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Airlines try to thread the needle as CDC warns against holiday travel

The airline and travel industry are wrestling with how to promote their struggling sectors in the run-up to the usually-busy Thanksgiving holiday, against the backdrop of stern new CDC recommendations released Thursday warning to avoid travel as coronavirus cases spiral uncontrolled.



a group of people sitting at a airport: A passenger carries her luggage through a nearly deserted terminal at the Tampa International Airport in Florida.


© Chris O’Meara/AP Photo
A passenger carries her luggage through a nearly deserted terminal at the Tampa International Airport in Florida.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, said during a briefing Thursday, adding that the health agency is especially concerned about “transportation hubs.”

The agency’s recommendation lines up with a growing number of new state restrictions and warnings in response to record numbers of new cases and more than 250,000 U.S. deaths, as well as disease experts’ concerns that even small indoor gatherings of people from different locations could spread the virus further.

Thanksgiving is typically a banner time of year for the airline industry, which has seen rock bottom revenues in 2020. While the volume of travelers will be much less than in previous years, air carriers have still been hoping for a healthy uptick.

During a press conference held a week ago, Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, said “I hope you’re flying somewhere” for Thanksgiving. “I am,” he continued.

“Flying is safe, I will state that categorically,” Calio said.

But by Thursday, as Covid cases and spread spiked ever higher, Calio had adopted a more cautious tone, though he still insisted the risk of being infected on board a plane is low. On a joint holiday travel call with TSA, Calio said airlines want travelers to “make an informed decision.”

He suggested they look to research like a recent Harvard study that found that with a layered approach — including social distancing, masks and air filtration — the risk of coronavirus transmission aboard a plane is low.

Several additional studies have found the same, although the science is far from settled and other researchers have found suspected cases of transmission on board planes.

The mood was more grim at a U.S. Travel Association press conference later in the day. “We’re in an unprecedented and dangerous time,” said Michael Parkinson, a doctor who serves on an advisory panel for the group.

Roger Dow, the association’s president, said “I’d rather have a little less travel now to come back more quickly down the road.” However, the 74-year-old Dow said he himself will be traveling from Florida to Maryland for Thanksgiving.

TSA chief David Pekoske repeatedly side-stepped questions about whether the agency would discourage holiday travel, saying travelers should “make their own decisions.”

“The decision to travel is up to the traveler,” he said. “And my best advice to the traveler is to consider the recommendations that the Centers for Disease Control have made, that their local public health officials have made and any consultations that they think are appropriate with their own physicians.”

TSA expects to see travel volumes that are consistent with the Columbus Day weekend,

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Buried trash at UTA construction site uncovers glimpse of 19th century rail travel

Buried trash at UTA construction site uncovers glimpse of 19th century rail travel

(Photo courtesy of Utah Transit Authority) Examples of artifacts found in a buried trash pile at the construction site of a new UTA facility offer a glimpse into what 19th century railroads used.

Finding a pile of trash on your property may not seem like reason for excitement. But discovery of one buried at the downtown Salt Lake City site of a new Utah Transit Authority bus maintenance facility is delighting archeologists.

Crews installing a storm drain unearthed a “midden” — a fancy word for trash pile — full of artifacts from trains used as long ago as the 19th century, when the site was a maintenance shop for the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad between the mid-1880s to the late 1950s.
“I have a sneaking suspicion these are the contents of a passenger car,” said Christopher Merritt, historic preservation officer for the Utah Division of State History. They include fully intact bottles and ceramic pottery, plus plates and even a soap dish.

“Sort of like a movie theater, once the movie was over, the crew went in and cleaned out all the trash and these items were deposited. That’s really unique,” he said. “I can’t think of any other similar discovery in the United States of what a passenger experience would have been like on the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in the 19th century.”

(Photo courtesy of Utah Transit Authority) Examples of artifacts found in a buried trash pile at the construction site of a new UTA facility that offer a glimpse into what 19th century railroads used.

UTA said in a news release that when Big D Construction crews made the find during work on its new Depot District Fuels Technology Center, they notified the state. Archeologists and crews have been mapping the area where the artifacts were deposited, nestled against a long concrete foundation with embedded rails.

