January 31, 2022

Covering COVID-19 is a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas about the coronavirus and other timely topics for journalists, written by senior faculty Al Tompkins. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

Apartment rents across America have risen a breathtaking 12% in just one year. That increase is enough to wipe out any modest raise most people may have gotten in their paychecks.

The thing about rent is that once it goes up, it rarely comes down, especially with apartment occupancy rates also hitting peaks. Zumper, a rental marketplace website, reports:

Rent has opened 2022 in much the way it spent 2021—setting a new all-time high. The median one-bedroom rent on Zumper’s National Index rose to $1,374 (or roughly 0.000112 of a Bored Ape) this month, which is 12 percent higher year-over-year. The median two-bedroom rose to $1,698, a 14.1 percent year-over-year rise.

For context, the year-over-year growth in January 2021 was 0.6 percent, and in January 2020 it was 0.3 percent.


Let’s compare today’s rising rates with recent years to set a baseline understanding of how housing costs have risen:

(Apartment List)

Here is a sampling of rental rates in 40 cities:

(Apartment List)

Now, let’s look at the month-to-month and year-to-year trends in the top 20 cities ranked by the cost of apartment rent:


In 2020, some cities saw a modest drop in apartment rental costs because so many people who lost their jobs moved in with others, and the apartment vacancy rate rose to twice what it is today.

The old rule of thumb about how much you should spend on rent goes out the window when prices rise so quickly. That was the 30% rule, which suggests spending a maximum of around 30% of your gross income on rent. A Harvard study from long before this rental spike found 45% of households who make $30,000 to $45,000 spend more than 30% of their income on rent. The rule was a calculation that is rooted in 1969 public housing regulations and may have no application in today’s economy.

Truckers protest vaccine mandate at Canadian border

Truckers rolled big rigs through Ottawa in protest over the weekend. The protest may not soon end.

Starting Jan. 15, Canada started requiring truckers to show proof of vaccination when entering Canada. The U.S. imposed a similar mandate on Jan. 22. Keep in mind that Canada is one of the U.S.’s biggest trading partners, more or less tied with Mexico and ahead of China.

New Ipsos polling shows the majority of Canadians support mandatory vaccines for everyone who is eligible. 88% of eligible Canadians are vaccinated.

After the snow, the injuries begin

Bradley Winn, of Cohasset, Mass., carries a snow shovel past a snowbank on a sidewalk, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Scituate, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The American Journal of Emergency Medicine has a warning for those of you shoveling your way out of this weekend’s snow.

  • In a 17-year study period, an average of averaging 11,500 individuals a year are injured shoveling snow.
  • The average annual rate of snow shovel–related injuries and medical emergencies was 4.15 per 100 000 population.
  • Approximately two thirds (67.5%) of these incidents occurred among males.
  • Children younger than 18 years comprised 15.3% of the cases, whereas older adults (55 years and older) accounted for 21.8%.
  • The most common diagnosis was soft tissue injury (54.7%).
  • Injuries to the lower back accounted for 34.3% of the cases.
  • The most common mechanism of injury/nature of medical emergency was acute musculoskeletal exertion (53.9%) followed by slips and falls (20.0%) and being struck by a snow shovel (15.0%).
  • Cardiac-related ED visits accounted for 6.7% of the cases, including all of the 1647 deaths in the study.
  • Patients required hospitalization in 5.8% of the cases. Most snow shovel–related incidents (95.6%) occurred in and around the home.

You may be shoveling wrong. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons advises you to push the snow instead of lifting it. If you do have to lift the snow with your shovel, don’t twist your body to toss the snow over your shoulder. That stresses your back muscles.

Since I live in Florida and have not shoveled snow in maybe four decades, let’s turn to WickedLocal for more advice.

Why we hoard before storms

Before reading this little item on Mashed, I had not considered what the items we hoard before a storm say about us and our expectations. If you snap up milk and bread, for example, it probably means you think it will pass fairly quickly. But if you buy up canned goods, you may be thinking about hunkering down for a lot longer than bread and milk would last.

Pittsburgh Magazine put forward a theory that hoarding milk and bread may be rooted in decades-old shortages that happened after storms before cities immediately plowed streets and before we had markets around seemingly every corner.

Over the weekend, I heard one person being interviewed about her fear of losing electricity and having her food spoil in her fridge. Many years ago, while reporting on an ice storm, I said something about people fearing losing refrigeration. A guy called the TV station complaining that any idiot knows if you lose refrigeration in an ice storm, you can just set your food in a cooler outside.

Beware falling iguanas

A stunned iguana lies on the sidewalk after having fallen from a tree Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010 in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

You have your troubles, we have ours. This was an actual Florida weather advisory.

(WSVN Miami)

New CPR guidelines during the pandemic

The new guidelines just out from the American Heart Association say that before you perform CPR to get a person’s heart restarted, you should put on personal protective equipment, including respirators, gowns, gloves and eye protection.

Of course, that might be easier in a hospital setting, where PPEs might be nearby, but it hardly seems practical outside of the medical setting. If you are in a home setting or someplace where you can grab a PPE gown, gloves and respirator, the American Red Cross has some advice:

  • We recommend placing a face mask or face covering over the mouth and nose of the victim. If only 1 mask is available and it is simple face mask or face covering, we recommend placing it on the victim.
  • While CPR with breaths has been shown to be beneficial when compared to compression-only CPR, during the COVID-19 outbreak, it is currently recommended that no rescue breaths be performed for adult cardiac arrest patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, due to the risk of disease transmission.
  • When assessing for normal breathing, we recommended that the CPR/first aid care provider looks for breathing but does not listen or feel for the victim’s breathing, as this will minimize potential exposure.
  • We recommend that adult victims of sudden cardiac arrest receive continuous compression-only CPR from their CPR/first aid care provider until emergency personnel arrive. Note: Compression-only CPR saves lives compared to no CPR.
  • Cardiac arrests that occur after a breathing problem (which is often the case in infants and young children), drowning and drug overdoses may benefit from standard CPR that includes compressions and rescue breaths. Note: It is recognized that in some of the cases, the victim may also have COVID-19. However, if a lay responder is unable or unwilling to provide rescue breathing with CPR, compression-only CPR should be initiated.

Here is a really useful video showing how to perform CPR while trying to minimize exposure to COVID-19. This is worth sharing with the public or producing your own version.

Unintended consequences: Maus is No. 2 and No. 3 on Amazon’s bestseller list

A week ago, a Tennessee school board banned Maus — a Pulitzer Prize-winning series about the Holocaust. 42 years after the book’s publication, the books are No. 2 and No. 3 on the Amazon bestseller list, which, I am thinking, is not what the school board intended.

(Amazon best-seller list Sunday 1/30/22)

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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