Tag: Coronavirus

How bad is the coronavirus pandemic about to get? Thanksgiving travel numbers look grim

Coronavirus infections are already reaching unprecedented levels throughout the U.S. Now with Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror and Christmas and New Year’s just around the curve, the question is: Just how much worse is the pandemic going to get?

The latest travel data out Monday suggest that things are looking grim. Between 800,000 and 1.1 million people flew in the days leading up to and after the holiday, according to data released by the Transportation Safety Administration. Though those numbers are a fraction of typical Thanksgiving travel patterns, they are far higher than public health officials and epidemiologists hoped to see.

Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said that Americans who traveled this past week should “assume that you were exposed and you became infected.” She urged those that traveled to get tested within the next week.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topped 200,000 for the first time Friday. There have been more than 265,000 deaths. Last Wednesday, as millions had already begun their holiday travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast as many as 21,400 new deaths due to the virus over the next four weeks.

Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, said he suspects those numbers are not high enough.

“Every time I look at the data, it’s worse,” he said.

Jha says he expects the number of new deaths to be more in the range of 25,000 to 30,000 in the Thanksgiving aftermath.

“Things are going to be so bad over the next month,” Jha said.

Exactly how bad it will get is difficult to say. Americans not only flew, but also drove to Thanksgiving celebrations. Before the holiday, the American Automobile Association predicted significant declines in bus, train and cruise travel, but only a slight drop in car travel. AAA said it would not have travel figures for the holiday anytime soon.

Car travel was projected to fall 4.3% from last year’s pre-pandemic level, to 47.8 million travelers. With less travel this year by public transportation, AAA estimates driving will account for 95% of all holiday travel. On Monday, AAA said travel may have been less than initially forecast because of climbing infection rates and public health warnings. U.S. gasoline demand decreased 7.3% in seven days ending Nov. 28, according to GasBuddy, the travel and navigation app.

Even with a surge in online sales, some Americans still hit the road to shop. Chains with lines out the door included Lululemon Athletica Inc., Bath & Body Works and Urban Outfitters. Shoppers camped overnight in some locations of GameStop Corp., one of the few retailers to do brick-and-mortar releases of new video game consoles.

“This does have the potential to turn into another superspreader event,” Doug Stephens, founder of consulting firm Retail Prophet, said of the shopping weekend.

The Trump administration had been sending out widely varying guidance on holiday travel in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and only in the final week did the

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After Thanksgiving travel, Washington region braces for coronavirus rise

While it could be weeks before the region sees the effect of Thanksgiving travel, Bowser on Monday pointed to a nationwide jump in cases that is still being felt in the nation’s capital. She reminded residents to adhere to city travel guidelines, which call on those who visit a “high-risk” state to limit activities for 14 days when returning to the city. Residents and visitors can also get tested within three to five days of arriving and self-monitor for symptoms until receiving a negative test result.

“We expect that we’re going to have more cases,” Bowser said. “We’re also in a good position to do a lot of testing. We have a very robust testing program which we feel strongly will help us identify and isolate people who have been infected by covid.”

The seven-day average of new daily infections across the greater Washington region on Monday was 4,662, down slightly from a high of 4,989 recorded on Thanksgiving Day.

The region recorded 3,920 new coronavirus cases and 20 deaths on Monday. Maryland added 1,923 cases and 16 deaths, Virginia had 1,893 cases and four deaths, and D.C. recorded 104 cases and no additional deaths.

Neil J. Sehgal, an assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Maryland, said it could be weeks before spikes in cases are seen that stem from Thanksgiving holiday travel. Health experts had long cautioned residents to avoid traveling over the traditionally busy period — and also to avoid hosting gatherings at home.

“With the public attitude we saw towards travel over Thanksgiving, it’s very hard to think we won’t see an impact,” Sehgal said. “Cases will undoubtedly increase in the D.C. region.”

Maryland health officials said Monday a child died Sunday of the coronavirus, becoming the pandemic’s youngest victim in the state. Officials didn’t release the child’s age, saying only that the victim was 9 or younger. No other information was available about the child or the nature of the death.

As caseloads continue to jump, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) wrote Monday to President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, saying the state’s top priority is another wave of stimulus funding to help with the coronavirus fight.

Hogan, who has advocated for more federal funding since the spring, told the transition team that small businesses, as well as state and local governments, need money soon. Many state and local governments, which are unable to carry a budget deficit, face significant shortfalls as tax revenue declines and price tags rise for the public health response to the pandemic.