“Several of the bottles were still corked and had contents in them, what looks like whiskey or other hard liquor in the bottles, which is kind of a cool time capsule in itself,” Merritt said.

He adds that it’s impossible to say whether the artifacts will be the only ones found on the construction.

(Photo courtesy of Utah Transit Authority) Historical photo of Denver & Rio Grande Western maintenance shop that once stood where a new UTA bus facility is being built.

“In this area we’re just learning about this really cool railroad history. What was it like to ride in a passenger train dining car in the 19th century? What were they drinking and eating? This kind of discovery is our only window into the past,” Merritt said.

He praised the construction crews who made the discovery.

“The operators on the ground are experienced. They’re highly skilled. They know what doesn’t feel right when they’re digging with a back hoe,”

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Data shows Americans couldn’t resist Thanksgiving travel

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Americans couldn’t resist the urge to gather for Thanksgiving, driving only slightly less than a year ago and largely ignoring the pleas of public health experts, who begged them to forgo holiday travel to help contain the coronavirus pandemic, data from roadways and airports shows.



FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2020, file photo, air travelers line up to go through a a security checkpoint at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City. Data from roadways and airports shows millions could not resist the urge to gather on Thanksgiving, even during a pandemic. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)


© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – In this Nov. 25, 2020, file photo, air travelers line up to go through a a security checkpoint at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City. Data from roadways and airports shows millions could not resist the urge to gather on Thanksgiving, even during a pandemic. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The nation’s unwillingness to tamp down on travel offered a warning in advance of Christmas and New Year’s as virus deaths and hospitalizations hit new highs a week after Thanksgiving. U.S. deaths from the outbreak eclipsed 3,100 on Thursday, obliterating the single-day record set last spring.

Vehicle travel in early November was as much as 20% lower than a year earlier, but it surged around the holiday and peaked on Thanksgiving Day at only about 5% less than the pandemic-free period in 2019, according to StreetLight Data, which provided an analysis to The Associated Press.

“People were less willing to change their behavior than any other day during the pandemic,” said Laura Schewel, founder of StreetLight Data.

Airports also saw some of their busiest days of the pandemic, though air travel was much lower than last year. The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1 million passengers on four separate days during the Thanksgiving travel period. Since the pandemic gutted travel in March, there has been only one other day when the number of travelers topped 1 million — Oct. 18.



FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2020, file photo, air travelers arriving at Midway Airport in Chicago are reminded of the city's COVID-19 travel orders. Data from roadways and airports shows millions could not resist the urge to gather on Thanksgiving, even during a pandemic. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)


© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – In this Nov. 24, 2020, file photo, air travelers arriving at Midway Airport in Chicago are reminded of the city’s COVID-19 travel orders. Data from roadways and airports shows millions could not resist the urge to gather on Thanksgiving, even during a pandemic. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

“If only a small percentage of those travelers were asymptomatically infected, this can translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections moving from one community to another,” Dr. Cindy Friedman, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official, said this week during a briefing.

Wide swaths of the country saw a sudden influx of people arriving from university campuses in the days leading up to the holiday, according to a data visualization of anonymous cellphone data from a firm called Tectonix.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged people to stay home for the holidays, but officials acknowledged that many people would not heed that advice and advised them to get tested before and after trips. Friedman said that this year’s holidays presented “tough choices” for many families.

The travelers included some elected officials who preached against trips. The mayors of Denver and Austin, Texas, faced fierce backlashes for traveling after telling other

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Rico Nasty Drops Debut Album ‘Nightmare Vacation’

For longtime Rico Nasty fans, today is a global holiday of sorts thanks to the release of the genreless artist’s debut studio album Nightmare Vacation.

As Nasty explained during a recent in-depth chat with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, much of this album was written and recorded during a time in her life where her personal confidence wasn’t dialed up to its usual level of 10. She attributed this to both the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and “growing up,” though the ultimate result was a fresh sense of pride in the self.

“That’s why I named it Nightmare Vacation because all the shit that I was scared of at one point, scared to do and scared to say, it just became my second nature,” Nasty told Lowe. “I want to say that shit. I don’t care if I hurt somebody’s feelings. I’m going to wear it. I don’t care if I get dirty looks … Nightmare Vacation is really just about being yourself, your truest self, going through things that people tell you you can’t get out of and getting out of them, coming out a rockstar.”

