Day: November 10, 2020

Chicago Travel Quarantine Order Now Affects Nearly All States

CHICAGO — City folks visiting nearly every U.S. state will be required to quarantine for two weeks under a revamped coronavirus emergency travel order, public health officials said Tuesday.

“It’s not rocket science about what needs to be done. It’s about individual decision-making. Now is not the time to be traveling. Now is not the time to be gathering. It is not the time to have people into your home who do not already live there,” Chicago public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

The city’s emergency travel order now designates COVID-19 travel risks in three categories — Red, Orange and Yellow. As of Tuesday, 42 states and Puerto Rico were categorized as coronavirus hot spots that would require Chicagoans to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from any of those locations.

City officials also urged Chicagoans to avoid nonessential trips to six other states and the District of Columbia in the Yellow category.

“It is the time to put COVID first. Imagine that you yourself have COVID right now. And if you have COVID, that means you need to be wearing your mask whenever you’re going out from your home. You need to be social distancing. You need to be hand-washing. You need to be staying home if you are having even mild symptoms,” Arwady said. “And you need to be looking out for your family, your neighbors and all of Chicago. I know we’re tired of COIVD, but COVID is going to continue to grow if we can’t change our behavior.”

Arwady also said that gathering in Chicago also presents severe risks of spreading COVID-19. She said there’s a 1-in-3 chance that someone has COVID-19 in a gathering of 10 people. In a group of 50, the risk of being in the presence of someone with coronavirus jumps to 9 out of 10 people, Arwady said.

The travel order requires travelers self-quarantine after visiting hot spot states that have a higher coronavirus positivity rate than Chicago, or 15 positive case per 100,000 people. Those states include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

City officials also advised folks to avoid nonessential travel to “Yellow” states including New York, California, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Maine, Vermont and District of Columbia.

More information is available on the Chicago Public Health Department website.

This article originally appeared on the Chicago Patch

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College Students (And Covid-19) Will Travel Home For Thanksgiving

In keeping with nationwide standardized protocols for Covid-19 testing and safety, when it comes to college campuses, there are none. Two weeks from now, millions of college students will head home for Thanksgiving break. Some will fly, some will drive, and some will take other forms of transportation such as buses and trains. Some are planning on staying at home until early 2021, and some will plan on heading back to campus with millions of others, at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend. While flights have been remarkably empty over recent weeks, in small part due to October/November being off-season for tourism, but in large part due to the pandemic, this may change as Thanksgiving approaches. And while some schools, especially smaller colleges and those in more rural locations, have developed meticulous and tightly-controlled Covid-19 testing, tracing, and isolation protocols, others have taken a much more hands-off approach.

Schools such as Pennsylvania State University have created voluntary “Departure Testing” plans, to ensure that most, if not all, students have completed Covid-19 testing prior to heading home, and they will offer on-campus isolation sites for those students who test positive. Boston University has asked on-campus students to stay put, and highly discourage students to travel home. To avoid an influx of Covid-19 cases coming to campus after the Thanksgiving Break, the University of Arizona will not only offer testing to on-campus students, but they will also revert any currently held in-person classes to remote for the remainder of the Fall semester. If you’re getting the sense that if you’ve seen one college protocol, you haven’t seen ‘em all, you’re right. There are over 5,000 colleges and universities in the U.S., and no two have the same protocol. We need to brace ourselves for a steeper spike in cases in the coming weeks, as a large chunk of the millions of students will mobilize all at once.

Many colleges that are planning on continuing in-person classes after the Thanksgiving break are urging students to stay on campus, have small, physically distanced events with friends, “visit” with family virtually, and well, just hang in there during this challenging time. Many are recommending staying at home if they do, indeed head home. And many are having kids come back to campus.

The American College Health Association has provided the following recommendations, if students do, indeed, decide to travel home:

“The most cautious approach upon arrival home is to quarantine for the first 14 days after arrival. This is especially important if there are vulnerable, higher risk individuals living in the home and/or there is high prevalence on the campus or in the local community surrounding the campus prior to leaving for home.