“States are already fighting an uphill battle to rebuild our economies and maintain services in education, health care, emergency operations and public safety,” Hogan wrote. “Without federal assistance, we could be forced to consider furloughs and job cuts, halts to construction, reductions in government services, and other measures that will cause an increase in unemployment and further delay the economic recovery.”

Hogan’s request comes as officials across the region make similar pleas for additional federal

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Coronavirus: Merkel slams state premiers over Christmas hotel opening plan

Chancellor Angela Merkel railed against the plans of some regional governments to let hotels open for family visits over Christmas, warning it risked worsening the coronavirus surge sweeping Germany, participants in a party meeting said.

Infection levels rose overnight compared to the same time last week, despite the partial lockdown introduced for November and since extended and tightened in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.

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Merkel and state premiers agreed last week that some partial easing of the lockdown would be allowed to allow families some low-key Christmas celebrations.

But in a video conference of her conservative party’s top leadership on Monday, Merkel said she could not understand the plans of some northern and western states, where the epidemic is less severe, to allow hotels to open to allow far-flung families to get together.

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Meeting participants told Reuters she saw this as particularly risky in large cities and in regions with high infection numbers.

Despite Merkel’s comments, however, the regional leaders have the final say on what happens in their states under Germany’s federal structure.

Her intervention came shortly before a meeting of the “coronavirus cabinet”, at which ministers are expected to discuss further responses to Germany’s greatest public health crisis in a century.

Though Germany has already mobilized unprecedented government aid to help support the economy through the pandemic, ministers warned on Monday that nothing could fully spare companies from the impact.

Read more:

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“People have to show discipline,” economy minister Peter Altmaier, the architect of the economic response to the pandemic told Deutschlandfunk radio. “We have to do more to reduce social contacts.”

Altmaier added that pandemic aid for companies could not be extended indefinitely.

In an indication of the severity of the pandemic’s economic impact, the percentage of companies using the state-backed furlough scheme rose to 28 percent in November, up from 24.8 percent the month before, the Ifo institute said.

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Last Update: Monday, 30 November 2020 KSA 20:16 – GMT 17:16

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Experts warn of coronavirus surge after widespread Thanksgiving travel

The US continued to report more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the holiday weekend, as experts warned that widespread Thanksgiving travel could fuel a surge in the coming weeks.

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Related: Moderna Covid vaccine has 94% efficacy, final results confirm

The number of new Covid-19 cases reported in the US topped 200,000 for the first time on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Since January, when the first infections were reported in the US, the total number of cases has surpassed 13m. More than 265,000 people have died.

There was some good news on Monday, as Moderna said it would apply for US authorisation to use its coronavirus vaccine. The company announced final results from its trial, which it said confirmed 94% efficacy.

Moderna’s data will be weighed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 17 December. The company said it expected to have doses for 10 million people ready for the US by the end of December. Pfizer and BioNTech submitted an application for emergency use on 20 November.

News of Moderna’s progress came as the number of hospitalisations in the US reached a record high.

According to the Covid Tracking Project, 93,238 patients were in hospital on Sunday, a steady climb from 47,531 at the start of November, putting more strain on workers and resources as winter approaches.

Despite dire warnings from federal authorities including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of Americans traveled over the weekend, as Thanksgiving drew to a close.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that could cause a spike in cases and warned that the level of infection in the US would not “all of a sudden turn around”.

“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Fauci told NBC on Sunday.

Fauci said it was “not too late” for people traveling home after Thanksgiving to help curb the virus by wearing masks, staying distant from others and avoiding large groups.

Between 800,000 and more a million travelers made their way through US airport checkpoints each day in the past week, according to Transportation Security Administration statistics, as airports recorded their highest travel numbers since the pandemic began.

Wednesday was the busiest air travel day since mid-March, with 1,070,967 passengers clearing airport security, the Washington Post reported. In the early days of the pandemic, daily totals fell below 100,000 on some days.

The impact of mass travel and Thanksgiving gatherings could mean a flood of new cases just before Christmas.

“When you look at people who are hospitalised today, they were infected two weeks ago, maybe more,” Dr Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN. “And then it takes usually another week for folks to succumb to the illness.”

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Southwest airlines COVID-19 coronavirus family upset BWI Airport

They had $1,600 in airline credits set to expire despite government warnings against holiday travel.

WASHINGTON — It was supposed to be a February getaway for Howard Van and his family to relax after the birth of his second son, Vincent. He bought airplane tickets for himself, his wife Yok, Vincent and his older son Jason, and his sisters-in-laws Amy and Yann Ly.

