Day: November 19, 2020

After years of planning, new 304-room downtown Tacoma hotel is open for business

Wednesday morning marked a landmark launch in downtown Tacoma with the opening of the new Marriott Tacoma Downtown hotel next to the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.

“We’re officially open,” said Ben Osgood, general manager of the hotel. “We’ve signed all the documents and the doors are open.”

Osgood spoke to The News Tribune not long after the official 9 a.m. opening.

There was no pomp and circumstance with a large crowd of officials to mark the start, given that Pierce County is now awash in its third surge of COVID-19 cases in the pandemic.

“It’s a little quiet, to say the least,” Osgood said. “But …. we are receiving reservations as we speak.”

For tourism officials, that’s good news.

“This is a big day for Pierce County, and we’re excited to officially welcome Marriott Tacoma Downtown into the Tacoma hotel community,” said Dean Burke, president and CEO of Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports, via email Wednesday.

Adapting to change

The hotel, with 22 floors and 304 guest rooms, has been a goal for the city since the convention center’s completion in 2004.

The site’s groundbreaking on Aug. 8, 2017, was arranged with the help of a feng shui expert, focused on every celebratory detail down to the date itself to instill good luck on the project.

Fast forward to 2020: Attention to detail now is focused on providing safe service in a pandemic.

Opening plans called for what Osgood describes as a “big pivot” following Gov. Jay Inslee’s new orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Really, the biggest change that we had to pivot on just in the last three, four days is we are unfortunately unable to open our restaurant,” Osgood said.

Staff had trained for weeks planning for a thriving indoor dining scene.

Instead, guests now can experience a revamped room service with quick turnaround time.

“Our interim dining program … it’s not the traditional room service that you would expect where you get to your room and, an hour and a half after you order, your food shows up on the big metal plate (with) all the fancy dinnerware,” Osgood said.

“This is more on demand, a la carte experience that will be delivered to your room or available for grab and go in the lobby within 15 minutes of your order. So it’s hot and fresh. It competes with your fast casual restaurants. Everything’s in compostable packaging. It’s a really good program, and it keeps it actually very affordable for the guest.”

Other amenities for now are either scaled down or temporarily off-limits, such as the pool, spa and fitness center.

Cleaning, air filtration

Cleaning, another big issue top of mind with guests trying to avoid COVID-19, follows a pandemic protocol.

“Basically, anything that can’t be sanitized in the guest room is removed.,” Osgood said, “and available by request only. We’re going pretty much paperless. So QR codes, compendiums on the TV.”

On-screen “compendiums” are best described as a digital concierge,

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Bill Gates predicts half of all business travel won’t return once COVID-19 is gone, report says

bill-gates-july-2020-cbs-evening-newws

Bill Gates: Companies will have a “very high threshold” for traveling to conduct in-person meetings.


Screenshot by CNET

Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicts that half of all business travel won’t return after the coronavirus pandemic ends and that people will also work far less often from a physical company office, Business Insider reported. Gates made the remarks Tuesday at The New York Times DealBook conference, BI said.

“My prediction would be that over 50% of business travel and over 30% of days in the office will go away,” Gates reportedly said, adding that from now on, businesses will have a “very high threshold” for traveling to conduct in-person meetings.

Microsoft has already announced a permanent work-from-home policy for eligible employees, who can also choose from a hybrid model where they spend some days in the office. Twitter, Facebook and other tech companies have announced similar policies. 

The Microsoft founder didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s also possible many tech conferences could stay in their online format, rather than hosting tens of thousands of people at a brick and mortar convention center.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Pennsylvania tightens mask mandate, enacts new travel rules as COVID-19 surges

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said Tuesday residents should wear masks in all settings – even if socially distanced – and avoid traveling, if possible.

For those who leave the state and want to come back, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine advises testing negative for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before doing so. Those who don’t should quarantine for two weeks or until they receive a negative result.

The new guidance, in effect as of Friday, doesn’t apply to those who work across state lines or travel for medical care, Levine added. And it’s still up to local businesses to enforce the mask mandate.

“With freedom comes responsibility … and we all have a responsibility to work toward the common good,” Levine said. “And right now that means following the guidance to stop the spread of Covid-19 through out the state.”

The department reported more than 26,000 new cases of COVID-19 between Nov. 6 and Nov. 12 – an increase of more than 9,500 over the previous week. Testing positivity rates also spiked from 6.8 percent to 9.6 percent. The department has said anything over 5 percent is cause for concern.

So, too, are the rising hospitalizations across the state. The department said more than 2,500 residents are receiving inpatient care for the virus, of which about 22 percent are in intensive care. Levine said modeling shows the state could run out of ICU beds next month.

