, and that the real estate market was “reeling from the new transplants.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Texas isn’t the only state lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Here’s how 11 other states and cities are easing lockdowns, despite the CDC insisting that ‘now is not the time.’

greg abbot coronavirus vaccine texas
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • Texas on Tuesday became the largest US state to ease its lockdown restrictions.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that would end all COVID-19 restrictions, including a mask mandate, on March 10.
  • Mississippi, Louisiana, and Michigan also made announcements to ease restrictions.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Texas on Tuesday became the largest state in the US to lift its mask mandate.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order set to end all COVID-19 restrictions on March 10. He tweeted that “Texas is OPEN 100%,” and said “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Monday of a potential resurgence of coronavirus infections in the US, despite a dip in numbers of new cases nationally.

“At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, said. “Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

Texas isn’t the only place in the US easing restrictions. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Michigan, as well as Chicago and San Francisco, all made announcements to ease restrictions on Tuesday, though the details varied.

Montana, Iowa, North Dakota, and Mississippi have already waived mask-wearing restrictions, and Michigan has eased other lockdown restrictions. Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina have not enforced state-wide mask mandates throughout the pandemic.

In Florida and South Dakota, schools and businesses have been widely open for months.

More than 35 US states have kept their mask-wearing rules in place, albeit with variable enforcement.

Here is how some other states, as well as some cities, are easing their restrictions.

Chicago

Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at a University of Chicago initiative event for the science in Chicago, Illinois, on July 23, 2020.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Chicago announced Tuesday that hospitality, sports, and performance venues could increase to 50% capacity, up from 40%. The maximum number of people is 50, or 20 people for indoor fitness classes. Curfews were also extended. The changes were effective as of Tuesday.

San Francisco

Mayor London Breed of San Francisco said Tuesday that indoor dining, indoor fitness, museums, and movie theaters would be allowed to reopen Wednesday at limited capacity.

Louisiana

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said on Tuesday that starting Wednesday, businesses could operate at 75% capacity, except in indoor event halls, which were limited to 50% capacity at a maximum of 250 people.

Live music could also resume indoors. He said that the state’s mask mandate would continue, and the new rules would remain in place for at least 28 days, until March 31.

Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan announced easing of restrictions on Tuesday, set to take effect on Friday.

Restaurants would be able to operate at 50% capacity – increased from 25% – and retail, entertainment, and sports facilities could open at increased capacity, she said. People can also visit a nursing home after a negative COVID-19 test.

Michigan has a state-wide mask-mandate, and Whitmer said mask-wearing, social distancing, and washing hands was “more important than ever.”

Mississippi

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

Mississippi rescinded a state-wide mask order in September, but Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi said Tuesday that county-specific mandates would be lifted too. He also said that the only COVID-19 restrictions that would remain were a 50% cap on the number of people in indoor arenas, and that certain restrictions would remain in schools.

North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina eased restrictions starting February 26, lifting a curfew and allowing indoor venues to operate at limited capacity. There is still a mask mandate.

Arkansas

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on February 26 lifted capacity limits for bars, restaurants, gyms, and large venues. He said that the state’s mask mandate would remain in place until March, provided the number of cases and hospitalizations were low.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said February 25 that restaurants could open at full capacity – albeit with social distancing and table size and time restrictions – starting Monday.

Other venues could open at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people allowed inside. A state-wide mask mandate is still in place.

Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee lifted restrictions for five counties in the state on February 14, and allowed restaurants to open up at 25% capacity.

Montana

Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana terminated the state’s mask mandate February 12.

Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa lifted restrictions February 5. Iowans no longer have to wear face coverings in public. Businesses can have as many people as they want inside and don’t have to abide social-distance guidelines.

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3 ways the US economy is uniquely positioned for a great new era in the 2020s

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America is ready for a new era that won’t be like times past.

Vaccines are rolling out and picking up speed. There’s finally a light at the end of America’s long coronavirus tunnel as massive advances in public health provide reason to be optimistic about 2021.

But the world that reopens won’t be the same one that shut down nearly a year ago, and the good news could go beyond a return to “normalcy:” the American economy of the 2020s could be the best in decades, with real optimism about enough jobs being created to put 10 million-plus Americans back to work. 

The pandemic has already transformed the personal and professional worlds in ways that will have long-lasting repercussions.

First, the Biden administration wants to “go big” on a $1.9 trillion stimulus that could supercharge the economy when the world comes out of lockdown (without overheating it), following more than $3 trillion of stimulus spending in 2020. Second, regulatory actions announced at the end of the Trump era have the potential to reshape the tech sector that dominated the first two decades of the 21st century and still dominates the stock market.

And finally, the world of work was changed to a largely remote one, with ripple effects for both worker productivity and across the housing market. With office workers doing their jobs from home, the era of the “superstar city,” where New York and San Francisco hoovered up the best jobs and talent, may have ended in 2020. 

President Joe Biden promised in mid-February that big stimulus spending would bring the economy “roaring back” but all of these changes may add up to more than just a new “roaring twenties,” but a whole new economic era.

