Coronavirus masks set the tone in fashion, politics and industry

Josh Peter, USA TODAYJune 3, 2020.

They are being sold by Kim Kardashian West, Gucci and plenty of others looking to make a buck. 

They have led to lawsuits, violent assaults and police intervention.

They could help determine whether President Donald Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden emerges as the victor on Election Day.

“Masks are becoming a new dividing line,” said Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history and the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities at Rice University. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, face masks worn to protect people from the transmission of COVID-19 have been transformed. There is the clear-mouthed mask, which allows the deaf to read lips; the straw-holed mask, which allows the thirsty to stay hydrated; and the “trikini,” which allows bikini wearers to coordinate tops and bottoms with a matching mouth covering.

A sign of the maskmaking madness: A recorded phone message for customer service at Singer, manufacturer of sewing machines, warns of hold times exceeding an hour because of “an extreme increase in call volume due to COVID-19 and a need for sewing materials.” 

Colorful, creative and ubiquitous, face masks are leaving an imprint on politics, culture and industry – and business is booming.

Cashing in on masks

The global face mask market in 2020 is valued at $4.5 billion and is likely to grow exponentially, according to figures released in March by Market Research Report. The big players include 3M, Honeywell International and Owens & Minor – three U.S. companies awarded $133 million in Pentagon contracts in April to produce 39 million N95 masks for medical workers fighting the coronavirus crisis.

Q2Today, a Utah-based company that makes air-filtering masks, reported that sales increased by more than 400% from February to March.

“These numbers would have been much higher, but we sold out of what would typically be months of inventory in only a five-day period in March,” said Bruce Lorange, founder and CEO of O2Today. ”So for most of the month, we were out of stock.”

Etsy, the e-commerce website, followed that up with reports that it sold about $133 million in face masks on its site in April.

Kardashian West, who launched her own line of masks priced at $8 apiece May 18, announced on Twitter that the collection sold out within hours.

Then there’s the “Criss-cross Gucci Gray” face mask that has sold for $200. 

Hillary Taymour, a fashion designer who said she has made about $10,000 by selling $100 face masks and has raised almost three times as much for charity, said other clothing companies rake in far more than she has.

“There are brands that I think are treating face masks like warfare almost,” said Taymour, founder of the clothing line Collina Strada. “Like someone who’s hustling guns and stuff during a war. It’s definitely that level.”

For weeks, vendors have been selling masks on the streets, at some risk. Preston Liddell was fined $450 for illegal vending in Dallas on May 8 because he was selling masks on private property. Lidell, who charges $5 for five masks, provided USA TODAY an image of the citation.

“I make masks and sell them in communities where people don’t have access to them,” Liddell said in an email. “I’ve been getting chased out by several cities including Irving, Dallas and Mesquite. The police are great with me, but once a local business complains, they have to ask me to leave.

“I wanted to make people aware of this injustice amid this huge crisis. People should have access to be able to buy local-made masks in this emergency situation. Especially when the permit process is slow and in some cities, they’re not even issuing them.”

Clashing opinions on masks

Face masks, available in a vast array of colors, patterns and designs, present an opportunity for political expression. Some masks bear slogans such as “Don’t Drink The Bleach,” “Hoax,” or “If You’re Not Mad, You’re Not Paying Attention.” 

“Any accessory that we wear reveals something about our taste and our tribe,” said Johanna Blakley, managing director of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California. “A watch, a hat or a handbag can speak volumes. The public health directive to wear masks gives us a golden opportunity to advertise something about ourselves on our most valuable personal real estate – our face!”

There are those who refuse to wear masks, even if it prevents them from at shopping at certain stores or puts them at risk of public shaming. Six weeks ago, Dave Kelman of Las Vegas created a Facebook group called “Bare Face Is Legal.” It has about 9,000 members.

Kelman and others railed again Thursday when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order allowing businesses throughout the state the right to deny entry to customers not wearing a face mask.