“COVID-19 is burning throughout our country … every single state in the country, from Maine to Hawaii, is being impacted,” Levine said. “What we are saying is, Pennsylvania is not an island … and we are seeing the impact of those increases from throughout the country.”

The new guidance comes just days after Gov. Tom Wolf participated in an emergency summit over the weekend with four other northeastern states.

Wolf attended a virtual meeting on Saturday hosted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that included New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Delaware Gov. John Carney. The leaders discussed ways to combat the fall resurgence of the virus, months after entering into a regional coalition that coordinated on restrictions, testing and PPE.

Lyndsay Kensinger, a Wolf spokesperson, said Monday that the governor “did participate in the call last evening with Govs. Cuomo, Lamont, Murphy and Carney to discuss working together during this next phase of the COVID pandemic.”

“Topics ranged from travel, including for college students returning for the holidays, mask mandates, gatherings, testing, education, and sharing of resources and PPE,” she said. “These discussions will continue.”

Levine told reporters Tuesday there’s no plan to return to the color coded phases of restrictions – red, yellow and green – and that it’s up to local municipalities to enact stricter regulations. She couldn’t say what conditions might trigger a statewide response as was seen in the spring.

“It’s impossible for me to predict the future in terms of what exactly conditions might exist,” Levine said.

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‘Jersey Shore: Family Vacation’: Who is Nikki Hall? Here’s all you need to know about Pauly DelVecchio’s girlfriend

‘Jersey Shore: Family Vacation’ is back with another season, and things are about to get interesting in the house as the cast members invite their dear ones in the house. However, they are making sure that everything is done safely. The cast members are set to enter the house with their masks on and sanitizer placed in every corner. 

Even though the surrounding and situation is going to be different, there is no doubt they will bring the same amount of entertainment as they used to. The previous season ended in a cliffhanger as Jenni Farley, Nicole Polizzi, and Deena Nicole Cortese got into an argument with Angelina Pivarnick on her wedding day. 

Angelina was not pleased with the speech the girls had delivered that also led to them not speaking for months. It is uncertain if they have reunited, but the new season will definitely give a glimpse of where they stand now. Apart from this, the show will also see Pauly D’s girlfriend Nikki Hall coming on the show with him. 

In the previous season, the cast members tried to hook up Pauly and Jennie. However, this season it will not be possible. Nikki and Pauly first met each other on the show called ‘Double Shot At Love’ that was started to help him find true love. Nikki managed to go till the finale, but Pauly decided he wanted to stay single. 

Just when people thought there was no hope for the couple, things changed when Nikki returned for season 2. At first, the pair had a hard time getting comfortable with each other, but things changed soon. With a little push from Mike Sorrentino and his wife, Lauren Pesce Pauly, and Nikki managed to get comfortable with each other. 

However, it wasn’t until after the season finale that the two decided to give their relationship a shot. The two made their relationship official during the reunion episode. Nikki had been staying with Pauly during the quarantine. There were numerous occasions when she made an appearance on his social media. 

Even though their relationship is new, there is no doubt that the pair is still going strong. ‘Jersey Shore’ fans might get to see a different side to him in the coming season. 

‘Jersey Shore: Family Vacation’ Season 4 premieres on November 19 at 8 pm ET on MTV. 

If you have an entertainment scoop or a story for us, please reach out to us on (323) 421-7515

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Woodhaven residents encouraged to review five-year recreation plan before final draft to council | News

The newly proposed five-year Woodhaven Parks and Recreation master plan is now available for public review.

Residents are able to look over the plan and make their comments on it until at least the end of the month.

According to city officials, in order to achieve the overall goal of the plan, the process must be customer driven and oriented.

Input from residents, community leaders, school supporters, business owners and volunteers was being sought and integrated into the plan representing the priorities of the community.

Officials said with strong working relationships, partnerships and collaborations, the use of community resources will be maximized for the benefit of all residents.

Prior to making the final submission to the City Council for its consideration and then approval, plans call for the Recreation Commission to further consider and discuss the additional public input during the Dec. 21, virtual meeting.

Residents recently completed a survey asking for thoughts on various recreational activities offered in the city.

The responses from the survey and additional input helped formulate a vision for the city in terms of other programs, services and facilities.

The survey was designed to show officials how the services offered are working and what things would be attractive for the future.

It was put together to gauge opinions, interests and beliefs about the city’s parks and recreation department.

The input helped formulate a vision for the city in terms of other programs, services and facilities moving forward.

Some of the questions focused on improving the park system, the operation and maintenance of parks and facilities, city sponsored events, underserved recreational needs and prioritizing the appeal of various activities.