Because of prior stimulus, American consumers are sitting on approximately $1.6 trillion of pent-up spending after 11 months of solitary leisure activities, according to Commerce Dept. figures released on Friday.

In other words, the boom is coming. And based on the three drivers outlined below, the ensuing recovery could usher in a wholly unique era of American economic prosperity.

(1) Wall Street sees stimulus sparking a boom

As momentum gathered for Democratic passage of Biden’s stimulus in February, Wall Street banks began to upgrade their projections for economic growth, factoring in expectations of a successful vaccine rollout.

A team of JPMorgan strategists led by John Normand wrote on February 12 that the economic expansion over the next year “will be much stronger than average” on account of pent-up demand, augmented incomes through stimulus, and support from the Federal Reserve including quantitative easing. US strategists at the bank believe the consumer’s recovery will be the dominant theme for 2021 with “blowout expectations for the rest of the year.”

Baby Boomer
Experts are predicting a return to “normalcy” and a surge in economic growth by the end of 2021.

Bank of America strategists led by Candace Browning Platt wrote that the service sector is “like a coiled spring waiting to be let loose,” with a reopened economy not just meeting demand repressed by the pandemic but also boosting employment since some services sectors account for an outsized share of jobs. 

BofA’s Michelle Meyer agreed, writing that it was time to “fasten your seatbelts” as evidence pours in to support the view of strong economic growth in 2021 – in fact, “the strongest in nearly four decades.” Rather than a coiled spring, she wrote of a “rubber-band” cycle, with a big decline leading to just as fast a snapback. 

The recovery should avoid the sluggishness of the post-2008 decade, according to Meyer, because of healthy household savings and aggressive stimulus, two interrelated factors. Finally, BofA’s Ethan Harris wrote that while the 2010-2019 recovery was the slowest in history, the 2021 recovery may be among the fastest.

The Commerce Dept. data from January show consumer finances are strong, as the $900 billion stimulus passed in December boosted spending by 2.4% and personal household income by 10% – the second highest on record

(2) A tech breakup could create (a lot) more jobs

The FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) stocks drove 40% of the stock market rebound in July 2020, per BofA Research, but what if they get broken up in the 2020s?

As the Trump administration drew to a close in 2020, the Dept. of Justice and Federal Trade Commission launched respective actions against Google and Facebook. The case against Facebook, in particular, seeks a true break-up including the forced separation of Instagram and WhatsApp. These cases wouldn’t reach the trial stage until well into the new decade, but they have the potential to transform the economy.

Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU and well-known tech industry pundit, told Insider that Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram could be worth more if they were forced to break up into three separate companies – and this could translate into more jobs for workers, more opportunities for entrepreneurs, and more value for investors. 

As independent companies, Instagram and WhatsApp could engage in aggressive hiring that they previously couldn’t do under Facebook, he said. What’s more, with Facebook and other monopolies weakened, investors would be more willing to allocate more funds to more companies that challenge these big tech players.

facebook apps
A tech breakup could be coming this decade.

“Consider that two years after the federal government broke up Rockefeller’s Standard Oil into 34 separate firms, their combined value had doubled,” Galloway added. “The companies spun out of the breakup of AT&T in 1983 outperformed the S&P 500 for the next decade. We’ll see the same thing in big tech.”

A 2018 report by anti-monopoly think tank Open Markets Institute, called “America’s Concentration Crisis,” revealed just how many industries have come to be dominated by certain power players in recent years. Three companies hold 85% of social networking site market share – Facebook comprises 70% of that share alone. It’s a similar story for the search engine industry, where the two largest firms own 97% of the market share, with Alphabet leading the way at 91%.

Matt Stoller, director of American Economic Liberties Project and author of “Goliath,” a 100-year history of antitrust policy, also said that a tech break-up would benefit the economy.

“Facebook is suppressing the growth of new and vital sectors of the economy by refusing to allow anyone else to create innovations within the social networking space,” he told Insider. “It’s similar to IBM, which blocked the creation of a software industry until the antitrust case of the late 1960s forced the company to unbundle its hardware from its software.”

(3) The work-from-home revolution could bolster new cities

Around the 1990s, the “superstar effect” became a feature of the American economy. The concept explains the vast difference in earnings between a star and a superstar in the same field. Think: Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, and New York City.

But there’s another word for the dynamic when a superstar gobbles up most of the gains: monopoly. Stoller has argued for years that a shift in antitrust regulation since the 1970s has allowed for the rise of more monopolies across the economy, resulting in less competition and greater inequality. Starting in the 1970s, Stoller wrote for Vice in 2019, regional inequality widened as a result of airlines cutting routes to the rural, small, and medium-sized cities they no longer needed to serve in a more concentrated economy.

new york city
New York City has been a “superstar city” in recent decades, gobbling up a big share of the job market.