“What got me started is I saw cities wanting to start ordinances” requiring people to wear masks, said Kelman, founder of Barefoot Is Legal, a group that fights for the right to go shoeless. “I started monitoring that, and when New York state was the first one to try to force masks on people, I said, ’Let me start this group just in case.’ “

Members of the group include Kellie Johnson, owner of Beka Boutique in Lincoln, Nebraska, who asks customers to remove masks long enough for their faces to be seen. She said she is the victim of sexual assault and her attacker wore a mask.

The group reached out to attorney Thomas Anderson, who represents the plaintiffs in seven lawsuits filed against Giant Eagle supermarkets in Pennsylvania claiming the supermarket chain’s policy requiring masks violates the Americans With Disabilities Act.

A more pervasive rallying cry is that requiring masks amounts to an infringement on civil liberties and freedom.

“It’s been fascinating to see the anxieties about masks that have surfaced,” Blakley said in an email. “They’ve been cast as un-American, as unmanly (I wonder if someone has referred to being eMASKulated yet!). They imply illness and fear of infection.”

Two weeks ago, Kelman launched a website ( that includes videos of the following: 

•Philadelphia police removing a man from a city bus because he was not wearing a mask.

•New York police grappling with a woman in front of her child after the woman reacted angrily when she was told she could not ride the subway because her mask did not cover her face.

•An off-duty police officer working security at a Walmart in Birmingham, Alabama, body-slamming a woman  who refused to wear a mask.

What Kelman’s website does not include is video of a TV reporter harassed outside Shady’s Tavern in Albany, Minnesota, because he was wearing a mask. 

“Take it off,” chanted a handful of people demanding the bar be allowed to legally reopen.

“There’s no question that masks have been politicized,” said Blakley, who cited a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that found Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they wear a mask when leaving home, 76% vs. 59%. “We typically look to leaders to model appropriate social behavior and so it’s not surprising that a majority of Republicans are emulating the actions of their political leaders.”

Brinkley, a presidential historian for CNN, suggested face masks could help decide who will be the leader of the free world at the end of Trump’s first term.

The politics of masks

Trump has made clear his disdain for face masks, especially if members of the media are around. Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee, has made clear his intention to wear one.

The two tangled over the issue. Biden called Trump “an absolute fool’’ a day after Trump mocked Biden for wearing a face mask on Memorial Day. They continue to tangle on a related issue.

Biden pushes for mail-in voting, saying it would reduce the risk of voters getting infected with COVID-19. Trump rejected the idea, arguing that mail-in voting is susceptible to fraud.

“The Democrats need (mail-in voting) because you can’t have people wearing a mask, social distancing 6 feet in 20-degree weather in Detroit and Milwaukee voting,” Brinkley said. “And so Trump is saying the mask isn’t that big a deal and you’ll have to line up and vote like everybody else.

“Trump has rural America. You don’t wait in lines in rural America. You go to the local school or firehouse and spend about 10 minutes and you’ve voted. But in urban centers, in the winter, particularly the all-important Great Lakes region, the idea that you’re going to wait four hours in the cold wearing a mask and social distance when there are rumors of a COVID second wave going, it’s going to leave a lot of urban voters staying at home.

“So it’s playing out right now in a lot of different ways – the mask.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus masks: defining the age

Homemade Disinfectant Spray

If you want your home to sparkle, then finding an effective disinfectant is essential. Unfortunately, many store-bought cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that you may not want to bring into your home. Thankfully, there are antibacterial, natural ingredients that can protect your home and personal items from collecting harmful microbes.

Using these natural ingredients, you can make a homemade disinfectant spray that is not only cheap but is free of toxic chemicals. Making your own homemade natural cleaners is not only better for the environment, but it gives you more control over the results.

It’s easy to adjust these disinfecting spray recipes to suit your cleaning routine to ensure your walls, floors, door knobs, and other belongings get cleaned well. Knowing what ingredients work best on which surfaces, helps you determine the best homemade disinfectant spray recipes for specific uses in your home.

Homemade Disinfectant Spray and DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe for Coronavirus COVID-19

With a global coronavirus pandemic now in place, it is vital to ensure personal safety against the spread of COVID-19. We must protect ourselves and keep others from becoming contaminated as well.


