Tag: COVID

Largest Spike in Air Travel Since March Reported Day Before Thanksgiving as COVID Hospitalizations Reach All Time High

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported its largest spike in air travel since March 16 on Wednesday as millions of Americans took to the skies the week of Thanksgiving.



a group of people wearing costumes: Holiday travelers pass through Los Angeles international Airport on Thanksgiving eve as the COVID-19 spike worsens and stay-at-home restrictions are increased on November 25, 2020, in West Hollywood, California. According to the TSA’s records, more people traveled on Wednesday than on any other day since March 16.


© David McNew/Getty
Holiday travelers pass through Los Angeles international Airport on Thanksgiving eve as the COVID-19 spike worsens and stay-at-home restrictions are increased on November 25, 2020, in West Hollywood, California. According to the TSA’s records, more people traveled on Wednesday than on any other day since March 16.

The number of air travel passengers reported over the last week is significantly lower than the number reported a year ago, however, as health officials across the U.S. continued to warn Americans to avoid travel and other activities that could lead to further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Despite the warnings, the TSA pointed Newsweek to records that show 1,070,967 individuals passed through agency checkpoints at airports across the U.S. on Wednesday. The last time the TSA’s number of reported travelers exceeded that number was on March 16 when 1,257,823 people traveled by air. States began announcing stay-at-home orders in response to the pandemic three days later.

There have been only four days since March 16 when the agency’s records show that more than one million people passed through TSA checkpoints on a single day, including Wednesday and two other days in the last week. In contrast, the TSA regularly recorded more than two million people on average travel days last year. The difference in air travel during the week of Thanksgiving between this year and 2019 represents a decline of about 60 percent, according to the Associated Press.

As of Thursday, November 26, more than 12.7 million people across the country had been infected with COVID-19 since the pandemic began and more than 262,000 people died after contracting the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University’s data tracker. The number of reported cases in the U.S. has been steadily rising in recent weeks, with the tracker showing more than 1.2 million new cases reported in the last week alone. More Americans were also receiving treatment for COVID-19 in hospitals this week than at any other time since the pandemic began, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Through The Years

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As the number of new infections continued rising, health care professionals throughout the U.S. have been sounding the alarm about what rising numbers of COVID-19-related hospitalizations will mean for hospitals, many of which are already struggling to meet their needs in terms of supplies, staffing and space for patient care.

In anticipation of a post-Thanksgiving surge, government officials at the local and state levels have spent the bulk of this month warning Americans to avoid travel and to limit their exposure to individuals with whom they do not live. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a set of guidelines for Thanksgiving celebrations and Thanksgiving travel, which include wearing a mask while around others, practicing social distancing, becoming familiar with

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Denver Mayor Flies to Texas for Thanksgiving After Urging City Residents to Avoid Travel Due to COVID



Michael Hancock wearing a suit and tie: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock participates in a panel discussion during the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 'Infrastructure Week' program May 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. Hancock boarded a fight on Wednesday despite warning Denver residents to avoid traveling over Thanksgiving.


© Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock participates in a panel discussion during the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Infrastructure Week’ program May 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. Hancock boarded a fight on Wednesday despite warning Denver residents to avoid traveling over Thanksgiving.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock boarded a flight to Houston on Wednesday after urging city residents to avoid travel due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in Colorado.

Moments before boarding the plane to Texas, Hancock tweeted “avoid travel, if you can,” “stay home as much as you can,” and “host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners” in a Thanksgiving post about slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

His spokeswoman confirmed to NBC affiliate KUSA on Wednesday that the mayor was traveling to visit his daughter in Mississippi, and that his wife was already there.

Hancock has said his family will be foregoing a large gathering this Thanksgiving, writing in an email to city staff that for his family, coronavirus precautions “means cancelling our traditional gathering of our extended family.”

