Day: November 14, 2020

Flying for Thanksgiving? TSA offers safety tips for travel during pandemic

If you’re planning on flying home for Thanksgiving – which both Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the CDC have recommended against – the Transportation Security Administration has provided some tips. 

  1. Don’t forget your mask

Airports around the country require passengers to wear masks while in the terminals. Major airlines have similar policies around face coverings – with many banning masks with valves or vents. Make sure you not only bring your mask, but that it complies with the airline you are flying, as well as the specific airport’s requirements. The TSA also recommends packing an “extra mask or two for sue during your air travels.”

  1. Practice social distancing

The TSA advises passengers to practice social distancing among travelers in the checkpoint lines and among TSA officers, who have implemented ID verifications without physical contact. Though passengers may be asked to temporarily lower face masks during the identification verification.


  1. Check what foods you can carry on before you arrive

Thanksgiving is as much a time for food as it is family. However, before you start whipping up your favorite homestyle gravy, you might want to make sure you have a spill-proof container to put it in as it will need to go in a checked bag.

“If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, packing it in a checked bag,” TSA said in a press release. “For example, cranberry sauce, gravy and wine in quantities larger than 100 ml or 3.4 ounces should go in a checked bag. Cakes, pies and casseroles can travel in carry-on luggage.”

So, maybe make the gravy at your destination.

Also, like with liquid hand sanitizer – which passengers are allowed to bring – foods in carry-on bags will need to be removed and placed in a bin for screening. The TSA recommends placing foods in clear plastic bags to reduce any cross-contamination from the bins.


  1. Check-in with TSA before your trip

Either via the administration’s phone app, or on social media, the TSA advises travelers to check-in for last-minute tips or questions about traveling during the holiday season, as well as find out about flight delays or other airport information. The app also has a searchable “Can I Bring?” function to help passengers decide whether to pack items in a carry-on or in checked luggage.


  1. Consider enrolling in TSA PreCheck

If you are a frequent traveler, TSA recommends TSA PreCheck, which can save time and hassle as passengers who are enrolled do not have to remove shoes, belts, lightweight jackets, electronics or travel-sized

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UPDATE 5-Biden aide says no U.S.-wide COVID lockdown planned as West Coast states advise against travel

(Adds New Mexico health order; updates latest national tallies)

A health care professional walks past an ambulance during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

© Reuters
A health care professional walks past an ambulance during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

By Doina Chiacu and Sharon Bernstein

WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) – President-elect Joe Biden’s top coronavirus adviser said on Friday there were no plans for a wholesale nationwide lockdown to curb the surging COVID-19 pandemic, while three U.S. West Coast states jointly called for a halt in non-essential travel.

The warning against unnecessary transit came as the daily increase in COVID-19 cases in the United States rose to a record of over 177,000 on Friday, the fourth straight day a new all-time high has been set, according to a Reuters tally of figures from U.S. public health agencies.

California, Oregon and Washington urged residents to avoid venturing out of state, citing concerns raised by health experts that the coming holiday travel season would accelerate already alarming spikes in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown took the additional step of ordering social gatherings limited to no more than six people, effective immediately, a restriction she said she was prepared to enforce.

“I am not asking you, I am telling you, to stop your social gatherings … and your house parties and to limit your social interactions to six and under, not more than one household,” Brown said.

Similarly, New Mexico’s acting health secretary, Billy Jiminez, extended through the end of November a three-week-old ban on gatherings of more than five people who do not live in the same household, along with a directive advising state residents to stay “in their homes for all but the most essential activities and services.”

That order also requires face coverings be worn in public and mandates the closure of workplaces not defined as “essential businesses,” such as grocery stores, farms, childcare centers, banks, “big-box” retailers, factories and healthcare facilities.

The dire situation has prompted a growing list of state and local governments to re-impose restrictions they eased during a summertime ebb in COVID-19 outbreaks.