NEVER swallow, drink, inhale,
inject or put any disinfectant into your body.
It will kill you!

Contrary to what any politician has said or you may have heard

There is a significant difference between cleaning a surface and disinfecting it . Cleaning removes germs and decreases the likelihood of infection. Disinfecting kills germs via chemical means after a surface has been cleaned. Completing both steps is necessary to prevent the spread of disease.

The CDC and Rudgers recommend three basic disinfectants for use against COVID-19.

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Alcohol
  • Bleach

Each has specific guidelines for personal protection and sanitization purposes.

Hydrogen Peroxide

A 3% concentration of hydrogen peroxide can be used alone or diluted to 0.5% for decontaminating.

Hydrogen Peroxide Coronavirus Disinfectant Spray

  • 1/4 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 cup of water
  • Spray bottle

Mix the ingredients in a sprayer. Spritz hands or surfaces and let the solution sit for at least one minute before wiping away.


Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

  • 2/3 cup isopropyl alcohol (70%-99%)
  • 1/3 cup of aloe vera gel
  • Well sealed dispenser

Mix alcohol and aloe vera gel to make your own hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer needs to “sit on your skin” for at least 30 seconds to completely disinfect. According to the CDC (1), a mixture that includes at least 60% alcohol successfully kills coronavirus pathogens.

Alcohol Concentration:

  • The CDC recommends using a 70% isopropyl alcohol or 60% ethanol.
  • The FDA recommends using at least a 75% isopropyl alcohol to be used in hand sanitizers.
  • Rutgers University recommends using at least a solution of 70% alcohol.

You can also combine alcohol and water for sanitizing hard surfaces, but it can be rough on the skin and is not recommended for that purpose.

Make sure you keep any alcohol-based disinfectant in a well-sealed container so it does not evaporate between uses.


Bleach Based Disinfectant

  • 1/3 cup of bleach
  • 1 gallon of cold water
  • Bucket or other container

Wear gloves to apply the solution to countertops, doorknobs, remotes, tables, etc. Use the liquid within 24 hours, as time weakens the disinfectant. Decontaminate for at least 30 seconds but exposure for ten minutes is best. Household bleach is ideal for sterilizing most surfaces.

Be careful as most materials will be damaged or destroyed if exposed to bleach.

As bleach can harm your skin,do not use it to sanitize your hands!

Never mix ammonia or other cleaning product or cleanser with bleach!


Here at we advocate natural home remedies that include ingredients like vinegar, witch hazel, and tea tree oil for disinfecting. However, these solutions are not effective against COVID-19.

Use the all-natural solutions and recipes we have outlined in the rest of this article below for general cleaning around the home or office only.

Easy-to-Make Disinfectant Spray Tips & Recipes

1. Homemade Disinfectant Spray

This simple, natural disinfectant is a perfect multi-purpose spray that you can use on almost all surfaces and makes a great glass cleaner. Avoid using this cleaner on marble and granite, as the acid in the vinegar may leave marks.

Homemade Disinfectant Spray Recipe

  • 1 ¼ Cup Water
  • ¼ Cup White Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup Vodka
  • 15 Drops Peppermint or Lemon Essential Oil

Pour the amazing peppermint oil and all ingredients in a glass spray bottle and shake to ensure they’re combined. Spray on any surface and let it sit for about 10 minutes to allow the disinfectant properties to do their work. Wipe the spray clean using a microfiber cloth.

2. Natural Floor Cleaning Disinfectant

  1. You can use this all-purpose disinfectant floor cleaner on hardwood, laminate, vinyl, linoleum, and tile floors. You may want to use sparingly on marble and granite.

Floor Cleaning Disinfectant Recipe

  • 2 Cups Warm Water
  • ½ Cup White Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup Rubbing Alcohol
  • 3 Drops Dish Soap
  • 5-10 Drops Essential Oil of choice, such as Tea Tree Oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Once mixed, pour the natural disinfectant into a plastic spray bottle. Shake well before use, and spray on any floor that requires cleaning. Wipe up the solution with a mop. Note: do not use Castile soap or any other oil-based soap.