Recreation has been a focus for Mayor Patricia Odette over the past several years.

Among other things, she has brought playground area amenities, a dog park, Splash Pad, fitness trails, renovated Safety Town buildings, added a skate park and more to the city.

A draft of the proposed master plan is available on the city’s website at Woodhavenmi.org.

All comments, concerns and suggestions can be shared in writing via email at [email protected] or mailed to the Woodhaven Parks and Recreation Department, 23101 Hall Road, Woodhaven, MI 48183.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the city will provide necessary reasonable auxiliary aids and services to individuals with disabilities.

For additional information, contact the recreation department at 734-675-4926.

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USWNT’s Lindsey Horan tests positive for coronavirus, won’t travel to Netherlands

U.S. women’s soccer midfielder Lindsey Horan tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss the rematch of the 2019 World Cup final against the Netherlands on Nov. 27, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Wednesday.



Lindsey Horan standing in front of a crowd: Lindsey Horan, 26, has made 86 appearances for the U.S. national team and was a member of the 2019 world championship squad. (David Vincent/Associated Press)


© David Vincent/AP
Lindsey Horan, 26, has made 86 appearances for the U.S. national team and was a member of the 2019 world championship squad. (David Vincent/Associated Press)

Horan, 26, received the diagnosis as part of pre-trip testing procedures. No others tested positive, the USSF said. The players are expected to begin arriving in the Netherlands on Friday.

Horan, who plays for the Portland Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League, is “doing well” and “observing the appropriate quarantine protocols,” the USSF said.

Jaelin Howell, a junior midfielder at Florida State, will replace Horan, who has scored 19 goals in 86 U.S. appearances and was a member of the 2019 World Cup squad that defeated the Netherlands in the final, 2-0.

On Sunday, Howell, 20, scored twice in the Seminoles’ 3-2 victory over North Carolina in the ACC final in Cary, N.C.

Last month, she participated in a U.S. training camp in greater Denver. Howell is seeking her first appearance with the senior squad after 29 games with the under-20 team.

The only other college player invited this week was Stanford’s Catarina Macario, who will train with the team but isn’t likely to be eligible to play in the match. A naturalized citizen from Brazil, she is awaiting FIFA eligibility.

The match against the Netherlands is the first for Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s team since the SheBelieves Cup in March.

Read more on soccer:

D.C. United’s coaching search enters second stage

USWNT, turning to stars who left for England, will have a familiar roster against the Netherlands

The World Cup may be two years away, but young USMNT shows immediacy in thrashing of Panama

For some USMNT candidates, there is more than one nation to consider

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Outdoor recreation sales expected to ‘skyrocket’ in the Inland Northwest; including avalanche beacons

Earth Economics estimates outdoor recreations sales are expected to exceed $26 billion in spending as people are rushing to get outside amid the pandemic.

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s nearly been a year since a devastating avalanche at Silver Mountain, three people died and four others were injured. Since then, skiers and resorts have been gearing up to make sure they stay safe on the mountain. 

After the avalanche at Silver Mountain, local retailers saw a spike in avalanche beacons. They’re devices that help locate rescuers locate skiers if they get stuck under the snow. 

Now amid the pandemic, REI Spokane reports beacon sales are spiking once again as record amounts of people rush to get outdoors. 

RELATED: Silver Mountain makes changes to its operations after deadly avalanche

Winter sales in general are projected to skyrocket. Earth Economics estimates outdoor recreation in Washington supports more than $26 billion dollars in spending and that number is said to be larger this season as more people turn to outdoor recreation. 

Even amid new statewide restrictions limiting capacity in stores retailers have stayed busy.

“You know we were concerned about the crowd size and everything, but they’re following the protocols,” Jay and Judy Stafstrom said.

The Stafstrom’s are in shopping for cross-country skiing gear to get into the backcountry.

“We just canceled Thanksgiving with family in Seattle and so now it’s like you gotta get the energy out and the anxiety out, getting outdoors really helps with that,” the Safstrom’s said.

They’re not alone, Katie Wiseman with REI Spokane said demand for outdoor recreations has stayed steady throughout the entire pandemic and people hoping to get their hands on winter outdoor gear should buy now.

RELATED: How to enjoy the outdoors safely in Spokane while social distancing

“Most of our snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and downhill skiing is kind of taking off, we’re telling customers to buy now,” Wiseman said.

Record high demand for outdoor gear has been causing supply to short out sooner. Wiseman said the beginning of the pandemic is a good indicator for what retailers can expect as many chose to opt outside.