The family was supposed to fly on Southwest Airlines from BWI Airport to Tampa, Florida. But days before they were supposed to leave, and just as coronavirus was hitting the United States, Howard and his wife got sick with a fever and chills.

Van worried the couple might have contracted coronavirus, but said there was no way to know at the time.

“We had all the classic symptoms,” Van said. “But we will never know we had it or not because we there was no testing available to the general public at that time.”

Van says he was just trying to do the safe and responsible thing by canceling the trip.

“For us as a family and for other passengers on that flight,” he said.

Southwest issued the Van family travel credits for the cost of the plane tickets worth roughly $1,640. The travel credits were set to expire on December 20, 2020. 

But with COVID cases surging around the country, Howard said there was no way to use the travel credits, especially since his wife and sister in law Yann are both front line health care workers and have been asked by their employers not to travel.

So, Van called Southwest and asked for an extension to use the travel credits.

Because of their current policy, they were unable to grant me that request, which was very disappointing for us,” Van said. “And it became almost like a financial ticking time bomb as the deadline was approaching.”

That Southwest policy says only travel credits issued on or after March 1 of this year can be extended. Van asked customer service to make an exception, posting his appeal to Southwest Airline’s CEO, Gary Kelly, on the company website.

Van wrote, “The current Southwest policy is hurting front line medical professionals during a time when they are sacrificing the most to keep everyone safe.”

But according to a screenshot of that conversation provided by Van, Southwest wouldn’t budge. A customer service rep wrote back: “We’re sorry for any disappointment surrounding the fare rules…ya’ll choose to purchase.”

Van said the best Southwest told him they could do was charge him $100 per ticket to extend the travel credit deadline, meaning he could sink another $500 into a trip he didn’t know when his family could safely take. Or lose the $1640 in airfare altogether.

“And for our family, that’s a lot of money,” Van said. “That’s money we could use to buy groceries, invest in our college funds or buy Christmas presents for our kids.”

Howard wrote to WUSA9 and asked for help. So, Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Flack

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Hoboken Cancels Winter Recreation Programs Amid Coronavirus

HOBOKEN, NJ — The city of Hoboken said Sunday that they have decided to “indefinitely postpone” all city-run recreation programs for the winter amid coronavirus.



a sign on the side of a building: Christmas wreaths for sale near Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken on Saturday.


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Christmas wreaths for sale near Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken on Saturday.

“As we continue through the next stage of the second wave, and with cases surging in New Jersey, we have made the difficult decision to indefinitely postpone all city-run recreation programs for the winter, including all indoor sports and flag-football,” wrote Mayor Ravi Bhalla in an update on Sunday. “We have seen some recent COVID-19 cases coming from recreation leagues, and given the expected increase in cases, we feel it would be irresponsible from a health perspective to continue with indoor sports where social distancing is not practical.”

The mayor also announced new testing options citywide, including for the coming week.

“I encourage any resident who gathered over Thanksgiving or the weekend with multiple families outside the household, traveled or received visitors who traveled from outside the tri-state area, or attended a large gathering of any kind, to get tested this week,” he said. “Since the virus has been proven to spread among those who are asymptomatic and the increased chances of transmission in group and indoor settings, I encourage those residents also avoid contact with others and quarantine whenever possible until after receiving test results.”

The Hoboken Health Department recommends a COVID-19 test at least 5-7 days after the latest potential exposure.

On Sunday, ABC News reported that “Some Hoboken bars [were] packed” on Saturday night. They said that in many, social distancing was in effect and “masks were everywhere,” but added, “some Hoboken bars were looking a little too pre-covid” with people sitting close together and windows “fogged up.”

Testing this week:

  • A new testing partner, ivee, is hosting COVID-19 testing this Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Multi-Service Center, 124 Grand S. Testing is open by appointment to both Hoboken residents and Hoboken business employees. PCR testing is offered, with results anticipated within 48-72 hours. Sign up: https://calendly.com/iveecovid/ivee-x-hoboken-covid-19-testing-clone-1
  • Dr. Islam and the Prompt MD staff are providing testing on Monday, 8 a.m. to 3, Thursday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Friday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 605 Jackson St. PCR testing is offered, with results anticipated within 48-72 hours. http://www.hobokennj.gov/promptmd
  • Dr. Raj Brahmbhatt and the Riverside Medical Group staff are continuing to provide COVID-19 testing six days a week, at the new location uptown, by appointment to Hoboken residents only. Rapid testing is offered, with results provided within 15 minutes. See our story and details here and see general testing information below.
  • State of New Jersey: The State Department of Health, in partnership with the City of Hoboken and Hoboken Housing Authority, is providing testing for residents at 221 Jackson St. (community room) on Friday, between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Testing is open to all residents and business employees. No appointment is needed, and testing is available on
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Is it safe to stay at a hotel during the coronavirus pandemic?