The governors of six states in the Northeast, the region hit hardest in the early months of the pandemic, plan an emergency meeting this weekend to coordinate responses, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The country’s patchwork of measures will likely remain intact after Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20 following his election defeat of Republican President Donald Trump, the head of the Democrat’s coronavirus advisory board said.

“We’re not in a place where we’re saying shut the whole country down,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“Right now the way we should be thinking about this is more like a series of restrictions that we dial up or down depending on how bad a spread is taking place in a specific region,” he said.

Murthy’s comments were a sharp rebuttal to Trump’s repeated campaign assertions that Biden was intent

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Atlanta school principal and college professor wife drown on Puerto Rico vacation

An Atlanta-area high school principal and his college professor wife drowned while vacationing in Puerto Rico this week. 

Jamar and Ann Marie Robinson were swimming in the ocean Sunday behind their beach resort hotel near San Juan when Ann Robinson was dragged by rip currents, according to a Puerto Rico news report. Jamar Robinson tried reaching for his wife and they both went under the water, the report said. 

Onlookers unsuccessfully tried to rescue the couple, authorities said. 

“Our hearts are broken for the family of Mr. Robinson and Mrs. Robinson and the entire Westlake community,” Bobby May, a football coach at Westlake High Scool, where Robinson was principal, tweeted. “We will always remember Mr. Robinson as the principal who worked tirelessly, was always upbeat, passionate, never missed a game or event and LOVED his students with a heart that was unmatched.” 

The couple leaves behind two boys, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

A message posted to the school’s website said Robinson “left a legacy of PRIDE that will live on through the faculty members and students that he impacted and encouraged to #BeTheChange.”

Robinson had been principal of the school, located just outside Atlanta city limits, since 2018. He was recognized as an “Outstanding Georgia Citizen” in 2014 and was described by Fulton County Schools as a “passionate leader whose focus on relationship building and transparency has led to significant results for the communities and students that he serves.”

His wife was an assistant political science professor at Georgia State University Perimeter College, the newspaper reported. She was working toward her doctorate when she died. 

Jamar and Ann Robinson drowned while vacationing in Puerto Rico over the weekend 

Jamar and Ann Robinson drowned while vacationing in Puerto Rico over the weekend 


“She was a beloved and admired member of the faculty and her loss is felt personally and professionally by all of us,” Dean Nancy Kropf told the newspaper in an emailed statement.

Ann Robinson was also known as the “encyclopedia” in her doctorate program because of her intellect and love of learning, the newspaper reported. Funeral arrangements for the couple were pending. 

A New York City couple also drowned while honeymooning in the Caribbean last month. Muhammad Malik, 26, a corporate attorney, and his 29-year-old wife, Dr. Noor Shah, a surgeon, were swimming in chest-high waters at a Turks and Caicos resort on Oct. 28 when they were overcome by strong riptides, the New York Post reported. 

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The director of ‘Home Alone’ says he walked off ‘Christmas Vacation’ because he ‘couldn’t make the movie with Chevy Chase’

Chevy Chase et al. sitting at a table: "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation/Warner Bros.

© National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation/Warner Bros.
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation/Warner Bros.

  • Chris Columbus told Insider what led him to him directing “Home Alone.”
  • The director was hired to helm “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” but didn’t get along with its star Chevy Chase.
  • That opened the door for him to make another Christmas classic, “Home Alone.”
  • “The rest is history,” Columbus said.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

By the 1990s, Chris Columbus had already made a name for himself in Hollywood thanks to penning scripts for classics such as “Gremlins” and “The Goonies.” But switching to directing films was a challenge.

After his debut, the impressive “Adventures in Babysitting” in 1987, Columbus directed the flop “Heartbreak Hotel” a year later. His next movie — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” — would be a make-or-break moment for Columbus. 

Still, that turned out to be a mistake.

The comedy franchise, led by its star Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, the family man driven to give his kids amazing vacations only to fail hilariously, was set up to do a holiday movie in which the Griswolds host Christmas.

Producer John Hughes, best known for classics “The Breakfast Club,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” brought on Columbus to direct. But even before cameras could roll Columbus came to the realization that he could not work with Chase.

