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US air travel hits a pandemic-era high over Thanksgiving holiday

More people passed through US airport security checkpoints on Sunday than on any other single day since the coronavirus pandemic cratered air travel, according to the Transportation Security Administration.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: SEATAC, WA - NOVEMBER 29: Travelers pass through security screening at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on November 29, 2020 in SeaTac, Washington. Public health experts warn that COVID-19 cases may surge following holiday travel, as the U.S. surpasses 4 million cases so far this month. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)


© David Ryder/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
SEATAC, WA – NOVEMBER 29: Travelers pass through security screening at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on November 29, 2020 in SeaTac, Washington. Public health experts warn that COVID-19 cases may surge following holiday travel, as the U.S. surpasses 4 million cases so far this month. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

TSA said it screened 1.17 million people on Sunday when many Americans were heading home from their Thanksgiving travels. That was 41% of the 2.9 million people screened by TSA on the same day in 2019. Thanksgiving 2019 set a TSA record.

That means more than 9.4 million people have been screened in the Thanksgiving travel window, which began on the Friday before the holiday.

Since the pandemic gutted air travel in mid-March, checkpoints have screened more than one million passengers on only five days. Four occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday period.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against Thanksgiving travel, fearing families mingling would spread the virus.

Public health officials this weekend recommended those who did travel for Thanksgiving should quarantine themselves and get tested for the coronavirus as cases surge nationwide.

White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Sunday she is “deeply worried” Thanksgiving travel will cause another virus spike.

“We know people may have made mistakes … over the Thanksgiving time period,” she said in a Sunday interview on CBS. “If your family traveled, you have to assume that you are exposed and you became infected and you really need to get tested in the next week.”

Airlines have argued travel on an airplane is very safe — safer than being in many other public spaces — because of hospital-grade air filtration and ventilation that regularly replaces air in the cabin.

But there has been less study about other parts of the air travel experience — including crowded airport lines and shuttle buses.

And then there’s the risk of spread when travelers arrive at their destination.

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Clinton House hotel, High Street, Clinton

Mike Elfland
 
| Telegram & Gazette

On Nov. 15, 1869, Mark Twain had a speaking engagement in Clinton. The event took place in the meeting hall next to the Clinton House, a downtown hotel.

The writer and humorist spent the night before his speech in one of the rooms. His account of the visit paints it as an adventure.

“Here I am in a hotel – the Clinton House – & a villainous one it is – shabby bed, shabby room, shabby furniture, dim lights – everything shabby & disagreeable,” he wrote, according to “Mark Twain’s Geography,” a website that details Twain’s world travels. He once filled Mechanics Hall in Worcester.

The Clinton House, at High and Church streets, was favored by industrialists and visiting salesmen, many tied to the booming carpet/weaving industry.

It was the Bigelows who were behind the construction of the hotel in the mid-1840s.

Brothers Erastus Brigham Bigelow and Horatio Bigelo are recognized as the town’s founding fathers, who settled in what was then Lancaster and set about to making advances in looming. Erastus Bigelow was among the founders of MIT, in 1861. The town of Clinton was incorporated in 1850.

The Clinton House opened in 1847, capped by a mansard roof. A separate grand hall, called Clinton Hall, which would later host Twain, was added to the property three years later. Eventually, the hall and hotel were connected. 

Clinton Hall became the center of the town’s social world. There were balls, lectures, school events and military gatherings.

The Clinton Historical Society lists a lineup of esteemed lecturers at Clinton Hall, besides Twain: Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Julia Ward Howe and Frederick Douglass.

The Clinton House and Clinton Hall remained key figures in the downtown landscape for decades. A fire in the early 1920s gutted the block, and the buildings were eventually leveled. 

A theater and a brick building, with space for retail, offices and apartments, was eventually built on the corner – called the Wachusett Block. For many years, the block was anchored by the Paper Store. More recently the spot is home to Zaytoon restaurant. 

Thanks go to the Clinton Historical Society for its assistance with this story. The group’s Twitter page is filled with photos of yesteryear Clinton.