3. DIY Disinfectant Spray

This disinfectant spray recipe is perfect for deep-cleaning as it contains Borax. You can find Borax, or sodium borate, at grocery or hardware stores.

Some people worry about the safety of Borax, as the FDA banned it as a food additive. While it’s not suitable for ingesting, it is safe to use for cleaning. This recipe also makes an effective DIY toilet cleaner.

DIY Disinfectant Spray Recipe

  • ¾ Cup Borax
  • 1 Cup White Vinegar
  • 10 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 5 Drops Lemon Essential Oil

Pour all the ingredients into a squirt bottle and shake to combine. Spray the disinfectant and let it sit for 10 minutes before wiping with a cloth. If you are using it as a toilet cleaner, let it sit for a few hours before using a toilet brush to scrub the interior and flush to rinse.

4. Homemade Disinfectant for Countertops

The kitchen can quickly turn into the messiest room in any house, and keeping the countertops free of germs and bacteria is vital if you want to stay healthy and avoid getting sick. This is one of our favorite DIY recipes because it only requires two ingredients: water and hydrogen peroxide.

Mix equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on your kitchen countertops as needed, and then wipe off with a sponge. You can also use this disinfectant on bathroom countertops, or any other hard surface that is susceptible to germs.

5. Natural Disinfectant for Granite

If you need to disinfect granite countertops or any other granite surface, you need to be more careful about the ingredients you use. Even when you are making cleaners, some of them may cause damage to specific surfaces if you’re not paying attention.

Too much acidity leaves etchings in surfaces like marble or granite, so you should avoid ingredients like vinegar, bleach, ammonia, or lemon juice. To clean your countertops, start by removing all items and swipe up dirt and crumbs.

Combine mild dish soap with warm water, either in your sink or in a bucket. Dip a microfiber cloth into the soapy mixture and wring out the excess before wiping down the countertops. Grab a dry facecloth and wipe the countertops once more.

6. DIY Natural Disinfectant Spray

This natural disinfectant spray uses the antifungal and antibacterial powers of essential oils like tea tree oil to kill germs and prevent bacteria from taking over. It is perfect for yoga mats, exercise equipment, and any other surface that attracts bacteria.

DIY Natural Disinfectant Spray Recipe

  • ¾ Cup of Water
  • ¼ Cup of Witch Hazel
  • 10 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 5 Drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Fill a spray bottle with the ingredients and tighten the lid. Shake well to ensure all elements combine. Spray on any surface that needs disinfecting and then wipe clean. Be sure to shake the solution before use, as the oil separates.

7. Homemade Disinfectant Wipes

Lysol disinfectant wipes are handy and convenient to have around the house, but the disposable cloths are not suitable for the environment. Additionally, the costs of these wipes can add up. Making reusable cleaning wipes is easy and affordable.

Homemade Disinfectant Wipes Recipe

  • 1 Cup Filtered Water
  • 1 Cup White Distilled Vinegar
  • ½ Cup Alcohol
  • 15 Drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • 8 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 4 Drops Bergamot Essential Oil
  • 1 Mason Jar
  • 15-20 Pieces of Pre-Cut Cloth or Small Washcloths

Combine all ingredients in a wide-mouth glass Mason jar or similar container. Replace lid and swirl to combine. Press pre-cut cloths or washcloths in the jar until all fabric is wet with disinfectant liquid. Replace cover and store in a dark space.

To use the disinfectant wipes, pull out a cloth when needed and squeeze out the excess liquid. Use on any glass, stainless steel, tile, linoleum, or porcelain surface. When finished, place the used cloth in the laundry.

These natural disinfecting spray recipes and cleaning tips will have your house looking cleaner than ever. The gentle, natural ingredients are perfect for worry-free cleaning without having to break the bank. With these recipes, your home will not only be free of harmful chemicals, but you’ll also be taking steps to be kinder to the environment.

We hope you enjoyed this article detailing the benefits of making your own homemade disinfectant sprays and cleaners. If you found these recipes helpful, then share these disinfectant tips with your friends on Facebook and Pinterest!