  • Quarantining in the home includes eating meals in a private space or outdoors with family at least 6 ft apart.
  • Use separate serving ware, utensils, glasses, and
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Former Ravens WR Torrey Smith takes on new role with West Baltimore recreation center

Former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith has partnered with Baltimore City Recreation and Parks to run the programming at the long-closed Hilton Recreation Center, he announced Tuesday.

Smith founded the Level82 fund (formerly the Torrey Smith Family Fund) with his wife, Chanel, which aims to “leverage the power of community collaboration” to help Baltimore families. Reginald Moore, executive director of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, said in a video announcing the partnership at the West Baltimore center that has been closed since 2008.

“We’re back to doing what we would truly feel like we were born to do, which is to help the community,” said Torrey Smith, a Maryland graduate who won a Super Bowl while playing for the Ravens from 2011 to 2014. “It’s something that, I’m not going to lie, we’re a little nervous about. But we’re excited about the responsibility to help others and to be hands-on with the community and helping to change the community one family and one individual at a time.”

Smith has long been active in the Baltimore community, and he wrote on Twitter that he’d been working on becoming more involved since retiring from the NFL last year. Smith said Tuesday that he will be a regular presence at the Hilton Recreation Center, and he plans to enroll his children in some of its programs.

“They could have chosen many places to go to renovate a rec center, but they chose Baltimore, and that means a lot to our agency,” Moore said. “It means a lot to our community.”


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Philly’s Fraud Street Run will go from the ‘famous Four Seasons Total Landscaping’ to ‘the lesser-known Four Seasons Hotel’

Much like the Rudy Giuliani press conference that inspired it, the new Philly Fraud Street Run is very unorganized.

“It’s purposely unorganized and hastily put together,” said creator Jeff Lyons. “Giuliani did something very dumb and we’re making it dumber.”

You didn’t really think Philly was just going to stop at memes and T-shirts, did you?

Birthed into creation on Monday — just two days after Giuliani’s baffling news conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping went viral — the Fraud Street Run is an “11-ish mile” charity run on Nov. 29 from Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Northeast Philly to the Four Seasons Hotel at the Comcast Center in Center City.

“It’s just celebrating something dumb that happened. Everyone is invited,” Lyons, 51, said. “With this run, we want to make sure we celebrate good things happening in Philly and prove we have the best sense of humor — bar none — of any city in the country.”

Lyons, who’s the assistant director of web development at the College of Liberal and Professional Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is co-hosting the race with Chip Chantry, a Philly comedian. The two runners have a podcast called Junk Miles with Chip & Jeff, which started in 2016 with the men interviewing people while they ran around Philly (though the interviews have become stationary as of late).

The idea for the Fraud Street Run came to Lyons during a conversation with running coach Gerard Pescatore.

“I thought it would be fun to run to the Four Seasons Landscaping, and then I thought, ‘You know what would be more fun? If we did it point to point,’” Lyons said.

He put the idea out on Twitter Monday and it took off.

Just throwing it out there, new Philly 10-Miler? @rebthebarber @dhm @byJenAMiller @GPescatore @brimil

— Jeff Lyons (@usedwigs) November 9, 2020

“I’m getting people emailing me asking ‘Can we bike it? Can we roller blade it?’ Sure! This is a fraud run. Break the rules!” Lyons, of Wynnewood, said, “The thing I love is that people from out of town are saying, ‘You knew they were going to take it to another level!’ Philly cannot let things go and I love it.”

Lyons batted around a few ideas for the name, like “Eight Seasons Total Landscaping Hotel Run,” but Fraud Street Run — a nod to Philly’s beloved 10-mile Broad Street Run — was the clear winner.

This “100% unsanctioned run” has no awards, no aid stations, and no fees, though participants are encouraged to make a $10 donation to Philabundance. All runners are to wear face masks and remain socially distanced throughout the course, Lyons said.

Never have I wished I was in enough shape to run 11 miles more than right now!! #FraudStreetRun

— Bethany (@BeGraceFul_319) November 10, 2020

There’s also a virtual option for people who want to run their own 11-mile course on or after Nov. 29 and post photos to the hashtag #FraudStreetRun.