New York City, the country’s media and finance hub, had 10.1 million employees in its metropolitan area in November 2019, and Los Angeles, center of the entertainment industry, had 6.2 million employees. San Francisco, the heart of tech, has 2.5 million employees, although that doesn’t account for the millions more in the Bay Area’s other cities: Oakland and San Jose. These three superstar cities house more jobs than some entire states have alone: Consider Alabama’s 2 million employees in the same time period.

Such job concentration leads to a higher cost of living. The median home value in the US is $266,104, but that jumps to $512,941 in the NYC metro area and $1.3 million in San Francisco.

But when it comes to cities, the pandemic may have snapped that thread, freeing up remote work for white-collar employees on a massive scale. So what happens when the workers that were locked for decades into superstar cities – especially San Francisco and New York – are free to fan out around the country? The answer could well be a new era of more broadly shared prosperity and a correction to decades of increasing regional inequality.

The labor and real-estate markets both still have underlying inequities. Service workers still have to physically report to their jobs while remote workers don’t, and some of those who have fled expensive addresses have endured salary cuts. Meanwhile, the housing market got so expensive in 2020 that it’s discouraged many from the dream of homeownership for good.

Richard Florida, urban studies theorist and economics professor at the University of Toronto, told Insider that remote working will accelerate the movement of families out of superstar cities into suburbs and the 1% who are seeking lower taxes. Anywhere from 14 million to 23 million remote workers plan to move, mostly from big cities, an Upwork study found in October

austin texas
Californians have been trading in San Francisco for Austin, Texas.

“I have long said that we will see the rise of the rest, given the incredible expensiveness and affordability of existing superstar cities,” he said. “But it’s not going to be the rise of everywhere. It’s going to be the rise of a dozen or two dozen places.” These places will consequently attract new talent, changing economic development. 

Florida doesn’t see bigger cities going away, though, predicting a resurgence as we inch closer to widespread vaccination, even if remote work is likely here to stay. He did predict that post-pandemic cities will be reshaped and revived by a newfound focus on interpersonal interaction that facilitates creativity and spontaneity.

“Even as offices decline, the community or the neighborhood or the city itself will take on more of the functions of an office,” he said. “People will gravitate to places where they can meet and interact with others outside of the home and outside of the office.”

Insider’s Josh Barro has already argued that 2021 should be great for the economy in general. Indeed, markets hit record highs at the turn of the year, seemingly pricing in a vaccine-led recovery. Just a few months later, it’s beginning to look like the biggest boomtime for the US economy in a generation. Some experts have even floated the idea of a new “Roaring ’20s,” with animal spirits unleashed after roughly 18 months of isolation, as pent-up capitalist energy explodes when lockdown finally lifts.

Instead of flappers and a jazz revolution, we’ll have digital nomads and zoom concerts, but one thing is certain: increased competition among cities and technology companies, if done right, has the potential to improve life for all Americans over the next decade. 

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San Francisco’s school renaming debacle is a timely mix of confused priorities and bad ‘facts’

Lincoln High school San Francisco
A pedestrian walks by a sign outside of Abraham Lincoln High School on December 17, 2020 in San Francisco, California.

  • San Francisco’s school board used inaccurate history to rename schools that haven’t even been open in a year.
  • Paul Revere was deemed irredeemably problematic based on a misreading of a History.com post.
  • Meanwhile, there’s still no date to reopen schools. 
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

San Francisco’s public schools were among the first in the US to shut down at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in February 2020. 

They’re still closed. And the outrage over the endless foot-dragging on re-opening is well-deserved, especially considering what the city’s school board has spent precious time on rather than laser-focusing on reopening.

Children – especially those in low-income households – continue to suffer mental anguish, the loss of irreplaceable months of youth and social discovery, and a permanent stunting of their education as long as in-person schooling remains unavailable.

And yet for some reason, San Francisco’s Board of Education recently devoted a disproportionate amount of time and energy on an effort to review every single public school in the district with the goal of swiftly renaming any building bearing the name of a person who contributed to the abuse or subjugation of women, minorities, queer people, and the environment.

There’s still no set date to reopen San Francisco’s schools. 

Misplaced priorities and moving goalposts 

In an extraordinary move, City attorney Dennis Herrera filed suit against the San Francisco Unified School District earlier this month, with the support of liberal Mayor London Breed, in an attempt to re-open schools. 

But the same excuses offered by the school board and teachers unions for why schools can’t reopen remain unchanged:

“Teachers’ lives would be at grave risk” is a common argument – even though the CDC has repeatedly stated that schools are among the lowest-risk public places for spreading COVID.

“Schools need revamped ventilation systems” is another – even though the CDC has recommended reopening schools with basic social distancing and ventilation measures (like a fan and an open window) as soon as possible.  

“Teachers need to be vaccinated” is yet another – even though teachers are among the prioritized professions for vaccination in California already

And while California is slowly ramping up its vaccine roll out, the school district and unions could use their resources to help teachers and school employees coordinate COVID vaccination appointments. Thus far, there has been no demonstrable urgency in taking such initiatives. 

But no one can argue the school board hasn’t treated the effort to rename schools with the utmost urgency. 