1 – Clean & Disinfect

2 CDC – HCP hand sanitizer


4 – ways to kill coronavirus at home


Author-  Joan Clark

Songs to wash your hands to when ‘Happy Birthday’ doesn’t cut it

With the outbreak of coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, now a pandemic, one of the simplest ways to keep yourself and others safe is by washing your hands.

The CDC recommends soaping up for at least 20 seconds — or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. But what if you can’t handle that particular earworm dozens of time a day?

Enter the good samaritans of Twitter, who have been finding alternative songs with 20 second choruses. A Twitter thread created by Twitter user Jen Monnier includes a plethora of songs — and other Twitter users chimed in to give their best option for a 20-second ditty as well.

You’re supposed to wash your hands for 20 sec, which is the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. But I’m tired of singing Happy Birthday and you probably are too, so I’ve done the very important public service of compiling other songs with roughly 20 sec choruses to sing:

— Jen Monnier (@JenMonnier) March 2, 2020

One Twitter user replied, “I use one verse of My Sharona, but sung as My Carona.” Too far?

Savannah Guthrie took a creative approach by making up a song for Vale called “The Corona Shuffle.”

And a new website Wash Your Lyrics even generates a hand-washing infographic for the song of your choice.

Dr. Ana Flavia Zuim, Director of Vocal Performance at NYU Steinhardt School, recommends jazzing up your hand-washing routine with a musical theater song, because why not put on a show if you’re going to be singing to yourself?

Dr. Zuim’s suggestions include “My Shot” from the hit musical Hamilton, or, for a more comedic take, “Hands Clean,” by Alanis Morisette. Isn’t it ironic?

Songs to sing while washing hands

•1. “Love On Top,” by Beyoncé

•2. “Truth Hurts,” by Lizzo

•3. “Jolene,” by Dolly Parton

•4. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” from the Wizard of Oz

•5. “The Sound of Music,” from The Sound of Music

•6. “My Shot,” from Hamilton

•7. “Hands Clean,” by Alanis Morisette

•8. “Karma Chameleon,” by Culture Club

•9. “Stayin’ Alive,” by The BeeGees (also a favorite song for performing CPR)

•10. “Toxic,” by Britney Spears

•11. “Livin’ On a Prayer,” by Bon Jovi

•12. “No Scrubs,” by TLC

•13. “Raspberry Beret,” by Prince

•14. “Landslide,” by Fleetwood Mac

•15. “Love Shack” by The B-52’s

People have even made coronavirus hand-washing playlists on spotify: Now there’s no excuse not to wash your hands. Clean lyrics optional.

Madeline Merinuk TODAY ●‎March‎ ‎11‎, ‎2020‎ ‎3‎:‎45‎ ‎PM

Mayo Clinic marks 20,000th transplant performed in Minnesota

February 20, 2020By; Heather Carlson Kehren

ROCHESTER, Minn. — A Mayo Clinic transplant team recently performed the 20,000th transplant at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. This major milestone comes as researchers study the potential for regenerative medicine approaches to dramatically transform how transplants are performed in the future. Regenerative medicine aims to shift the focus from treating disease to tapping the body’s ability to heal diseased cells, tissues and organs. Mayo Clinic’s transplant history began in 1963, when surgeons performed the clinic’s first living donor kidney transplant. That same year, transplant teams completed Mayo Clinic’s first bone marrow transplant.

Since those early days, Mayo Clinic’s transplant programs have expanded from kidney and bone marrow to face, hand, heart, liver, lung, pancreas and pediatric transplant programs. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Mayo Clinic’s William J. von Liebig Center for Transplantation and Clinical Regeneration in Rochester.

“Mayo Clinic would never have been able to achieve this incredible milestone had it not been for the heroic decisions of donors and their families to give these lifesaving gifts,” says J.P. Scott, M.D., the transplant center’s interim director. “We are grateful for the trust that transplant recipients and donors have placed in us, and proud of our caring transplant center staff who always put the needs of our patients first.”