The album touches on virtually every aspect of what makes Rico Nasty such a compelling artist, building its sonic peaks across a wide range of production from 100 gecs, Kenny Beats, Take a Daytrip, and more.

“I heard about 100 gecs from my A&R,” Nasty told Lowe of her introduction to the acclaimed brand of pop made possible by the duo of Dylan Brady and Laura Les. “I’m always asking him to put me on to weird sounding shit. I was looking for something. I like ear orgasms.”

Stream Nightmare Vacation, featuring appearances by Gucci Mane and more, below via Spotify.

Moments before the album dropped, Nasty hosted a live YouTube event dubbed Sometimes You Have to Tell People to Shut the F*ck Up.

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Panel to discuss disability sport and recreation in COVID-19

The panel will feature a discussion that focuses on what the rebuild of disability sport and recreation may look like in Victoria and what role sporting organisations can play in this new, post-COVID world.

The discussion will be hosted by diversity and inclusion specialist, Rana Hussain, and features lived experience of disability.

Our speakers:

  • Matthew Haanappel – Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator, Active Monash
  • Ned Brewer-Maiga – Community Assistant – Social Inclusion, Hawthorn Football Club
  • Sarah Anderson – Chair, Disability Sport & Recreation
  • Libby Mears – CEO, Leisure Network

Attendees will learn how their organisation can support people with disability to actively engage with sport and recreation in 2021, with practical strategies and examples on how to do this.

After a challenging year, DSR CEO Richard Amon said it would be refreshing to look at how the sector can collectively work together to get more people with disability physically active in 2021.

“We’ve all had the experience of missing out on community sport during the COVID-19 pandemic. People with disability, however, are particularly at risk of being left behind in the return to sport.

“It is up to us to work together to remove the barriers that prevent participation.

“We have worked with our partners to develop a range of resources that support organisations who work in the sport and recreation sector to meaningfully engage people with disability and change the narrative moving forward.

“This is even more timely given that 2021 is a Paralympics year. We hope this panel discussion will get you thinking outside the box about how you can create a better future for all Victorians.”

VicHealth Physical Activity and Sport Manager, Chris Lacey, said sporting organisations will play a key role in supporting people with disability to reconnect with their community in the coronavirus recovery.

“It’s been great to support Disability Sport & Recreation to bring this expert panel together,” he said.

“This panel will provide sporting organisations with practical information and examples on how to ensure Victorians with disability can participate in sport and physical activity in 2021 and into the future.”

This panel is presented as the first session of the 2020 Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Festival – a unique community event that promotes and celebrates physically active lifestyles for people with disability.

This year the festival is going virtual – with interactive sessions, videos, Q&As and special panels all aimed at engaging people with disability and those who support them.

We encourage everyone that attends the panel discussion to stay on the festival platform and watch the official opening speeches, including a message from Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO VicHealth.

This panel is free to attend but registration is required to access the festival platform.

Register now to access the festival and attend the panel

When: Friday 11 December 2020

Time: 8:00am – 8:50am

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.
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Rico Nasty ‘Nightmare Vacation’ Album Stream

After several delays, Rico Nasty‘s debut studio album Nightmare Vacation has finally arrived.

Clocking in at approximately 40 minutes, the 16-track project features guest verses from Don Toliver and Gucci Mane on “Don’t Like Me,” Aminé on “Back & Forth,” Trippie Redd on “Loser,” 100 gecs on “OHFR?” and ppcocaine, Sukihana an Rubi Rose on the remix of “Smack A Bitch.”

In a recent Apple Music interview with Zane Lowe, the rapper explained that quarantine and the general life path of growing up shot down her ego. The album is “just about being yourself, your truest self, going through things that people tell you you can’t get out of and getting out of them, coming out a rockstar.”

“I feel like I’m still the same boastful b*tch that I’ve always been,” she said, “So obviously, I just think this whole project, it was made during the time where this is probably the first time in my life where I wasn’t on 10, as far as confidence. Within myself, my personal life, normally everything’s great. And making this album just started getting real tricky balancing life.”