Originally conceived in 2018 in the wake of the Neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, the school re-naming project was kicked into high gear this past summer following the police killing of George Floyd and protests against racism and police brutality.

A schools renaming committee was convened and as can be seen in public video of its deliberations, adherence to historical facts was a secondary concern, and the scope of its own mission seemed to change on the whims of a few of its members. 

Committee members were expected to come to the meeting having already conducted their research, and yet during the meeting members are seen Google-searching for impeachable evidence of reputation-destroying racism or contributions to colonialism. 

And even with such flimsy source material, members sometimes misread the information before them, as demonstrated when a committee member said Paul Revere participated in a conquest of Native American land.

Not only did that not happen, it isn’t even asserted in the History.com “10 Things You May Not Know About Paul Revere” post cited as evidence to justify removing Revere’s name.

Other names deemed worthy of removal included Abraham Lincoln, because despite signing the Emancipation Proclamation his policies were “detrimental” to Native Americans, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein for her support of an urban renewal project that displaced members of a Filipino community while she served as the city’s mayor. 

One committee member noted that former Mayor George Moscone also supported neighborhood-disrupting urban renewal projects, but the school named for the martyred Moscone (who in 1978 was assassinated along with the legendary gay rights activist and city supervisor Harvey Milk) was spared by the committee. 

The mythical city of “El Dorado” – in which a king sprinkled subjects in gold dust – was deemed removable because the Gold Rush led to the death of Native Americans and, as one committee member put it, “I don’t think the concept of greed and lust for gold is a concept we want our children to be given.” 

Another committee member pushed back, arguing that not only is El Dorado not real, it’s not a person, and therefore out of the scope of the group’s stated guidelines. His point of view was rejected out of hand. 

There were several more egregious mistakes, but the San Francisco school board voted 6 to 1 to accept the committee’s recommendations and to begin the process of swiftly renaming 44 schools – including those named for Revere, Lincoln, and Feinstein.

The response was tough but fair. 

A historical embarrassment

An exasperated Mayor Breed said the school board should “bring the same urgency and focus on getting our kids back in the classroom” and only when that’s accomplished should we “have that longer conversation about the future of school names.”

The liberal-leaning San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board lamented that the board “largely quit the education business and rebranded themselves as amateur historians.”

And in an interview with The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, school board president Gabriela Lopez appeared to defend the committee’s decision to not consult historians who could have easily helped the committee avoid its embarrassing mistakes. Lopez said she didn’t want “get into a process where we then discredit the work that this group has done.”

Following widespread outcry over both the historical misstatements and misprioritization of the issue  – particularly from liberals and Democrats who felt the whole thing made them look like “parodies of ourselves” – the school board this week halted the school renaming process until after schools are reopened

Historians, previously deemed inessential to the process of re-examining historical figures, will be invited into future discussions. 

There is still no anticipated date for San Francisco public schools to reopen, despite private schools and public schools in neighboring counties being opened for months. 

We need schools, and we need facts

It’s tempting to view the San Francisco school renaming debacle through a one-way culture war lens: with woke lefties beclowning themselves and a liberal city’s government unable to provide a basic public function. But that’s reductive. 

If the San Francisco community believes school renaming should be a priority for the district, the board should by all means push forward on those efforts. But it’s tragically comical to focus on renaming schools that have been closed for a year and for the foreseeable future. 

It is a story of misplaced priorities, but it is also indicative of a greater societal problem – which is the conscious choice by many to adopt a Manichean point of view that defines everyone as simply good or simply evil, with facts deemed secondary nuisances.

That’s why the San Francisco debacle matters. Because for citizens of this country to be able to share a reality-based existence, partisans on both sides need to accept that facts matter, political narratives be damned.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Read urbanism expert Richard Florida’s response on how big cities will thrive during the new era of remote work

new york city
Are big cities dead? Urban studies theorist Richard Florida doesn’t think so.

  • Urban studies theorist Richard Florida spoke to Insider about remote work and its impact on big cities and the economy.
  • He said things will likely look as they did pre-pandemic, with a few key changes.
  • This is his response, edited for length and clarity, as told to correspondent Hillary Hoffower.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Remote work is probably the biggest single effect of the pandemic. It has been building for some time, but it has really been accelerated.

According to the best statistics, we had about 5% of the workforce working full-time remotely before the pandemic and about 20% more likely to work full-time remotely after the pandemic, with about another 20% or 30% likely to work remotely some of the time.

So, it’s a big shift.

But I don’t think remote work by itself is affecting our geography in an extreme way. It is simply accelerating shifts that have been going on for a while. And, of course, the preponderance of jobs amenable to remote work are highly knowledge-intensive. Professional jobs are massively concentrated in big cities in metropolitan areas. So that is why the effect is felt most there.

I think what remote work does is to enable people who might’ve moved to outlying suburbs before to consider moving to entirely new metropolitan areas. So instead of moving to the suburbs of New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, remote workers have the possibility of moving to more affordable places like parts of Texas or parts of Florida.

There are several kinds of remote workers.