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COVID New York: Concerns high with busiest travel day expected Sunday

NEW YORK (WABC) — Sunday could be the busiest travel day since the coronavirus pandemic began, causing concern for local leaders and health officials.

The majority of travelers will be heading home from the Thanksgiving holiday and that means another very busy day for airports among COVID concerns.

Nationwide, 6 million people flew to a destination for Thanksgiving.

The Port Authority reported half a million people passing through their airports and reported screening more than 800,000 people on Friday alone.

Even so that’s a decrease of more than 70% compared to the same five-day period last year when more than 1.7 million air travelers passed through Port Authority’s facilities.

RELATED | Illegal club with nearly 400 people inside shut down

While masks were required, social distancing on airplanes and through security lines was very tough to do.

That could potentially assist rising COVID rates in New York and around the country.

This comes as the state’s rolling positivity rate is just shy of 4%, but given the increased out of state travel a further spike is expected.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has required all people coming back from holiday travel to quarantine for three days until they can get tested.

Of course a test was required before they left, however, officials are still expecting a further spike in numbers with all the post-Thanksgiving weekend travel.

If you are flying back into New York’s airports on Sunday, you may find the National Guard waiting for you.

MORE NEWS: “COVID tested” flights to take off from JFK, Newark airports next month

New York state is requiring all travelers coming in to fill out contract tracing forms upon landing at your destination and where you plan to quarantine or face up to $10,000 in fines.

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TSA: Thanksgiving eve passenger numbers high, but less than 2020

A spokesperson for the TSA also said that Wednesday numbers of passengers screened at checkpoints nationwide were at the highest volume since mid-March.

The Transportation Security Administration said early Thursday that Thanksgiving eve passenger numbers at checkpoints across the United States were at just under half of what they were on Thanksgiving eve last year.

As the pandemic slows air travel around the globe, additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seems to have possibly made holiday travelers hesitate even more this year before taking a flight.

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the CDC recommended that people reconsider travel this year and avoid large gatherings of 10 or more.

TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein announced that as of Thanksgiving eve, on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the TSA had screened 1,070,967 people at checkpoints nationwide. That number comes in at less than half that of last year when, according to the TSA, 2,602,631 people were screened at checkpoints across the country on Thanksgiving eve. 

Despite this, 2020’s Thanksgiving eve passenger numbers were still at the highest volume since March 16, according to the TSA. The agency noted that this is only the 4th time that passenger numbers this year have topped 1 million since March 16.

RELATED: Defying warnings, millions in the US travel for Thanksgiving

RELATED: Reports: CDC looks to shorten COVID-19 quarantine period

RELATED: In pandemic era’s isolation, meaning of ‘self-care’ evolves

RELATED: Airline may require passengers to get coronavirus vaccine before overseas travel

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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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American Airlines (AAL) Hurt by Low Travel Demand & High Debt

We recently issued an updated report on American Airlines Group Inc. AAL.

Sharp drop in air-travel demand is hurting passenger revenues, which contribute majorly to the top line. The carrier incurred a loss in each of the first three quarters of 2020, mainly due to the 64.2% drop in passenger revenues in the first nine months of 2020.

Long-haul international capacity is estimated to be down nearly 75% in the final quarter of 2020. Moreover, with the spike in coronavirus cases in the United States, the company witnessed further softness in demand.

The company’s total debt-to-total capital ratio stood at 1.2 at the end of the third quarter, higher than its reading of 1.11 at the end of the June quarter. This implies that a company is highly leveraged with more risk of insolvency.

Nevertheless, low fuel prices are helping American Airlines partly offset the adversities. Evidently, average fuel cost per gallon (on a consolidated basis: including taxes) declined 25.4% to $1.55 in the first nine months of 2020. With major part of the fleet remaining grounded/under-utilized, fuel gallons consumed declined 49% in the first nine months of 2020, thereby driving the bottom line.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

American Airlines currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Some better-ranked stocks in the broader Zacks Transportation sector are Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. KNX, FedEx Corporation FDX and Herc Holdings Inc. HRI. All the stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Long-term expected earnings per share (three to five years) growth rate for Knight-Swift, FedEx and Herc Holdings is pegged at 15%, 12% and 12.6%, respectively.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Hotel developers vow to bring forward ‘more modest’ plans for old Royal High School building in Edinburgh

Proposed extension to the historic Royal High School on Calton Hill sparked huge controversy.
Proposed extension to the historic Royal High School on Calton Hill sparked huge controversy.