COVID-19 Pandemic: Where Coronavirus Cases And A Vaccine Stand After 2020 US Election

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“As he has shared, the Mayor is not hosting his traditional large family dinner this year, but instead traveling alone to join his wife and daughter where the three of them will celebrate Thanksgiving at her residence instead of having them travel back to Denver,” the mayor’s spokesperson told KUSA.

Hancock’s assistant advised that he would be out of office from Wednesday to Friday, according to an email obtained by the network.

In an email to city staff, Hancock wrote: “As the holidays approach, we all long to be with our families with person, but with the continued rise in cases, I’m urging you to refrain from travel this Thanksgiving holiday.”

He also said anyone who travels out of state for the weekend should self-isolate for 14 days, including himself.

“Upon return, he will follow all necessary health and safety guidance and quarantine,” the mayor’s spokesperson said.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Denver. Last week, the city entered Colorado’s Level Red severe risk category. According to Denver Public Health, the city has reported 33,971 confirmed cases and 494 deaths as of Wednesday.

At a news conference with Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Hancock said: “We need everyone to stay home.”

During a Tuesday briefing, Polis said that one in 41 Coloradans is currently infected with COVID-19, the highest figure the state has seen since the pandemic began in March.

Hancock is the latest public official to face backlash for traveling ahead of Thanksgiving despite encouraging constituents to do the opposite.

Earlier this week, New York

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Travel Insurance Sales Rocket As Americans Ignore COVID Advice for Thanksgiving

An unlikely boom is happening in the U.S. travel insurance industry as people seeking holiday cheer are paying against the odds to protect their Thanksgiving trips.



a person standing in front of a window: A warning for travelers flying during the pandemic is posted at O'Hare International Airport on November 24, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Despite airports expecting fewer than half the number of travelers from last year's Thanksgiving holiday, this is still expected to be the busiest travel period since March when the COVID-19 pandemic became widespread in the United States.


© Scott Olson/Getty Images
A warning for travelers flying during the pandemic is posted at O’Hare International Airport on November 24, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Despite airports expecting fewer than half the number of travelers from last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, this is still expected to be the busiest travel period since March when the COVID-19 pandemic became widespread in the United States.

Data from insurance comparison website Squaremouth published by Reuters showed a 170 percent jump, compared with the same period in 2019, in the number of insurance plans bought for U.S. domestic Thanksgiving trips.

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Although overall numbers of travelers were down by around half from a year ago, in excess of 3 million people passed through U.S. airports over the weekend.

Squaremouth said the number of people seeking cover had increased 26 percent on last year.

The volume of people travellng runs at odds with advice from public health professionals. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, told CBS News that people traveling for the holidays “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now”.

The U.S. has hit almost 13 million coronavirus cases to date, and with a second wave threatening to overwhelm health services, daily death tolls have hit their highest levels since early May.

The Squaremouth data, which is based on all travel insurance policies purchased on its website between March 12 and November 9, said among those searching for cover, 40 percent of all Thanksgiving travelers specifically looked for COVID-19 cover. In previous years primary concerns were weather and financial defaults.

The data comes alongside a poll showing that people living in states which voted for President Donald Trump in the election are on average more likely to dismiss COVD-19 guidelines and celebrate Thanksgiving with people from outside their households, according to a survey.

A poll conducted by data and survey firm Dynata at the request of The New York Times found that Louisiana and Oklahoma are the top two states where people said they intend on mixing households over the holiday period, with 35 percent stating they will. South Carolina was third on 34 percent.

The results found that the entire top 10 states in which people are more likely to eat Thanksgiving dinner with those outside their own household all voted for Trump. Alabama, Tennessee, and Indiana are fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, followed by Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina and Kansas.

Although worrying in terms of public health, greater willingness to travel could be a bright spot for one sector. The numbers suggest a change in mood in the travel market, as widespread lockdowns have caused a dearth in demand for both domestic flights and foreign holidays.

Data released this week by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows the airlines sector has suffered a $118 billion net

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Covid in Scotland: Travel restrictions and vaccine hope

Welcome

Copyright: Getty Images

Good afternoon and welcome to BBC Scotland’s rolling coverage of
the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland this Friday, 20 November 2020.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be delivering an
update shortly at the Scottish government’s daily briefing, starting at 12:15.