She added, “That’s why I named it Nightmare Vacation because all the sh*t that I was scared of at one point, scared to do and scared to say, it just became my second nature. I want to say that sh*t, I don’t care if I hurt somebody’s feelings. I’m going to wear it. I don’t care if I get dirty looks. Just et cetera, et cetera, it goes on and on.”

Stream Rico Nasty’s Nightmare Vacation on Spotify and Apple Music.

Elsewhere in new music releases, Aminé dropped off the deluxe version of his August 2020 release Limbo.


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Italian Government Bans Christmas Travel, Prompting Regional Leaders to Call the Order ‘Crazy’

Italy’s government announced on Wednesday that citizens will not be able to travel throughout the country during Christmas, angering regional leaders who said the new effort to contain the coronavirus’s spread goes too far.



a man wearing a suit and tie: The Italian government issued a new decree on Wednesday, stating that citizens will be prohibited from traveling through Italy's 20 regions during Christmas. In this photo, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte holds a press conference to announce a new emergency decree on COVID restrictions, at Palazzo Chigi, on November 4, 2020 in Rome, Italy.


© Alessandro Serranò/Getty
The Italian government issued a new decree on Wednesday, stating that citizens will be prohibited from traveling through Italy’s 20 regions during Christmas. In this photo, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte holds a press conference to announce a new emergency decree on COVID restrictions, at Palazzo Chigi, on November 4, 2020 in Rome, Italy.

From December 21 to January 6, no Italian citizen will be able to travel among the country’s 20 regions except for work, medical reasons or emergencies, the government order said.

On Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, residents will not even be permitted to leave their specific towns. Those who live in small towns or villages within walking distance to the next will still be banned from leaving their own town limits.

COVID-19 Update: A Breakdown Of Coronavirus Vaccines In Late Stage Trials

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San Antonio to host air travel conference in early 2022

Good news: San Antonio has a major, in-person convention on the books.

In 2022.

In February of that year, San Antonio will host the Routes Americas conference, an event that connects airport officials and airline executives to discuss expanding routes and air service, city officials announced Thursday.

Event organizers say they expect the conference will bring a much-needed boost to the San Antonio hospitality and tourism industry that’s been battered this year by the pandemic. Long-term, the conference could bring more airlines and routes to the area, officials said.

“Air service development is a key priority for the city and (San Antonio Airport System),” said Jesus Saenz, San Antonio’s airport director. “Routes Americas is an unparalleled opportunity to showcase our great city directly to the decision makers as well as bring a much-needed boost to our hospitality community utilizing our world class convention center, hotel rooms, venues and restaurants.”

Last year, the Routes Americas conference was held in Indianapolis, and brought together 700 delegates representing 90 air carriers. In 2022, officials expect the event to bring 1,000 participants to San Antonio.

While air travel picked up at San Antonio International Airport over the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s still down sharply from 2019.

On ExpressNews.com: Holiday, diversions lure travelers into the skies

The passenger count at San Antonio International dropped by two-thirds in September compared with a year earlier. Airlines have at least temporarily eliminiated some routes while cutting the number of flights on other routes.

From Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, three million travelers passed through the airport, down 61 percent from the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, San Antonio’s hotels — magnets for conference visitors in the pre-pandemic era — saw their revenue fall by more than fifty percent from July through September compared with the same time span in 2019.

Hotel occupancy was at 41.6 percent over those three months, compared with an average rate of 65.9 percent in the summer of 2019.

On ExpressNews.com: San Antonio hotels weathered big revenue declines in third quarter

“As a city, we’re committed to the meetings and conventions industry,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, pointing to renovations of the River Walk and Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. “As our meeting industry has evolved and innovated in a COVID-19 environment, one foundation that has only become stronger is the San Antonio spirit of hospitality and enrichment.”

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Cathedral City voters to decide fate of short-term vacation rentals in March special election

The Cathedral City Council on Wednesday night unanimously agreed to allow voters to decide whether to phase out short-term vacation rentals, teeing up a heated debate before a special election occurs on March 2.



a truck that has a sign on the side of a mountain: Cathedral City is the second most populous city in the Coachella Valley.


© Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun
Cathedral City is the second most populous city in the Coachella Valley.

Faced with the decision of repealing a previously passed ordinance to phase-out rentals or calling for a referendum, the council went with the latter, citing the quality of life issues raised by many residents and strong opinions on either side.