Lyons said

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UK making good progress on travel testing to cut quarantine

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is making good progress with a plan to allow COVID-19 tests to cut a 14-day quarantine period for those returning from abroad, a change which could help fuel a travel recovery once current lockdowns end, the transport minister said.

Airport bosses welcomed the update from the minister, Grant Shapps, at an online conference but said more needed to be done. The top priority for them is that the government eliminates the requirement for quarantine through testing for the coronavirus.

“We’re making very good progress on a ‘test to release programme’ to launch once we’re out of this lockdown,” Shapps said on Monday. “Once we emerge from the lockdown, we can roll out new systems to help get people flying and travelling again.”

UK airports and airlines said that a shorter quarantine period was even more crucial after a new four-week lockdown imposed in England until Dec. 2 wiped out any of the remaining meagre income they were still making from low levels of travel during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have called for extra government help, asking for tax holidays from requirements such as air passenger duty and business rates.

But Shapps said the primary solution to aviation companies’ financial problems would be getting customers flying again, “ideally through the development of an effective vaccine”.

Separately, positive news about a Pfizer vaccine while the conference was being held boosted UK airline shares on Monday, with British Airways owner IAG <ICAG.L> and easyJet <EZJ.L> both up 30%.

The chief executive of Gatwick, Britain’s second biggest airport after London’s Heathrow, told the conference that he favoured an antigen test 72 hours before departure as a way to end the need for quarantine.

Shapps said that rapid actual-flow tests for the coronavirus being trialled in Liverpool which give results in less than an hour should be seen as an optimistic development. “Ultimately it could open the way for non-quarantined air travel.”

The government was also working with partner countries to consider pre-departure quarantine and testing options that would end the need for quarantine upon arrival at destination, he said.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Heinrich)

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Should You Use Miles to Book 2020 Holiday Travel?

Many frequent travelers haven’t stepped foot on a plane for months. Yet, with the holidays approaching, it might be time to dust off the old airline mile account and start booking award travel.

Or is it?

Setting aside the question of whether it’s wise to travel at all this winter, here we’ll dive into the question of using travel rewards like airline miles and hotel points to book holiday travel. Do award bookings offer good value compared with paying in cash in 2020? And do they offer greater or different flexibility in case plans change?

By the numbers: Airline mile value

As part of our updated 2020 airline mile valuations, we compared cash and award booking prices across many dates, including “peak” holiday travel at the end of December. This lets us compare the average cent-per-point value for these bookings during the holidays compared with other times.

This shows us that there is no simple answer to the question, “Is using miles during the holidays a good idea?” American, Southwest and United offered better-than-average value for holiday reward bookings, in our analysis, while the other airlines offered average or slightly below-average value.

Also, these are average values, and individual cases will vary. Some United redemptions will offer lousy value, while some Delta redemptions will (presumably) offer good value during the holidays. The best bet is to compare the cash and award booking prices for your own route and dates, using a calculator like this one.

Keep in mind that the “value” of an award redemption depends not only on the number of miles needed to book it but also the equivalent cash price. And one of the interesting variables making this year unlike others is that cash prices for holiday travel remain historically low.

Make sure to check cash prices

Usually, the allure of using miles to book holiday travel comes from the sky-high cost of normal cash fares. That is, when faced with a ludicrous cash ticket price, many travelers wonder whether points and miles offer a better value. But that’s not the case this year.

According to airfare tracking app Hopper, Christmas airfare is 40% lower in 2020 than 2019, with an average round trip airfare costing just $222. And unless demand increases soon, those prices are likely to remain low until the last minute.

Graph courtesy of Hopper.

The price of Christmas airfare has actually decreased as the holiday approaches, tracking well below the 2019 average.

Importantly, low cash prices usually mean lower “value” for miles, since the cost of award bookings is often more fixed than cash prices. That is, the lower-than-average value shown above for some airlines may simply be the result of lower-than-average cash prices.

Again, it’s important to check the relative value of your own route before booking. If the cash prices are low, you might not need to dip into your miles.