Ms Sturgeon will be joined by national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch.

You can follow the latest developments right here and watch or
listen live by clicking on one of the tabs above – for coverage on BBC One
Scotland, the BBC Scotland channel or BBC Radio Scotland.

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Your employer can make you use your vacation/sick time due to COVID

You go to work. You wear your mask. You wait away from others and you wash your hands. You still get COVID or a coworker does and you’re at risk. Can your employer require you to use your sick leave or vacation time? Yes and no.



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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA requires only certain employers are required to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded medical leave due to COVID-19.

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Covered employers are public or private employers with fewer than 500 employees and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt. This means employers with 51 to 499 employees are covered under this special sick leave, but the rest are not.

“The government thought employers who had more than 500 employees would provide sick leave to their employees without facing hardship.  The government wanted those large employers to do the right thing, whether they do, that’s up to them,” said Nicole Patino, an attorney at The Law Office of Fred T. Hamlet.

A viewer asked 2WTK this week:

Please look into employees being sent home for COVID issues and not being paid!!!!!! Or being made to use vacation time.

Patino says if the business is closed for cleaning due to COVID the employer may be able to require the employee to use their vacation time or unpaid time.   

In North Carolina, if a facility is closed, let’s say due to bad weather, employees who are not salary would not be entitled to pay under the law.

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Can your boss make you use sick leave or vacation time for COVID?

Only certain employers are required to give sick time under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — You go to work. You wear your mask. You wait away from others and you wash your hands. You still get COVID or a coworker does and you’re at risk. Can your employer require you to use your sick leave or vacation time? Yes and no.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA requires only certain employers are required to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded medical leave due to COVID-19.

Covered employers are public or private employers with fewer than 500 employees and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt. This means employers with 51 to 499 employees are covered under this special sick leave, but the rest are not.

“The government thought employers who had more than 500 employees would provide sick leave to their employees without facing hardship.  The government wanted those large employers to do the right thing, whether they do, that’s up to them,” said Nicole Patino, an attorney at The Law Office of Fred T. Hamlet.

A viewer asked 2WTK this week:
Please look into employees being sent home for COVID issues and not being paid!!!!!! Or being made to use vacation time.

Patino says if the business is closed for cleaning due to COVID the employer may be able to require the employee to use their vacation time or unpaid time.   

In North Carolina, if a facility is closed, let’s say due to bad weather, employees who are not salary would not be entitled to pay under the law.


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Complaints about travel to Australia’s consumer watchdog rose 500% during Covid

Australia’s consumer watchdog has received more than 24,000 complaints about travel this year – an increase of 497%, according to a report about the impacts of Covid-19 on fair trading.



a close up of a fence: Photograph: Patrick Foto/Getty Images


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Photograph: Patrick Foto/Getty Images

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which previously confirmed that Flight Centre, Qantas and Etihad had been subject to complaints, said it was clear customers had found it difficult in some cases to receive refunds after travel was cancelled because of the pandemic.

“The economic disruption from Covid-19 has led to a huge volume of varied and complex consumer law issues,” the ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Common misconduct we’ve received complaints about during the pandemic includes businesses misleading consumers about their right to a refund, or deducting cancellation fees from refunds when there is no contractual basis to do so.”

According to the report, customers of Virgin Australia and STA travel also contacted the commission after the companies went into administration.

Related: Trivago loses appeal after misleading Australian consumers over cheap hotel deals

Among the complaints received by the commission were airlines not refunding flights or only providing credits, a cruise operator only providing credits (or a refund if the credit had not been used within two years), and accommodation providers not refunding or crediting bookings that had to be cancelled because of domestic travel restrictions (or charging a fee to receive credit).

Australians are not automatically entitled to refunds if cancellations occur because of government restrictions, the commission said. It depended on the terms and conditions of the booking.