“It was fraught with pain and tension with Chevy Chase, but I needed the job desperately,” Columbus told Insider.

Chase had a reputation for being difficult to work with. In fact, it had gone all the way back to when he was one of the original cast members of “Saturday Night Live.” 

Chris Columbus wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Chris Columbus. Slaven Vlasic/Getty

© Slaven Vlasic/Getty
Chris Columbus. Slaven Vlasic/Getty

Despite needing the work, the director decided to exit the project and eventually Jeremiah S. Chechik took the coveted gig.

“At the time I was living with my wife’s parents,” Columbus admitted. “It took everything in my power to convince myself to resign from ‘Christmas Vacation’ because I couldn’t make the movie with Chevy Chase.” 

But two weeks after leaving “Christmas Vacation,” Columbus got a call from Hughes.

“He sends me two scripts and I thankfully chose ‘Home Alone,'” Columbus recalled. “The rest is history.”

Columbus still doesn’t know why Hughes came back to him after he bailed on the producer’s other movie. Looking back, Columbus thinks maybe Hughes was impressed by his bold decision to leave a movie with a built in audience as “Christmas Vacation” would go on to be one of the most popular titles in the franchise. 

a close up of a child wearing a hat: "Home Alone." Fox

© Fox
“Home Alone.” Fox

Still, Columbus was grateful for the second chance.

“A producer can lose faith in their director if he says, ‘I can’t handle this guy,'” Columbus said. “That can show fear, but John didn’t waver.”

And the result was huge for both men, but especially for Columbus.

“[Late actor] Paul Newman once told me making a living in this business is a combination of luck and talent and I really

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Proper Hospitality turned luxury suites into private offices for remote workers

  • Hotel brand Proper Hospitality and coworking space provider Industrious partnered to turn some of Proper’s luxury hotel suites into private offices.
  • The suites can accommodate one to six people depending on the location.
  • Visitors will receive free WiFi, coffee, an extra computer monitor, printing access, and a digital subscription to The New York Times, to name a few perks.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hotel brand Proper Hospitality and coworking space provider Industrious has partnered to turn some of Proper’s luxury hotel suites into private offices.

The “work from anywhere” mentality and digital nomad lifestyle saw a strong resurgence during the pandemic when employers across the US started announcing long-term or permanent work from home protocols. As a result, several industries started looking at this rising nomadic workforce as a potential segment of new customers.

This includes Proper Hospitality, which recently partnered with Industrious’ “Work From Here by Industrious” program to turn some of the brand’s luxury hotel suites into private offices for the work remote crowd. 

Keep scrolling to see what this looks like:

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Oh Good, Mike Pence Is Going On Vacation

What better time for a little R&R than when your political running mate is refusing to concede the election and admit that losing both the electoral college and popular vote means he has zero chance at a second term in the White House? That’s exactly what we suspect Vice President Mike Pence thought to himself before booking a vacation to Florida this week. 

Mike Pence wearing a suit and tie: US Vice President Mike Pence arrives on stage before speaking at a campaign event in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on October 13, 2020. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

© Provided by Refinery29
US Vice President Mike Pence arrives on stage before speaking at a campaign event in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on October 13, 2020. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Miami Herald, the VPOTUS is headed to Sanibel today where he will stay through Saturday. News of Pence’s vacation comes almost immediately after he went MIA for a week following Election Day. Though many suspected that Pence, like White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had contracted COVID-19 and was just laying low, he was reportedly “active” at the White House last week and just picked, oh, the week of the election to go silent. It seemed strange that, during such a critical time, Pence wouldn’t be out trying to rally support from the Trump administration’s voter base, and even stranger now amid Trump’s impending legal battle to try and “steal” the presidency that Pence would just leave town altogether.

But let’s be honest: Pence’s vacation to the southwest Florida island is rage-inducing for other reasons. After we have all spent the majority of the year either sheltering in place, in quarantine, or just generally not going anywhere because of a global pandemic, the person leading the COVID-19 task force is now leaving town amid a Capitol Hill outbreak and a volatile election that has dissented into a party-line battle to the death.