“It’s hard to guess and then you look at demand and everyone wanting to get outside, everybody, because that is how to stay apart with your loved ones,” Wiseman said.

One of the most popular items this year is avalanche beacons, something normal for the back-country, but this year some are choosing to carry them even at resorts.

“Every person should have one, if they are in the backcountry in reality that’s a safety concern,” Wiseman said.

RELATED: Spokane-area stores see spike in avalanche beacon sales after Silver Mountain deaths

The devices are used for people going into avalanche danger areas, they send out a radio signal which is picked up by another beacon. However, these devices by themselves aren’t any good unless you have other necessary tools like a shovel and a probe.

“You use that to kind of poke into the snow and see how deep it’s

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UK shares jump on vaccine optimism; banks, travel stocks shine

(Reuters) – British stocks jumped on Monday as positive vaccine data from drugmaker Moderna bolstered hopes of a swift economic recovery to pre-pandemic levels, offsetting concerns over a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union.

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE closed 1.7% higher, after Moderna Inc MRNA.O reported its experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial.

Pfizer Inc PFE.N and German drugmker BioNTech SE BNTX.O made a similar announcement on Nov. 9. British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L, which is yet to release results from its late-stage vaccine trials, fell 1%.

The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index .FTMC ended 1.8% higher, with cinema operator Cineworld Group Plc CINE.L jumping 13.5% to the top of the index. The wider travel and leisure sub-index .FTNMX5750 gained 3.2%.

“This (vaccine news) is more evidence that an end to the pandemic is on the horizon and that the economy can eventually reopen without fears of further lockdowns,” said David Trainer, CEO of New Constructs, an investment research firm based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Energy .FTNMX0530, bank .FTNMX8350 and mining .FTNMX1770 stocks provided the biggest boost to the FTSE 100, which has already gained more than 15% this month, helped by a slew of local stimulus measures and hopes of a sooner-than-expected economic recovery.

Bank stocks also gained following news that PNC Financial Services Group Inc PNC.N would buy the U.S. business of Spanish lender BBVA BBVA.MC for $11.6 billion in cash.

Vodafone Group Plc VOD.L surged 6.9%, after saying it was increasingly confident about its full-year performance, while tech firm Smiths Group SMIN.L rose 4.8%, after highlighting a 30 million-pound cost-saving target for FY21.

Companies that have benefited from people staying home during the pandemic, such as Rentokil Initial RTO.L, Just Eat Takeaway.com JETJ.L and Ocado Group Plc OCDO.L, tumbled between 3.3% and 4.1%.

Meanwhile on the Brexit front, EU warned Britain on Monday that time was fast running out for a trade deal, as negotiators in Brussels began a last-ditch attempt to avoid a tumultuous exit at the end of December.

Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Matthew Lewis

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Deaths at Kendall home raise issues with short-term vacation rental operation

KENDALL, Fla. – The luxury home in Kendall that turned into a crime scene on Tuesday after two mysterious deaths had been flagged by code enforcement officers over violations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since June, Miami-Dade County code enforcement officers had issued a series of citations related to not following COVID-19 emergency orders pertaining to short-term rentals.

The citations at the home at 19330 SW 136 St. had triggered a three-strike rule that code compliance said puts the owner’s certificate of use in jeopardy of being revoked.

The rule, which is part of the measures Miami-Dade authorities are taking to keep coronavirus infections under control, also included a police watch order for five weeks over the Summer.

Property records show Michael P. Hanna is the owner of the home. He could not be reached for comment. Records show he is a licensed real estate broker with an active certificate of use to operate a short-term vacation rental at his home.

Mystery at Kendall mansion: Detectives ask public for help solving case of 2 deaths
Mystery at Kendall mansion: Detectives ask public for help solving case of 2 deaths

On Tuesday, there were advertisements for the home on several short-term rentals including Airbnb, which profiled the home as a “Lake House Villa” with 5 bedrooms. The profile had been removed by Wednesday.

David Martinez was among the neighbors who had complained about the home’s suspicious houseguests and disruptive parties. He said the short-term rental operation at the home had become a threat to the quiet family-friendly neighborhood.

As crime scene investigators gathered evidence in the home on Tuesday, Martinez said the situation was so dire that seeing a Crime Scene Investigation van there didn’t shock him.

A crime scene investigations' van is parked in front of a home where two people were found dead on Tuesday in Kendall.
A crime scene investigations’ van is parked in front of a home where two people were found dead on Tuesday in Kendall. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.)

“We knew something was going to happen,” Martinez said.

On Wednesday evening, the death investigations were still ongoing and the police department had not released any more information about the case.

Detectives were asking anyone with information about the death investigations to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.

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