The ones that are going to leave big, expensive cities are mainly families. But families have always left big, expensive cities. It just cost a lot of money to have a house in a big, expensive city.

Also, urban schools in the United States are troubled and have been for a while and so people with kids move to the suburbs. My own parents moved from Newark, New Jersey, to an outlying suburb in northern New Jersey way back in the ’60s. This has been going on for more than a half-century.

Young, single people are the ones who move to cities. They’re very important because they’re ambitious and have newly minted skills. This is especially important for engineering talent to have the latest and greatest skills.

They are not going to live in isolated suburbs, they’re not even going to live in small cities. And they’re certainly not going to live in mom and dad’s basement for a while. These people have and will continue to gravitate to big superstar cities.

According to recent research, about half of the urban revival and migration of people into or close to urban neighborhoods has been the result of young people ages 24 to 35. 

The silver lining for places like New York and San Francisco is that the pandemic is making real estate more affordable to this group of people.

I’ve written a bunch of college recommendations this year, and every one of them was for universities in New York City.

These people may work remotely and still live in a big city. I think that’s likely. I think what we’ll see are lots of young people working remotely and living in big cities. Mainly because this is where most of the remote work jobs or jobs that are doable as remote work are located.

So, I think remote work will lead to acceleration of families out of cities to places outside of superstar metro areas, and an acceleration of young people into cities.

The third category of remote workers is the 1%. Those are the folks moving to take advantage of taxes. They can move to Texas or Florida, they can move to Austin or Miami, reduce their own tax burden, and leave their companies and investments still centered in the cities.

That’s one that causes a lot of financial pain for superstar cities.

The other big impact of remote work will be on the central business district.

If the numbers above are correct by definition, we will see reduced demand for offices and office space. I think the central business districts will take a hit.

I think remaking the central business district of major cities is going to be one of the biggest and most interesting urban opportunities of our time.

Folks will know longer want to go into a cubicle farm. I’ve been talking to office designers and architects. The office is going to have to be re-designed, or something that’s an experience. Going to the office will be akin to a business trip. We will schedule some meetings and lunch and drink coffee with colleagues. But it won’t be just plugging into a cubicle farm. 

If you look at the migration of remote workers, they are not panning out through the entire economy, are they? They are concentrating in a handful or a couple of handfuls of places.

I have long said that we will see the rise of the rest given the incredible expensiveness and affordability of existing superstar cities. But it’s not going to be the rise of everywhere.

It’s going to be the rise of a dozen or two dozen places.  Oftentimes, I like to say if you want to look at a short list take a look at the final list for Amazon HQ2 and that’s a pretty good approximation.

It’s Miami, and Denver, and of course Austin, and Nashville and Pittsburgh and Columbus and Indianapolis. And maybe Detroit. And maybe Phoenix. And then you start running out of places pretty quickly.

There are some lovely rural places mainly outside of superstar cities – parts of California or Colorado outside of Denver, or the Hudson Valley outside of New York City – that are clearly attracting people. But it’s a very finite group of places.

I’ve been working with two communities very closely that are at the cutting edge of talent attraction and remote work. Tulsa, Oklahoma, has made a really big push in this area with Tulsa Remote. They have real first-mover advantage, and it’s been incredibly successful. They are attracting lots of people, and getting thousands upon thousands of applications, and people really appear to love it there.

Bentonville, Arkansas, has made an attempt to attract talent more broadly and to build up a real cluster of talent in innovation and that seems to be working as well. But, again, these are two examples.

Being really strategic and intentional and focusing on remote work and attracting talent will be essential. More communities need to be strategic. This will not just happen.

One of the great ironies of the pandemic is that it fundamentally changes the game of economic development from chasing companies to attracting talent.

Companies are shrinking their footprint, they are reducing their office space, there’s not much to attract there. So the pandemic changes the name of the game to attracting talent. And remote work opens up the possibility to attracting talent to more places.

But not everywhere.

Unfortunately, as remote work opens up the possibility for more places  – small cities, mid-sized cities, suburbs, and rural areas – to participate in the talent economy, there will still be more losers than winners at every scale. That is because talent concentrates and clusters, and needs to be around other talent.

I think we’ll see a resurgence of even bigger cities as we get to the vaccine because of this. Remote workers cannot sit inside in a back office or converted bedroom all day. Human beings are social animals. We require connection, we require human interaction. Remote workers who are by definition working outside of the office will require more of this.

So even as offices decline, the community or the neighborhood or the city itself will take on more of the functions of an office.

People will gravitate to places where they can meet and interact with others outside of the home and outside of the office.

The big question of our time, which we are just beginning to engage, is what is the ecosystem that is required for remote work?

That ecosystem is a community, not just a technology equipped home-office. The places that can build that ecosystem or where that ecosystem arises organically will be the big winners in the age of remote work.