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Coronavirus Tips Hotels

  • Staying at a hotel during the coronavirus pandemic can be safe, but only if you do your homework before making a reservation.
  • It’s important to ask the hotel if they have a capacity limit on guests. It’s also important to ask how often rooms are turned over to new guests.
  • Coronavirus infections are on the rise across the country and experts fear we’ll see a huge increase in deaths and hospitalizations within the next two to three weeks.

Even though the CDC and health experts advised people against traveling this holiday season, the reality is that many people chose to ignore said warnings. And to be fair, some people didn’t even have much of a choice with respect to traveling home for the Thanksgiving holiday. As a prime example, many universities are exclusively resorting to remote learning for the rest of the semester. The end result is that millions of college students had no choice but to pack up their belongings and head home this week.

If travel is an inevitability — and for some, it truly is — adhering to coronavirus safety guidelines is paramount. For some people, this might mean social distancing and eating outside. For others, especially for those visiting people who are in a risky demographic, this might entail quarantining in a hotel for a few days before heading home. This, of course, begs the question: how safe are hotels when it comes to effective coronavirus prevention?

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Unfortunately, there isn’t an all-encompassing answer to this question. In short, the answer varies from hotel to hotel. Whereas many hotel chains have adopted very stringent and enhanced cleaning procedures, other hotels are taking fewer precautions.

The reality is that hotels by their very nature can carry a lot of risk given that they can often see hundreds of guests come and go within a short timeframe. Of course, with people traveling less, hotels today are clearly seeing less foot traffic than ever before. That being the case, you’ll want to review a particular hotel’s mission statement when it comes to coronavirus safety procedures before making your reservation.

As a prime example, Marriott was quick to implement a number of cleaning procedures to lessen the risk of coronavirus transmission:

In public spaces, the company has added to its already rigorous cleaning protocols, requiring that surfaces are treated with hospital-grade disinfectants and that this cleaning is done with increased frequency. In guest rooms, Marriott has added to its detailed cleaning practices, requiring all surfaces to be thoroughly cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectants. The company will also be placing disinfecting wipes in each room for guests’ personal use.

These new enhanced cleaning technologies including electrostatic sprayers to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel. We are using air purifying systems that are effective against viruses in the air and on surfaces…

To help alleviate the risk of COVID-19 transmission through person-to-person contact, Marriott will be

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Fauci warns of ‘superimposed’ coronavirus surge after Thanksgiving travel

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert, warned that the travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday could lead to a “superimposed” surge in Covid-19 cases as the nation heads into December.

Appearing on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday, Fauci said that public health officials “tried to get the word out for people, as difficult as it is, to really not have large gatherings” during the holiday due to concerns that the celebrations could exacerbate the coronavirus spread.

“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” he said.

“I don’t want to frighten people except to say it’s not too late at all for us to do something about this,” he added, urging Americans to be careful when they travel back home and upon arriving, and to take proven steps like social distancing and wearing masks.

It can sometimes take two weeks for infected people to develop symptoms, and asymptomatic people can spread the virus without knowing they have it. So Fauci said the “dynamics of an outbreak” show a three-to-five-week lag between serious mitigation efforts and the actual curbing of infection rates.

While the first wave of vaccinations could start in America within a matter of weeks, Fauci said that, for now, “we are going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family that we are in a very difficult time, and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would have liked to have done, particularly in this holiday season, because we’re entering into what’s really a precarious situation.”

Covid-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. have been accelerating in recent weeks — there have been more than 4 million cases and 35,000 deaths attributed to the virus in the month of November alone. Overall, America has had 13.3 million coronavirus cases and 267,000 deaths attributable to the virus, according to NBC News analysis.

Despite a mid-November warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraging Americans not to travel during Thanksgiving, air-travel broke pandemic records, with 6.8 million people traveling through airports in the seven days ahead of the holiday.

The already accelerating caseload, combined with the potential for another surge of cases, comes as hospitals across the country are sounding the alarm about overloading the system’s capacity.

Fauci said that he is concerned about the nation’s hospitals, noting that he received calls last night from colleagues across the country “pleading for advice” amid the “significant stresses on the hospital and health care delivery systems.”