Mayo Clinic in Rochester has performed 8,808 bone marrow transplants, 6,297 kidney transplants, 3,198 liver transplants, 714 heart transplants, 538 pancreas transplants, 441 lung transplants, three islet cell transplants and one face transplant.

Researchers are also studying how to use the latest technology and recent medical discoveries to transform how transplants will be performed in the future.

Dennis Wigle, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic thoracic surgeon and researcher, sees regenerative medicine as key to the future of transplant. New therapies could allow for damaged or diseased organs to be repaired so they could be used for transplant. These breakthroughs also could help make sure transplanted organs remain healthy, preventing rejection or the need for a second transplant. Dr. Wigle’s research is focused on the potential for using a person’s own stem cells to build an artificial or new lung.

“What was really science fiction four or five years ago has become a potential clinical reality,” Wigle says. “Obviously it’s a technology that is not going to be ready tomorrow or next week, or even next year, but there’s a lot of groups that have made a ton of advances, including ours, in trying to work toward that goal as a reality.”

Until that future day arrives, the need for organ and bone marrow donors remains critical.

Living donors can donate a kidney or a portion of their liver. Deceased donors can donate up to eight organs, corneas and other types of tissues. More than 112,000 people are on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. To register to become an organ donor, go to Donate Life America’s website. To be a bone marrow donor, join the Be The Match registry.

About Mayo Clinic- Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news and An Inside Look at Mayo Clinic for more information about Mayo.

Media contact: •Heather Carlson Kehren, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005,

Getting settled in Rochester, MN: Seven things to do

Are you new in town? Welcome to Rochester!

Let’s get acquainted. Rochester, Olmsted County’s seat and Minnesota’s third-largest city, sits aside Zumbro River’s south fork, and spread outs for about 54 square miles.

Here are seven things you need to do to get settled.

1. Update your address at the post office Rochester: 1445 Valleyhigh Drive NW, 55901 102 S. Broadway, Ste 100, 55904 1224 Eastgate Drive SE, 55904 Byron: 218 Byron Ave. N, 55920 Oronoco: 10 N. Minnesota Ave., 55960 Stewartville: 120 2nd St. SE, 55976 Kasson: 14 E. Veterans Memorial Hwy., 55944

2. Update your driver’s license and register to vote, Within 30 days of moving, visit the Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS). Olmsted County Government Office 151 SE 4th St., Rochester, MN 55904 507-328-7630 3.

3. Start utilities Electricity and water: Rochester Public Utilities 4000 E River Rd. NE, Rochester, MN 55906 507-280-1500 Electricity: People’s Energy Cooperative 1775 Lake Shady Ave. S, Oronoco, MN 55960 507-367-7000 Gas: Minnesota Energy Resources 1995 Rahncliff Ct #200, Eagan, MN 55122 800-889-9508

4. Set up waste/recycling pick-up Advanced Disposal 507-281-5850, Sunshine Sanitation 507-285-5550, Waste Management 877-480-4439,

5. Apply for a library card Rochester Public Library 101 2nd St. SE, Rochester, MN 55904 507-328-2300

6. Hook up internet, television, phone Charter Spectrum 855-757-7328, CenturyLink 507-765-9999, DirecTV 1-855-493-3473, DISH Network 1-855-548-2369,

7. Get familiar with our local publications Post-Bulletin You’re reading it right now. Rochester’s daily newspaper since 1925. Named Minnesota Newspaper Association’s 2018 Daily Newspaper of the Year. Call 507-285-7600,

Rochester Magazine The city’s award-winning, glossy monthly: Your city, your life, your magazine. Call 507-285-7770, or click here for subscription information

What’s Old Is New Again: Why Townhouses Are the Latest ‘It’ Homes

Recent waves of outside-the-box ideas in housing have brought us teeny-weeny homes, converted shipping containers, prefab modern palaces, and co-housing apartments with luxe perks for millennials.

But the latest “it” homes with builders and buyers have actually been around since the 19th century.

Townhouses, those classic rows of attached single-family homes that are a fixture in American cities and suburbs alike, got a second wind in the 1960s. That’s due to folks scooping up these existing, and often inexpensive, older abodes as they moved back into the big cities. And now the lovechild of a condominium and standalone house is back again and hotter than ever with both buyers and builders.