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Dropbox falls as charge on real estate in shift to remote leads to wider quarterly net loss

Drew Houston Dropbox
Dropbox CEO Drew Houston

  • Dropbox fell as much as 5% on Friday after turning in a fourth-quarter net loss of $346 million. 
  • The company took a quarterly charge on real-estate assets following its shift to remote work during the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • Dropbox’s adjusted earnings of $0.28 per share beat expectations of $0.24 per share. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Dropbox stock fell as much as 5% Friday, with the cloud-storage provider turning in a fourth-quarter net loss as a shift to remote work led to a charge related to real estate.

The company’s net loss was $345.8 million, wider than its loss of $6.6 million a year ago and a swing from profit of $32.7 million in the third quarter.

Shares of Dropbox fell as much as nearly 5% to $23.31. It’s added on nearly 10% during the year and 8.5% over the last 12 months.

Dropbox recorded a non-recurring impairment charge of $398.2 million in the fourth quarter for “right-of-use and other lease related assets.”

The charge stems from its reassessment of real estate assets, which will include subleasing some of its space. In October, the San Francisco-based company said employees working remotely “will be the primary experience” and “the day-to-day default for individual work” under its “Virtual First” program. 

Dropbox acknowledged the “abrupt shift” to remote work in 2020 during which numerous companies transitioned to work outside of offices because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impairment charge was not part of its adjusted earnings, which came in at $0.28 per share compared with $0.16 a year earlier. Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of $0.24 per share.

Revenue climbed to $504.1 million from $446 million a year earlier, surpassing Wall Street’s target of $498 million.

 

 

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The 10 best Airbnbs in San Francisco – starting as low as $83 per night

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Modern Suite in The Castro san francisco airbnb

  • San Francisco is a beautiful and culturally diverse city, but it’s also notoriously pricey.
  • Airbnbs provide a safer option for travelers compared with hotels, and are often a better value.
  • We found highly-rated San Francisco Airbnbs at accessible price points, ranging from $83 to $304.

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful and culturally diverse cities in the US, with its distinctive skyline, expansive parks, lively arts and food scene, and world-famous sights like the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s also famously expensive, awash in tech money in recent decades.

While real estate for sale here comes with eye-popping price tags, those prices can be much more accessible for short-term listings for visitors choosing private vacation home rentals. Beyond the affordability factor, travelers are also turning to Airbnbs for coronavirus safety; experts agree private rentals pose a lower risk than hotels in the pandemic, given the limited number of face-to-face encounters with other travelers. Plus, Airbnb’s Enhanced Cleaning Initiative overhauled host cleaning protocols for guests’ safety and reassurance, so they remain a popular choice among travelers.

Like San Francisco itself, the homes for rent in this market are eclectic and diverse. Some units are in historic Victorian buildings the city is famous for (hello “Full House” credits sequence). Others offer iconic views over the city’s hills, green spaces, and urban views. Keep in mind most are small by the standards of other American cities known for their sprawl; after all, San Francisco is just seven square miles.

If San Francisco is just one stop on a tour of the West Coast, be sure to check out our guide to the best Airbnbs in California, too. 

Additionally, while the vaccines are rolling out at last, and there is reason for travel optimism, remember that the virus remains uncontrolled around the US and there are risks associated with any travel. We recommend following CDC, WHO, and other reputable organizations’ safety guidelines. Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and practice good hand hygiene, wherever you go.

We compiled a list of the best San Francisco Airbnbs, based on the following criteria:

  1. All listings are for private units in keeping with current expert recommendations for distancing; several of these spaces are attached to homes, but all are entirely separate spaces with private entrances at a minimum.
  2. Every listing is highly rated, with a minimum rating of 4.92 out of a possible 5 or higher; some are included in Airbnb’s elevated Plus category and all are listed with Superhosts.
  3. We looked for standout stays with exceptional features, such as iconic city views, historic architecture, and prime locations.
  4. We included listings at a range of price points to suit different budgets. Choices range from starting price points of $83 to $304 per night.
  5. Listings include affordable options within the city for solo travelers, couples, and families from the same household, as well as larger and more amenity-rich options.

Here are the best Airbnbs in San Francisco.

Private rooftop studio in the Marina, $83

Marina District Private Rooftop Studio san francisco airbnb

Book this private rooftop studio starting from $83 per night

The Marina is known as a posh, safe, and tranquil residential neighborhood. This private studio apartment in the neighborhood is ideal for a solo traveler or couple to explore the city. It’s located in the Chestnut Street area, with tons of restaurants, shops, wine bars, and markets right at your fingertips. The 30 Stockton bus is a half-block away for easy access to downtown and sightseeing around the city.

The place itself is small, but the kitchen is well stocked, and reviewers praise the comfortable, high-quality bed and pillows for an excellent sleep. Windows bathe the space in light, and open wide to create a cross-breeze from the bay. There is a grill outdoors as well as a private rooftop with gorgeous views of the water.

Rating: 5.0

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts. It also gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness rating.