While he explicitly said he was not calling for a national lockdown, Fauci said at the local level, Americans could “blunt” the surge’s effects on the hospital system by taking mitigation steps “short of locking down so we don’t precipitate the necessity of locking down.”

The surge in cases comes amid promising news about a coronavirus vaccine, with both

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Coronavirus vaccines may help travel recover, but it may take years to fully rebound, experts say

  • Forty-nine percent of travelers would be willing to travel after a proven Covid vaccine is released, a recent study found.
  • Many travel industry insiders urge caution but do think a rebound could be in sight should mass vaccination prove effective.
  • While personal practices like mask wearing and social distancing may fade with time, other industry wide changes introduced during the pandemic will likely prove durable.



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As news of several effective Covid-19 vaccines offers some light at the end of the tunnel that is 2020, will a beleaguered travel and tourism industry — one of the hardest hit by the pandemic — soon begin to recover?

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Possibly, say sources, but they caution that travel may take years to fully rebound and, no matter the timing, will likely look different than it did pre-pandemic.

“The news of a potential vaccine does hold promise for travel in 2021,” said Julie Hall, spokeswoman for AAA. “But … travelers need to be focused on knowing the risks of traveling and exposure in the here and now.”

Brian O’Connell, analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com, takes an even more measured stance. “I’m just not bullish on travel for the first half of 2021 – even if a vaccine is mass produced in that timeframe,” he said. “Caution is the watchword, as the vaccine will take months to be fully distributed in the U.S. and abroad.”

Kayak.com CEO Steve Hafner said he thinks “people are taking more a wait-and-see approach … until one of these vaccines gets out there.”

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However, the online travel agency did see a spike in searches — if not purchases — right after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced 95% efficacy for its Covid vaccine on Nov. 10. The next day, searches were up 27% compared to the week prior, he said, but settled into a “more modest” 6% weekly growth rate in the days that followed.

Still, Hafner said the increased searches are good sign.

“I’m very optimistic that once these vaccines get distributed, people’s perceptions around travel are going to change toward the positive,” he added.

“I’m hopeful it comes by the second quarter [of 2021], knock on wood,” Hafner said, of a rebound in travel. “If we’re really lucky, we’ll see it in the first quarter.”

A survey of 4,300 customers earlier this year by travel insurer Allianz found that 49% would travel again given a proven vaccine. Meanwhile, 42% said the go-ahead from public health officials would suffice.

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“[The] promise of a highly effective vaccine is good news for the tremendous pent-up demand for travel, and should provide another reason for consumers to feel more confident booking trips for 2021,” said Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications at Allianz. He said he expected that luxury and experiential trips will be

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Indoor recreation businesses say they’re crucial for mental, physical well-being | Coronavirus

Operators of places for indoor activity impacted by the governor’s COVID-19 regulations say their operations are essential for the physical and mental well being of the public.

Craig Rhodes, a managing partner for Kingpin Lanes in Springfield, said they were closed during the lockdown this spring, allowed to open for a few months and then closed down again.

“A, we’re in the league bowling season which is the best season for us and going into the holidays where we pick up quite a bit of extra income and foot traffic for the holidays which is not just difficult, but difficult timing as well,” Rhodes said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker last Monday imposed prohibitions on indoor service at bars and restaurants statewide, and capacity limits on retail operations. Indoor recreation, like bowling, is prohibited.

Rhodes said he’ll be keeping a close eye on the numbers, and if there aren’t declines from all the closures, there need to be some explanations.

“If there’s no change and everyone’s closed, obviously there’s something else if afoot,” he said. “We would certainly demand to have some answers based on those numbers.”

Rhodes said while some don’t consider bowling essential, it is to his employees and to his clientele’s physical and mental well being.

For gyms, there can’t be any group exercises and locker rooms are closed under the governor’s rules. In Springfield, FitBodies owner Chris Schmulbach said he’s gone from group classes to open gym. He also said he doesn’t recommend masks.

“I can’t force them to wear masks, so I guess I’ll take the heat and deal with it from there and see what happens,” Schmulbach said.

Corynne Cooper, the general manager of a fitness facility in Chicago, will be following the guidelines to the letter.

“If [Pritzker] says masks, it is masks,” Cooper said. “If it’s not steam rooms and saunas, it’s no steam rooms and saunas. If it’s no locker rooms, it’s not locker rooms. We’re not trying to cut any corners.”

Both said keeping their facilities open is crucial to the physical and mental health of their clients.

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