“We decided early on that the best way we could help consumers was to educate businesses about their legal obligations and resolve issues quickly and efficiently, rather than taking court action,” Court said.

“We announced some cases such as Flight Centre, Qantas and Etihad, where we worked with those businesses to improve their treatment of customers, but we’ve been doing a lot of other work behind the scenes with dozens of travel businesses to get refunds and other remedies for customers who had their holiday plans dashed.

“The ACCC is very conscious of the fact that many businesses have struggled to process cancellations and respond to consumer queries as they have reduced staff capacity and are struggling to stay afloat.”

The commission said it had also performed engagement, compliance and education initiatives with more than 60 businesses from industries including live performance and ticketing, fitness and gymnasiums, online selling platforms, professional sports and food suppliers to resolve consumer issues.



a building with a metal fence: Travel disruption due to Covid led to more than 24,000 complaints to Australia’s consumer watchdog in 2020.


© Photograph: Patrick Foto/Getty Images
Travel disruption due to Covid led to more than 24,000 complaints to Australia’s consumer watchdog in 2020.

Other large increases in complaints related to sport and recreation (up 134%), fuel retailing (121%) and insurance (104%).

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Covid stimulus help for desperate ICU nurses is urgent. But Congress is on vacation.

I have been an ICU nurse for 17 years. I never thought I’d leave. Now I’m not sure I’ll ever go back.

I’ve been on the front lines of Covid-19 since it broke out eight months ago. More than 250,000 people have now died in the United States. Case numbers are rising in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. And health care workers like me are burning out.

I’m exhausted. I’m angry. I’m sick of watching patients die. I’m tired of comforting families feeling guilty over the birthday party that cost their loved one’s life.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump spends his weekends golfing, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent the Senate home for Thanksgiving vacation a day early, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just advised against holiday travel.

I wish medical workers could take vacation days, too. I ran out of those months ago, when I contracted Covid-19 treating patients in the ICU. I’m exhausted. I’m angry. I’m sick of watching patients die. I’m tired of comforting families feeling guilty over the birthday party that cost their loved one’s life.

I finally hit my breaking point and recently quit doing direct patient care in a hospital setting. Without sufficient personal protective equipment and staffed hospital beds, a national plan for testing and sufficient relief for those hardest hit by the virus, including hospitals, I didn’t have the strength to continue.

Janet Campbell-Vincent clad in her PPE.Courtesy Janet Campbell Vincent

A lot of my colleagues are hitting their breaking points, too, and that could lead to a mass exodus from the profession. Americans worry about their local grocery stores’ running out of paper towels and toilet paper. Just imagine how much more worried they’ll be if their local hospitals, overwhelmed by surges of Covid-19 patients, run out of nurses.

Our leaders have left it up to medical workers to save American lives, but they’ve denied us the resources to do so. I can’t fathom why they’re on vacation when there is so much work to do.

Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, are trying to negotiate a stimulus bill based on the updated HEROES Act that the House passed in October. This legislation would fund a national testing plan to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and increase capacity in hospitals. It would also give states funds for protective equipment and adequate staffing in front-line occupations. But instead of voting on this before the holidays, our lawmakers have left town.

Trump, McConnell and other Republicans must get back to work and meet with the Democrats to pass a coronavirus relief package as soon as possible. They also need to step up their counteroffers to Democrats on what a Covid-19 stimulus package will look like. Until now, Republican counteroffers have been much smaller — more like $500 billion to the Democrats’ $2 trillion-or-so proposal — and not nearly enough to deliver meaningful relief for medical workers. Though the

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Complaints about travel to Australia’s consumer watchdog rose 500% during Covid | Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

Australia’s consumer watchdog has received more than 24,000 complaints about travel this year – an increase of 497%, according to a report about the impacts of Covid-19 on fair trading.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which previously confirmed that Flight Centre, Qantas and Etihad had been subject to complaints, said it was clear customers had found it difficult in some cases to receive refunds after travel was cancelled because of the pandemic.