Chic guest suite in the Sunset district, $125

Bright Sunset Getaway san francisco airbnb

Book this private guest suite starting from $125 per night

This listing is for a private guest suite in the Sunset district of San Francisco, which is just a quick 15-minute walk to the beach and restaurants, and just minutes away from public transit. Beyond that, this listing comes with a rare and valuable SF perk: parking included. Smartlock keypads make self-check-in easy and contact-free.

The recently renovated private unit is decorated in soothing blues and creams and has its own living room, bedroom, and full bathroom. There’s room for three guests, though there’s just one main bedroom with a Queen bed. The living room has a small kitchen area for preparing basic meals, as well as a dining area with a round, glass table, and two fold-out sofas. The smart TV has Netflix and Hulu, and gigabit Wi-Fi is provided throughout the home.

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts. It gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness rating.

Spacious downtown retreat, $129

San francisco Downtown Retreat airbnb

Book this downtown retreat starting from $129 per night

This modern apartment in downtown San Francisco is ideal for a remote-working sojourn or as a jumping-off point to explore California at leisure. It’s available for 30-day minimum stays so best for those seeking long-term Airbnb stays. The airy 840-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment affords access to a professional security desk available around the clock, a private fitness center, and wireless high-speed DSL.

The well-stocked kitchen has all new appliances and there’s a grocery store down the street. But for those who prefer dining out, tons of restaurant options are nearby. Sleek, pared-down decor is done in brown and black with red accents, like armchairs and lamps that pop. The space has expansive bay windows, and the unit faces a landscaped garden courtyard with seating areas. A private outdoor pool is a serious added-value perk.

Rating: 4.95

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts. It gets a near-perfect 4.9 cleanliness rating.

Garden apartment in Noe Valley, $130

One Bedroom garden Apartment san francisco airbnb

Book this renovated garden apartment starting from $130 per night

This listing is for a separate garden apartment with a private entrance from the main house, a few steps down. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the lush garden and deck outside.

Newly renovated, the one-bedroom, one-bath unit has a chic tiled fireplace matching the backsplash tiling in the well-equipped kitchen and the spacious walk-in shower. There’s a washer and dryer, large TV, Apple TV, and Netflix. The spot is 20 minutes from downtown and just a short walk from 24th Street in the center of Noe Valley. It’s closely accessible to public transportation, with a bus stop just a few steps away.

Rating: 5.0

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts. It gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness rating.

Castro suite with garden in Corona Heights, $140

Modern Suite in The Castro san francisco airbnb

Book this Castro suite with garden starting from $140 per night

This minimalist suite is small but stunning. The private unit with its own entrance is located at an interior designer’s home within the central and safe Corona Heights neighborhood, 15 minutes from the heart of the Castro district. A rarity for the city, you can reasonably expect to find easy, on-street parking here.

The space is the size of a large hotel room with a living room and access to the spacious private garden with heated outdoor furniture. There’s a kitchenette with the basics as well as a Nespresso coffee machine. The queen-size bed has Casper mattress. Amenities include eco-friendly bath products from Public Goods.

Rating: 4.95

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts. It gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness rating.

Modern apartment in a Victorian building, $150

Victorian_apartment airbnb in san francisco

Book this modern apartment in a Victorian building starting from $150 per night

This design-minded apartment in a Victorian Building near Haight-Ashbury offers quintessential San Francisco flair, with views over a historic neighborhood. It sleeps five in two bedrooms with one bath.

Lounge in Barcelona chairs taking in the light from the bay window, or switch on a gas fire and relax against the city’s frequent chill. This Airbnb Plus listing has a gourmet gas stove, plush neutral-toned bed linens, and laundry for guests.

Rating: 4.94

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Contemporary city apartment with parking near Civic Center, $150

Civic_Center_apartment san francisco airbnb

Book this contemporary apartment starting from $150 per night

This studio apartment in Airbnb’s Plus category is ultra-sleek and hip thanks to its black-and-white palette that feels almost hotel-like. Bright, light wood flooring and cabinets contrast against a dark platform bed, black setee, and black-and-white framed art hanging gallery-style.

Mirrors make the space feel larger, and a small dining table or work desk sits under bright windows that offer Civic Center views, including of the stately beaux-arts City Hall rotunda. The building is quiet and secure, and the parking garage is gated and protected.

Rating: 5.0

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Contemporary apartment in Potrero Hill, $202

Potrero_Hill_apartment airbnb san francisco

Book this Potrero Hill apartment starting from $202 per night

San Francisco can be notoriously gray, but Potrero Hill is one of its sunniest neighborhoods, and this hilltop apartment affords beautiful city views. With room for two guests with one bedroom and one bath, this updated in-law apartment listed in Airbnb’s elevated Plus category spans 900 square feet. It is located within a home built in 1910, but is entirely private with a separate entrance. (The hosts are a family living in the unit above.)

The kitchen feels luxe with elevated stainless steel appliances and sleek white cabinetry. The bathroom feels downright spa-like with a rain shower and the home’s overall soothing color palette is accented with fun pops of color from the bright yellow front door to turquoise chairs on the small deck. 