What about flexibility?

With another wave of the pandemic mounting, you don’t want to get locked into any

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‘Help me’: Hotel manager witnessed slain Houston police sergeant’s final moments

It was a routine Monday at Taj Inn & Suites until manager Sid Gandhi heard two loud bangs. He figured the noise came from the nearby mechanic shop, but after a third and fourth bang, he knew something was wrong.

A bell rang in the lobby. Ghandi got up from the sofa in the back and went to the front office where he saw a man — later identified as Houston police Sgt. Sean Rios — covered in blood.

“’Help me, help me. Call 911,’” Rios said, according to Ghandi.

The manager took a deep breath and dialed. The 47-year-old police sergeant fell to the ground, unconscious, Ghandi said. His chest was soaked in blood. Paramedics pronounced Rios dead at the scene.

Rios, a 25-year veteran of the department, was on his way to a 2 p.m. shift at George Bush Intercontinental Airport when he engaged a suspect in a gun battle near the Interstate 45 service road and Stuebner Airline, according to Chief Art Acevedo. Rios was wearing regular clothes and driving his personal car.

Surveillance video from Taj Inn & Suites shows Rios running from the street into the hotel lobby, said Ghandi, who viewed the video with police before submitting it for evidence. The video does not show the shoot-out, Ghandi said.

The circumstances leading up to the shoot-out remained unclear Tuesday, police said.

The suspected shooter, described as being in his mid- to late-30s with heavy tattoos, remained at large as of Tuesday afternoon. Investigators recovered his blue Mercedes and were searching for a black pick-up truck also apparently connected to the crime, police said.

During a Monday news briefing, Acevedo urged anyone with information to come forward and issued a warning to the suspects.

“We are coming after you,” he said. “We’re going to capture you.”

Rios, a father of four, was the fourth Houston police officer killed in the line-of-duty since December 2019. Arson investigator Lemuel Bruce and Sgt. Harold Preston were each killed by gunfire in October.

The killing also came on a deadly day in Houston involving a string of other fatal shootings.

Lyn Rathburn, owner of Cactus King on Stuebner Airline, said he was working out back, several hundred yards from the road, when he heard three loud cracks that sounded like cars or construction noises.

“By the time I got (up front), police were everywhere,” he said. “I was going ‘What’s going on?’”

He pieced together what happened from news accounts and his employees.

“My heart goes out to the family,” Rathburn said. “I cannot believe something like that would happen right out here. It is Houston and we are on a freeway … that stuff can start across town and end up here.”

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Where Mike Pence Should Go On Vacation: Guantanamo, a Packed DMV

Illustration for article titled Mike Pence Is Going on Vacation, But We Have Some Better Ideas (Guantanamo)

Image: SAUL LOEB / AFP (Getty Images)

It has only been three days since Joe Biden was announced the winner of the 2020 Presidential election, a decision Republicans are denying with the kind of ferocity I thought they only reserved for climate change and the existence of the covid-19 pandemic. And yet, despite the brief interlude, the soon-to-be former Vice President Mike Pence has decided it is time to go on vacation to Sanibel, an island off Fort Myers along Florida’s Gulf Coast. For some reason he’s attended church services there before, Tampa Bay Times reports, as if Pence isn’t a sentient demon waltzing around this country in a human suit. I wonder if he knows the body of water he’ll enjoy is the Gulf of Mexico. I assume this would be a turnoff. 

At any rate, I thought it would be appropriate to list off a few suggestions of where Pence should go on vacation that is not Florida. You know, places where he’d feel more at home:

10. Quarantine. There’s a pandemic waging havoc, no one should be going on a beach vacation right now, especially the goddamn Vice President of the United States of America. At least he won’t be that for very much longer, am I right?

9. One of his administration’s beloved immigrant detention centers.

8. A music festival’s port-a-potty, after the sun has set and it has been in use all day. It’s dark, he’ll miss Coldplay, and what was that squishy thing?

7. A dump. (The flies will finish their bidding.)

6. A populous Midwestern DMV at the end of the school year, when most high school freshman have passed their mandatory Driver’s Education course.