“The economic disruption from Covid-19 has led to a huge volume of varied and complex consumer law issues,” the ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Common misconduct we’ve received complaints about during the pandemic includes businesses misleading consumers about their right to a refund, or deducting cancellation fees from refunds when there is no contractual basis to do so.”

According to the report, customers of Virgin Australia and STA travel also contacted the commission after the companies went into administration.

Among the complaints received by the commission were airlines not refunding flights or only providing credits, a cruise operator only providing credits (or a refund if the credit had not been used within two years), and accommodation providers not refunding or crediting bookings that had to be cancelled because of domestic travel restrictions (or charging a fee to receive credit).

Australians are not automatically entitled to refunds if cancellations occur because of government restrictions, the commission said. It depended on the terms and conditions of the booking.

“We decided early on that the best way we could help consumers was to educate businesses about their legal obligations and resolve issues quickly and efficiently, rather than taking court action,” Court said.

“We announced some cases such as Flight Centre, Qantas and Etihad, where we worked with those businesses to improve their treatment of customers, but we’ve been doing a lot of other work behind the scenes with dozens of travel businesses to get refunds and other remedies for customers who had their holiday plans dashed.

“The ACCC is very conscious of the fact that many businesses have struggled to process cancellations and respond to consumer queries as they have reduced staff capacity and are struggling to stay afloat.”

The commission said it had also performed engagement, compliance and education initiatives with more than 60 businesses from industries including live performance and ticketing, fitness and gymnasiums, online selling platforms, professional sports and food suppliers to resolve consumer issues.

Other large increases in complaints related to sport and recreation (up 134%), fuel retailing (121%) and insurance (104%).

Source Article

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COVID passports emerge as key to restarting international travel

Global airline lobby IATA is working on a mobile app that will help travelers demonstrate their coronavirus-free status, joining a push to introduce so-called COVID passports as vaccines for the disease near approval.

The Travel Pass will display test results together with proof of inoculation, as well as listing national entry rules and details on the nearest labs, the International Air Transport Association said Monday. The app will also link to an electronic copy of the holder’s passport to prove their identity.

A test program will begin with British Airways parent IAG SA this year before arriving on Apple devices in the first quarter and Android in April, IATA said. Travelers will be able to share their status with border authorities or present a QR code for scanning.

Qantas Airways said Monday a COVID-19 vaccination will be a necessity for its international passengers. Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce told Channel 9 in Australia he has discussed the idea with other airlines, and it’s likely to become a preboarding requirement around the world.

“It’s going to be a common theme across the board,” Joyce said.

While international travel remains in the doldrums amid a patchwork of local restrictions and lockdowns, countries are beginning to embrace testing to shorten or do away with quarantines for arriving passengers. The first vaccines are meanwhile expected to become available in coming months. That’s prompted a spate of technology-led moves to devise mechanisms to monitor travelers’ COVID credentials and combat false claims from people desperate to fly.

IATA’s head of passenger and security products, Alan Murray Hayden, said in a briefing that the group’s aim is to get people into the air again and that it would be happy to work alongside other providers.

Travel Pass will be free to travelers and governments, with airlines paying a small fee per passenger to use the service. It will be based on the existing IATA Timatic system long used to verify documents. The app will use blockchain technology and won’t store data, Murray Hayden said.

The industry group has had positive discussions with one government around using the software and expects other nations to get on board, he said.

Though IATA’s plan remains in development, the CommonPass app developed by the World Economic Forum and nonprofit Commons Project Foundation has been tested on flights between London and New York, while the AOKpass from travel security firm International SOS is in use between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan.

Both are in the running for the pending travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore, according to the companies.

United Airlines, which is conducting the U.S.-U.K. trials, said Monday it would extend coronavirus testing to flights from Houston to destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Passengers can take a self-collected, mail-in test, allowing them to start their vacation or meetings immediately on arrival.

The race is on to establish a global standard and deploy technology so the travel industry can get back on its feet, International SOS co-founder Arnaud Vaissie said

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