Rating: 4.98

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Spacious modern apartment in Richmond District, $298

large remodeled apartment san francisco airbnb

Book this spacious apartment starting from $298 per night

This remodeled 1,400-square-foot apartment is especially large by the standards of a small, vertical city. There’s room here for six guests in three bedrooms and 1.5 baths. Come for work, with high-speed internet and dedicated workspaces in every room. Or come for dining, with acclaimed restaurants all around. For sightseeing, get around easily on foot, or you can reserve the listing’s garage if you’re coming with a car.

Soaring nine-foot ceilings throughout and large double-pane windows make for an airy and tranquil stay. Turquoise accents and a tile fireplace in the sitting area add cozy charm. The 55-inch smart TV with surround sound offers a range of streaming services, and there’s an Amazon Echo and connected thermostat. There’s also a washer and dryer on site.

Rating: 4.97

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts. It gets a near-perfect 4.9 cleanliness rating.

Modern flat with patio, $304

chic apartment san francisco airbnb

Book this modern flat with patio including breakfast starting from $304 per night

This newly renovated flat has room for seven guests with three bedrooms and two brand new baths, making it ideal for bigger families or pods of friends traveling together. The host lives in the penthouse above, but the space is entirely private and locked off.

The host is not only a text away, but even provides a light breakfast for free. The space has an airy and modern feel with rounded doorways, wood floors, and simple gray and black decor. A major perk here is the furnished patio for taking in that crisp bay air by day or night.

Additionally, there’s everything you need for meal prep stocked in the kitchen, lots of extra linens, and even a thoughtfully provided first-aid kit. 

Rating: 5.0

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts. It gets a perfect 5.0 cleanliness rating.

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California is now the 4th state to report cases of the more infectious coronavirus variant found in South Africa

San francisco vaccine line
Alameda County workers line up to receive coronavirus vaccines outside St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, California on January 8, 2021.

  • California is the latest state to report cases of the more transmissible coronavirus variant found in South Africa
  • The variant, first identified in in October, has been found in at least four US states.
  • The variant seems to partially evade immunity gained in response to vaccines or infection with the original virus.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Once South African scientists detected a more infectious coronavirus variant in early October, scientists knew it was only a matter of time before the strain reached the US.

At the end of January, the US reported its first two cases of the new variant, called B.1.351, in South Carolina. 

California became the latest state to report its own B.1.351 cases on Wednesday. At a press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Stanford University had detected two cases in the San Francisco Bay Area: one in Alameda County and another Santa Clara County. He did not provide further details.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also identified six cases of B.1.351 in Maryland and one in Virginia.

The variant isn’t spreading as widely as B.1.1.7, another more infectious strain first identified in the UK in September. The CDC has reported more than 930 cases of B.1.1.7 across 34 states so far.

Coronavirus vaccines still appear to be highly effective against B.1.1.7, but scientists are more concerned about B.1.351 because preliminary research found it can partially evade the protection offered by current vaccines.

Moderna, for instance, exposed blood samples from people who’d received the company’s vaccine to B.1.351. They found those samples developed six times fewer virus-neutralizing antibodies than samples exposed to other variants. The company is now exploring the possibility of a booster shot that’s tailor-made to neutralize B.1.351.

Scientists also worry that people who already had COVID-19 could get reinfected with this more transmissible strain.

A race to keep B.1.351 from spreading

COVID-19, South Africa
Health worker Vuyiseka Mathambo takes a nasal swab from a patient to test for COVID-19 at a Masiphumelele community center in Cape Town, South Africa on July 23, 2020.

The US genetically sequences just 0.01% of its coronavirus cases – around three out of every 1,000 cases. That puts the country 33rd in the world for genetic sequencing, according to the latest data from GISAID, a global database that collects coronavirus genomes.

This sequencing deficit means new variants can easily spread undetected in the population. In all likelihood, B.1.351 entered the US long before South Carolina reported its first cases. Neither of those people had recently traveled, nor was there any personal connection between them.

Even people who previously got COVID-19 could be susceptible, evidence suggests. A recent study of Novavax’s vaccine candidate found that B.1.351 cases were just as common among people who’d previously recovered from infections with other strains as those who had not. 

“If it becomes dominant, the experience of our colleagues in South Africa indicates that even if you’ve been infected with the original virus, that there is a very high rate of re-infection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN last week.

That possibility, combined with B.1.351’s increased transmissibility, could lead to another rise in coronavirus cases, scientists warn. The variant doesn’t appear to be deadlier than the original strain, though.

“When you have more contagious variants circulating and people now feeling free to do things that they weren’t able to do for a while, we do risk having another surge happen in the near future,” Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, recently told Insider. “So we need to be watching it carefully.”

For now, scientists hope that vaccinations and other public-health measures will be enough to keep B.1.351 from becoming the dominant strain in the US. More genetic sequencing, they add, could prevent future variants from spreading.

“We’ve got to find ways to get in front of this as opposed to constantly chasing behind it without good surveillance,” Rimoin said. Otherwise, she added, “we’re destined to make the same mistakes.”

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