5. A public school and/or hospital with limited PPE.

4. Conversion therapy camp, where he will undergo “therapy,” for his homophobia.

3. Guantanamo Bay

2. War

1. Hell…. It had to be said.


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Return to JFK airport set for February, thanks to pandemic travel lull

  • United will resume its service at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Feb. 1 with flights to California.
  • The airline ended service at JFK in October 2015 after losing money there.
  • A lull in traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic helped United find space at JFK.

a large passenger jet flying through a clear blue sky: United Airlines Boeing 767-400 ER Extended Range with 2x CF6-80 engines aircraft landing at Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport AMS EHAM in The Netherlands, the Dutch capital.

© Provided by CNBC
United Airlines Boeing 767-400 ER Extended Range with 2x CF6-80 engines aircraft landing at Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport AMS EHAM in The Netherlands, the Dutch capital.

United Airlines has set a date for its return to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport: Feb. 1.

The Chicago-based airline is taking advantage of a lull in traffic because of the coronavirus pandemic to grab some space at what is normally one of the country’s most congested airports, CNBC first reported in September. The airline ended service at JFK in October 2015 after losing money there.

Video: Southwest will no longer keep middle seats empty on flights (TODAY)

Southwest will no longer keep middle seats empty on flights



United is planning to operate Boeing 767-300ER planes to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Kennedy Airport’s Terminal 7. Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of domestic network planning, said it could expand service with more frequencies or to other airports.

United serves the New York area from its hub at Newark Liberty International Airport, where it dominates service, and out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

But United executives saw an opening at JFK. Airline capacity in New York state is down 65% this month from a year ago compared with the national average of just over 40%, according to Airlines for America, a trade group that represents United, American, Delta and other large U.S. airlines.

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Tourists are buying fake covid-19 test results on the black market to travel

With global coronavirus cases rising, many countries are now requiring negative coronavirus test results for entry, but getting a test in time can be difficult for travelers.

a close up of a device

© iStock/Washington Post illustration

So it may have been only a matter of time before a black-market option emerged: counterfeit test results. The practice of forging or purchasing fake results has surfaced in destinations around the world, with instances of manipulated negatives in Brazil, France and the United Kingdom.

What to know about getting tested for the coronavirus to travel

Last week, French officials broke up an alleged forgery ring that was selling false test certificates at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport. According to the Associated Press, the group was asking $180 to $360 (150 to 300 euros) for the digital certificates of a negative result.

Police charged the group of seven (six men and one woman) with forgery and fraud after investigating how an Ethiopia-bound passenger acquired a false coronavirus document at the airport in September. The fake certificates were stored on mobile phones and had the name of a medical lab located in Paris, the BBC reported.

Police in Brazil recently arrested four domestic travelers who forged negative coronavirus tests to visit the island of Fernando de Noronha on a private jet, according to the Associated Press. The island, which is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, reopened to tourists on Oct. 10 and requires entrants to present negative coronavirus test results acquired no more than one day in advance.

According to a U.K. newspaper, the practice has also surfaced in England: The Lancashire Telegraph reported speaking with one man who doctored a friend’s negative coronavirus test, printed it out and used it for international travel. The newspaper also spoke to another traveler who was offered a fake document from their travel agent.

As test-result protocols for travel are becoming more high-tech, however, it’s unlikely that many travelers would be able to travel with a manipulated document. The state of Hawaii, for example, requires visitors to preregister in their online testing program, use an approved testing partner, and upload results to a digital portal. Paper copies are not accepted.

A new app called CommonPass launched last month for passengers on United Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways to upload their coronavirus test results directly to their airline for verification when flying through some airports. The health-screening app aims to decrease global reliance on quarantines by centralizing a traveler’s coronavirus status and documents for easy access by airlines and their destinations. The app is on a trial run and is available only to passengers flying to or from New York, London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Read more:

Airlines are bringing back in-flight snacks and drinks. But should you eat on the plane?

A travel group report says flying is safe. The doctor whose research it cited says not so fast.

Is it safer to fly or drive during the pandemic? 5 health experts weigh in.

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