By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The coronavirus has forced us to make extreme changes to our day-to-day life. But some changes could stick around well after the stay-at-home orders are lifted.

Already, researchers are seeing positive impacts made on the environment.

The Bay Area has seen some of the lowest consistent pollution levels ever recorded, according to San Jose State. Air quality data is collected on-site at the university.

“Long-term, if we could keep the air quality like we are today, if we could do that for months and for years, we’d be living a different world,” said Eugene Cordero, Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science at SJSU. “We would have lower rates of asthma, people would be living more healthy lives.”

Cordero says with less congestion, we’re putting far fewer climate pollutants into the atmosphere.

Even when restrictions ease, working from home may become a bigger part of regular schedules, particularly for the Silicon Nalley and white-collar workforce.

“I think a lot of businesses are discovering that there are a host of meetings they used to hold in-person, that can actually become an e-mail instead, or can become a very efficient zoom call,” Russell Hancock, President and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley. “And you don’t need to make overseas travel, you don’t need to make intercontinental travel.”

Hancock predicts big tech companies won’t need as much real estate as they once thought.

He also teaches economics and public policy at Stanford University. He’s been doing so via Zoom, and is prepared to continue this way through the fall.

Retail may never go back to normal businesses practices. Department stores were already slowly failing pre-pandemic. Neiman Marcus is expected to declare bankruptcy in the coming days.

“People are going to get real comfortable with the shop at home option and actually it makes more things available, because all of the world’s inventory can be at your fingertips and on your computer screen,” said Hancock.

Masks may also become a part of normal life, just as they have been in Asia.

“Americans used to laugh at that and say ‘oh, they’re all hypochondriacs.’ I think we’re not going to be that way in this country any longer, I bet you’ll see masks in public, restaurants,” he added.

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