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• What Is a Townhouse? An Ideal Home for First-Time Buyers
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In fact, townhomes are now the fastest-growing segment of the single-family housing construction market, according to the National Association of Home Builders, a Washington, DC–based trade group.

Townhouse construction was up 17.8% from 2014 to 2015, according to the most recent data available from the NAHB. Meanwhile, construction on standalone homes rose only 10%, while co-op, condo, and apartment construction jumped 12.1% over the same period.

They made up about 12.4% of all new construction in the single-family home market last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The secret of their popularity lies with first-time buyers, who are typically younger and cash-strapped. Townhouses and row homes sold for a median $198,000 in September—about 12% less than detached single-family homes, according to the most recent data available from®.

About a quarter of current and wannabe homeowners plan to buy a townhouse this year, according to a® survey released in October. It was the most popular form of housing after single-family homes. That percentage was even higher for millennials, about a third of whom plan to close on one in 2017.

“Townhouses are indeed the affordable solution to expensive land in more and more urban areas,” says’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke. “For many people, it can be the most affordable way to buy a home and to get into a more desirable neighborhood.”

Many baby boomers also see the charms of a home that doesn’t require strenuous outdoor maintenance. (Residents of many townhome developments can pay their homeowners association to take care of those chores.)

Whether they’re in the city or the suburbs, townhomes are often located in trendier, more walkable areas with good schools and shopping nearby, Smoke says. They also often tend to be close to employment and transit centers.

Using a townhome as a ‘bridge’ to better things

With a 16-month-old daughter and a baby on the way, Julie and Zach Pastko figured they would need more space than what they had in their two-bedroom, two-bath Chicago condo.

So, like many a young family, they looked to the suburbs, settling on Palatine, IL, known for its excellent schools. But instead of plunking down all their cash on a traditional single-family home with a yard, they made a more modest purchase: a four-bedroom, 3.5-bath townhouse.

“We never had a dining room table before,” says Julie of their additional living space. “And we have two more bedrooms to furnish. We were so cramped [in the condo] that my daughter’s toys were all over the living room.”

Buyers like the Pastkos see townhomes as “a bridge” between a cramped apartment and a standalone house with a white picket fence and a yard, says the NAHB’s chief economist, Robert Dietz.

The Pastkos have plenty of room to breathe in their 2,200-square-foot townhouse, but it’s still not their ideal situation.

“We want to buy a [standalone] house eventually, in five to seven years,” says Julie, explaining that that purchase would be too much to handle financially right now. Julie, 33, works in sales for a health insurance company, and Zach, 35, is a consumer marketing consultant. The couple spent a little more than $400,000 on their townhouse, which isn’t that much for the Chicago suburbs.

Chicago-based Lexington Homes, which is building the Pastkos’ 24-unit townhouse community, has seen a big change in its clientele in just the past six months. Nearly all of Lexington Homes’ buyers are millennials, and most of them are either recently married or about to wed, says Lexington’s principal, Jeff Benach.

“We’ve seen a big shift since the recession,” he says. “Before, it was mostly empty nesters or divorcees with kids.”

Townhouses are a win-win for builders

For builders, townhouses are a win-win, says Dietz. They take up less space than standalone homes, enabling builders to construct more of them on smaller lots. This is a big deal in metro areas and older suburbs, where land is scarce and expensive. By keeping the land costs down, the builders are able to offer townhomes at a lower price than single-family homes.

“You tend to have really nice townhouse developments built in areas that are running out of land,” says’s Smoke. “They should be gaining in popularity as [more] people realize they’re more affordable alternatives to renting.”

By Lew Sichelman on Apr 5, 2017

This winter weather can be brutal. Stay warm, enter through your personal two-car garage and curl up to the fireplace at The Brittany’s!

Next week’s Arctic blast will be so cold, forecasters expect it to break 170 records across US.