“We’re divided here,” Councilmember Mark Carnavale said. “This has to go to the voters for their opinion.”

A working-class community with around 54,000 residents, Cathedral City had around 400 short-term vacation rentals this year before the council passed an ordinance to eliminate them in all neighborhoods but homeowners associations. Their presence has caused significant debate including a lengthy task force report, a moratorium on new rentals, and hundreds of comments from residents on either side of the debate. 

Through the referendum, voters will decide whether the city should stick with the council’s September decision to undo its existing regulations and phase out short-term rentals by 2023, or overturn those policies. 

After the September vote, supporters of short-term rentals organized as Share Cathedral City embarked on a signature-gathering campaign to overturn the ban. The group is an offshoot of another group called I Love Cathedral City that sprung up earlier this year to support vacation rentals, and both argued that Cathedral City didn’t properly enforce its original short-term rental ordinance before making the decision to ban them.

They gathered 4,304 signatures, and 3,515 were verified by the county registrar of voters as of November 24. That meets the threshold of more than 10% of the city’s registered voters to trigger a referendum on whether to overturn the ordinance.



a sign on a dirt road: A sign with a slogan in favor of banning short term rentals sits in the front yard of a home in Cathedral City, Calif. on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.


© Vickie Connor/The Desert Sun
A sign with a slogan in favor of banning short term rentals sits in the front yard of a home in Cathedral City, Calif. on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.

Past coverage: Cathedral City votes to phase out short-term rentals by 2023

Past coverage: Cathedral City group opposed to short-term rental ban submits petition

Because the group gathered enough signatures, the council could’ve voted to repeal the ordinance or put it to the voters. In casting his vote in support of the referendum, Mayor John Aguilar said he has concluded that short-term vacations are “disruptive to our neighborhoods and a bad idea.”

Before Wednesday’s vote, roughly 40 people spoke during a two-hour-long public hearing on what has become one of the most controversial issues for Cathedral City in recent memory.

Residents on both sides of the debate urged the council to take their side by citing the cost to taxpayers of hosting a special election. The Riverside County Registrar of Voters estimates it will cost be between $75,000 and $85,000, according to Cathedral City documents. 

A heated debate

When the city decided to phase out short-term rentals by

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Sparta Recreation Department’s First Christmas Tree Lighting and Other Holiday Events

SPARTA, NJ- The first Sparta Township Christmas tree lighting had to be held without a crowd.  The only element of the celebration that remained was the tree lighting on the front lawn of the Sparta VFW on Main Street on Thursday night.

Sparta Recreation Director Jeanne Montemarano was joined by elves Alison Deeney, Kelly Giannantonio, Janice Williams, Mayor Jerry Murphy, Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn and Mr. and Mrs. Clause.  

Plans originally included Santa in a snow globe for photos along with other activities typical for the annual Sparta Recreation Visit with Santa.  The most recent executive orders from Governor Murphy limiting indoor and outdoor crowds caused the activities to be canceled.

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According to Sparta Recreation Director Jeanne Montemarano they are expanding Santa’s ride through the community on the fire truck on the weekend of December 11 and 12, weather permitting.  In past years, Santa would take an hour to ride through town on his way to meet children and their families at Station Park. 

Additional Christmas events are being offered by the Sparta Recreation Department.

Sparta children can mail letters to Santa and Santa will mail a letter in return.  They can be sent to Sparta Recreation at 65 Main Street in Sparta.  The Recreation department staff will make sure they get to the North Pole in time for Santa to respond. They even provide stationary.

Sparta Recreation is also sponsoring a Holiday Home Decorating contest.  For the first time residents will be able to register their home for consideration. 

  • Homes must be registered by December 11
  • Between December 14 and 16 The Sparta Recreation department staff will photograph the homes that are registered.
  • On December 17 the photos will be posted on the Sparta Recreation Department Facebook page,
  • The two homes with the most “likes” will win.
  • On December 22 the winners will be announced on the Sparta Recreation Department Facebook page.

The first and second place winners will receive a prize and a sign to display on their front lawn, according to the recreation department announcement.

Montemarano said details for the Menorah lighting, scheduled for next Thursday, are also being discussed.

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