It’s okay, though, because at least we have these internet reactions to Pence’s vacation to keep us happy and warm.

But before you grow envious of his undeserved week in the sun, would it help to know that it won’t even be that nice when he’s there?

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The Evolving Travel ‘Experience’: Virtual, Actual and In Between

Guided excursions have long been at the heart of travel, but like everything else, the pandemic disrupted such experiences, and many went virtual. But as travel begins to tick up, existing tour companies are adapting to social distancing in other ways.

Some are complementing virtual experiences — for instance, guided chocolate tastings with chocolate shipped before the tour — and tailoring closer-to-home actual adventures, like kayaking and hiking. Others are making groups smaller or private and moving outdoors.

This fall, a new player, Amazon, took a deep dive into the strictly virtual model with the start of its Amazon Explore platform, which offers everything from online shopping tours in Peru to tango lessons from Argentina.

Even in destinations that are reopening to international tourism, some operators are waiting for travel to rebound before switching entirely from virtual to actual. Since Panama reopened to international travel last month, Jerin Tate, the owner of Panama Day Trips, has guided just a few in-person tours and plans to continue offering free virtual birding tours in Soberanía National Park near Panama City into December.

“We’re crossing our fingers and hoping, hoping, hoping there’s some semblance of normalcy then,” he said.

In the meantime, the trend reflects a continuum from virtual to actual, as seen below.

The online retailer Amazon applies its shopping prowess to the sourcing of souvenirs with the new platform Amazon Explore. In one-on-one sessions, armchair travelers can visit a leather maker in Seattle ($20), vintage shops in Tokyo ($49) and a Norwegian department store ($90), accompanied by local guides. In many cases, relevant items are available to purchase during the experience — via Amazon, of course.

Not every experience is shopping related. Amazon offers tango lessons with an instructor in Buenos Aires ($90) and a voodoo and cemetery tour in New Orleans ($90). A category devoted to creativity, including a class in Mexican salsa making ($39) and in the Japanese tie-dye style known as shibori ($40), often includes a list of items to have on hand to work alongside an instructor.

“Amazon Explore is designed to complement, rather than replace, traditional travel,” the company stated in an email.

Though Amazon has long threatened small retailers, the new platform uses its size and distribution power to link customers to small businesses around the world. Currently, Amazon Explore is offering 175 experiences, ranging from $10 to $168.

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California coronavirus surge prompts pleas to avoid travel

With California staring down the barrel of another significant coronavirus surge, health officials are recommending residents avoid unnecessary travel — including for Thanksgiving — and urging those who do head out of state to self-quarantine for 14 days when they return.

The move comes amid ominous new signs that California is in the midst of a major new outbreak. Weekly coronavirus cases have doubled in just the last month, from nearly 23,000 cases a week a month ago to almost 48,000 in the seven-day period that ended Thursday, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.

Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties have seen their combined weekly cases shoot up from about 13,000 to 26,000 over the last month. San Diego County saw its weekly cases rise from about 2,000 to 3,700 over the same time period. The county set a record this week with its highest single-day number of confirmed cases reported: 661.

Officials fear the situation could get much worse if people let down their guard during the Thanksgiving holiday.

“And whatever the hell you’re doing, don’t do Black Friday,” said Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at UC San Francisco, saying crowds crawling for deals could easily become super-spreader events.

Though they were quick to point out that the state travel advisory issued Friday is just that — “it isn’t a ban; it isn’t a restriction,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said — officials nonetheless hope that residents take the guidance to heart.

“We’re encouraging Californians to stay close to home, to avoid nonessential travel to other states, other countries and, frankly, across the state if that’s avoidable,” Ghaly said.

The advisory, which Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in conjunction with his counterparts in Oregon and Washington, also asks those who arrive in California from another state or country to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Essential travel, as defined by the advisory, is “for work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care and safety and security,” according to Newsom’s office.

“Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians,” Newsom said in a statement. “Travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, and we must all collectively increase our efforts at this time to keep the virus at bay and save lives.”

Ghaly emphasized that residents can reinforce the battle against COVID-19 by taking steps to protect themselves and their loves ones: Wearing masks in public, regular hand washing, staying home when ill, maintaining physical distance and, of particular importance with the holidays just around the corner, avoiding gathering with those outside your household.

California has generally banned large gatherings, but says shorter, smaller ones of no more than three households may be held, provided they take place outdoors in the hardest-hit counties, and that attendees physically distance and wear face coverings.

The worry, though, is that guidance may fall on the deaf

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The Top 21 Destinations For 2021

Looking for a bucket list travel destination next year? The experts have weighed in on the top 21 places to visit in 2021.

Ovation Travel Group’s agents compiled an exclusive list of the top leisure destinations based on advance sales and client aspirations. (Seems like 2020 was a lost year for travel.) It’s a lot different than last year’s list. The pandemic has made Ovation’s customers more ambitious than ever. Of the top 21 destinations for 2021, only seven are in the U.S.

“During the past eight months, the travel habits of our clients have certainly changed,” says Tina Rose, managing director of Ovation. “Intrepid travelers have been grounded. But the love of travel is still deeply rooted in their DNA.”

It looks as if 2021 is already shaping up to be a busy year for travel. With a lot of pent-up demand from 2020 and with the hope that a vaccine may be widely available, people are making plans. Big plans.

Here are top 21 destinations for 2021:

1. Maldives

Why? It’s easy to see why this is one of the top 21 destinations for 2021. Every island looks like a postcard, with perfectly groomed palm trees and crystal-clear waters washing up to the white sandy beaches. “With gorgeous weather year-round, this destination forces you to disconnect from the world and reconnect with tranquility,” says Aanchal Gandhi, vice president of leisure and independent advisors at Ovation Travel Group.

Who should go? The romantic couple looking to disconnect and lavish in luxury. Also, the scuba enthusiast who wants to explore the exotic marine life of the Indian Ocean.

Don’t miss: The floating breakfasts in your infinity pool villa overlooking the ocean offered by many hotels or the candlelight dinners on the beach such as at the Waldorf Ithaafushi. See this destination before it sinks into the ocean.

2. Serengeti, Tanzania

Why? The Serengeti ecosystem is a 12,000-square mile region of northern Tanzania, including the Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti hosts the second largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world, which makes it one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world. “The savannah stretches out in grasslands, open plains, and rivers,” says Joyce Novick, a luxury travel consultant at Ovation Travel Group. “It’s the perfect place to host the diverse animals — lions, buffalo, wildebeest, gazelle and elephants that come each year in search of food.”

Who should go? Animal lovers of all ages.

Don’t miss: The wildlife. This is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the animal kingdom and to reflect on your place in the environment.

3. Antarctica

Why? One of the top destinations for 2021 is

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Iowa man convicted for ex-girlfriend’s killing, hotel fire

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A judge on Friday ruled that an Iowa man is guilty of second-degree murder for killing his former girlfriend in a hotel room and then setting it on fire.

But District Judge Steven Andreasen ruled 30-year-old Jordan Henry’s drug-addled brain and underlying psychosis prevented him from former the specific intent to kill 40-year-old Elizabeth Bockholt, of Hinton, Iowa, the Sioux City Journal reported.

The ruling spares Henry from a mandatory life-in-prison-without-parole sentence for first-degree murder.

Instead, the Sioux City resident faces 50 years in prison for second-degree murder and 25 years for first-degree arson.

Henry was convicted of strangling Bockholt to death on Jan. 24, 2019 in a Sioux City hotel room. He then set the room aflame to conceal her killing, according to prosecutors.

The judge said Henry’s chronic methamphetamine use and mental illness interfered with his self-control, making it difficult to prove the killing was premeditated.

“Henry likely was not thinking clearly and likely had a diminished ability to control his impulses,” Andreasen wrote.

Henry’s sentencing has not been scheduled yet.

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