This week’s cold snap is only an appetizer compared with the main Arctic blast that’s coming next week, meteorologists said. That freeze could be one for the record books. “The National Weather Service is forecasting 170 potential daily record cold high temperatures Monday to Wednesday,” tweeted Weather Channel meteorologist Jonathan Erdman. “A little taste of January in November.” The temperature nosedive will be a three-day process as a cold front charges across the central and eastern U.S. from Sunday into Tuesday. The front will plunge quickly through the northern Plains and upper Midwest Sunday, into the southern Plains and Ohio Valley Monday, then through most of the East Coast and Deep South by Tuesday, the Weather Channel said.

High temperatures on Monday may be stuck in the teens and 20s in the Midwest and around the Great Lakes. It could be the coldest Veterans Day on record in cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis, according to the Weather Channel. By Tuesday, record cold is possible in the Northeast, Ohio Valley and portions of the South. Highs may get only into the 30s as far south as Alabama. The Florida Panhandle may shiver with lows in the 30s Wednesday and Thursday morning. Low temperatures may fall below freezing all the way to the Gulf Coast. The most intense cold will be in the northern Plains where temperatures may fall below zero, according to AccuWeather. Gusty winds will make it feel even colder across the region, and time spent outside will need to be limited. In addition to the cold, a storm system may develop over the central USA, AccuWeather said, bringing icy conditions to the central Plains near the dividing line of warm and cold air next week. Snow may be in the forecast for portions of the eastern and even southern USA as the storm is likely to track in that direction into the middle of the week.

Verified account: @RyanMaue       More Arctic blast is courtesy of strong Canadian high pressure (1048 mb). By Monday, the brutal cold front reaches Texas with a good portion of the central Lower 48 experiencing freezing, record cold temperatures. ECMWF 12z update ( ) 10:22 AM – 7 Nov 2019

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

Electric bus has Rochester riders charged up

A 60-foot electric-powered bus parked at Rochester’s downtown transit hub caught some eyes Tuesday.

That was the point.

Rochester Public Transit officials parked the bus at the hub, on Second Street Southwest, as a preview of things to come. A similar model is expected to join the city transit fleet by the end next year, said Nick Lemmer, marketing and outreach coordinator for Rochester Public Transit and Parking.

However, since the bus on display isn’t owned by the city and is not in service, the drivers of the 40-foot diesel buses running their routes at the hub needed the space it occupied.

The bus was moved around the corner onto Second Avenue Southwest.

“We got more traffic there, but we were in the way,” Lemmer said.

The large bus still drew onlookers. “The shape, the attractive color, it’s pretty,” said Robert McIntosh.

The bus attracted at least one transit driver who parked the bus he was driving to see the electric bus up close.

Lemmer said the articulated frame gives the bus a tighter turning radius than the 40-foot buses have. The electric motor generates a smoother and quieter ride.

“You hop on the thing now and you hear the air conditioning fan and that’s about it,” Lemmer said.

The bus has about a 150-mile range on a charge, he added. The city’s long-range transit plan calls for nine electric buses to join the fleet.

The first buses will be used for direct routes and not continuous service. One of the buses can carry about 60 people seated and about another 60 people standing. That’s up 50 percent more than the 40-foot diesel buses carry.

“We’re looking to move larger to and from our park and rides,” Lemmer said.

That means the first bus will be put in service twice a day and can be charged between morning and afternoon runs, even though the bus could likely run both routes on a single charge, Lemmer said.

Transit officials have been watching the performance of Duluth’s electric buses to gauge how well they run in the winter. The first electric bus will likely be equipped with a diesel heater for extreme cold running. Running the electric heater shortens the bus’s range, as does the cold weather itself. The Duluth buses have performed well, Lemmer said, and have to deal with more extreme hills than Rochester presents, he added.

A $2.29 million grant through the federal Low- or No-Emission Grant program made purchasing the bus possible and is helping fund a charging station at the city’s bus garage. An expansion project there will accommodate the charging station.

Delivery of the bus from the manufacturer, New Flyer, is still a year or more away because grant requirements and contracts need to be completed before the order is officially placed.

“Once those are done, the order will be placed and the bus will be on its way,” Lemmer said.

Published by John Molseed Post Bulletin