They have revealed that a “more modest” proposal for an “arts hotel” would be brought forward for the A-listed building, after plans which would have seen two multi-storey extensions created, were thrown out.

Despite pledges that more than 250 full-time jobs would have been created, the hotel project was rejected by ministers on the grounds that there would have been “considerable damage to the setting of one of the most important neoclassical buildings in the city.”

The move will dismay campaigners against the luxury hotel plans and backers of an alternative scheme which would see the building become the new home of an independent music school.

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The building has been lying empty for more than half a century. Picture: Scott Louden

It will dash hopes that work will be able to get underway as early as next year on the rival scheme, which is being bankrolled by American arts philanthropist Carol Grigor, and already has planning permission from the city council.

The local authority, which is believed to be tied into its lease agreement for a hotel development for another two years, has yet to decide how to proceed in the wake of the government upholding the council’s rejection of the designs for the £75m Rosewood hotel, which was predicted to deliver a £75m boost to the citys economy, for a second time.

The Cockburn Association, the city’s long-running heritage watchdog, has called on the council to end its “contractual relationship” with the developers soon as possible and for the developers, Urbanist Hotels and Duddingston House Properties to “step aside” to allow the proposed relocation of St Mary’s Music School from the city’s west end to proceed.

However Taco van Heusden, co-founder of Urbanist Hotels, has called on the city council – which agreed to lease the building to allow it to become an “arts hotel” 10 years ago – to prioritise “jobs and investment” on the site rather than embark on “long procurement delays.”

Councillors have already backed plans to turn the Old Royal High School in Edinburgh into a new music school and concert hall.

He claimed that the hotel school was rejected on the grounds of the impact of the two “wings” on either side of the existing building and suggested that the proposed music school scheme would involve the “careless destruction of internal fabric” of the historic site.

Posting on social media, he said: “We will put forward a more modest arts hotel proposal that fits the now established parameter.

“Scale was established more than four-five years ago, inevitably things do change. Detailed proposals will come in due course.

“In these times especially, Edinburgh needs jobs and investment not years of new procurement process.

“The council also needs to be released from its £250,000 annual maintenance cost for the old Royal High School. There are much better ways to

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Beach towns see high demand for vacation rentals

Emma Dill
 
| Wilmington StarNews

This year has been a rollercoaster for many of those who manage rental properties in the beach towns that dot the coastline of Southeastern North Carolina. 

COVID-19 hit the United States in mid-March, just when rental properties tend to see an uptick in spring break bookings. Instead, many saw cancellation after cancellation.

Temporary state and local bans on short-term rentals appeared to doom the rental season before it began.

But when bans lifted, people rushed to reserve vacation rentals. Reservations have remained steady for local rental companies throughout the summer and into the fall.

Watching the vacation rental season ‘fall apart’

For Ian Kraus, a property and reservations manager at Intracoastal Vacation Rentals in Wrightsville Beach, the cancellations began streaming in mid-March.

Kraus estimates he handled 450 cancellations this spring. That’s unheard of. 

“I’ve never been anywhere close to that,” Kraus said.

The initial uncertainty surrounding the pandemic led to the flood of cancellations that seemed to threaten the rental season.

“People were cancelling, not coming, trying to reschedule,” said Jessica Elliott, the marketing director at Sea Scape Properties in Wrightsville Beach. “This whole time, we’re just seeing our whole season fall apart.”

Early in the pandemic, short-term rentals were banned by state and local restrictions. For more than a month, vacationers could not rent apartments or houses in several coastal towns near Wilmington.

But when those restrictions lifted in mid-May on Topsail Island, bookings flooded in, said Chris Rackley, the president and broker-in-charge at Lewis Realty Associates. 

“We ran around 100% occupied from late May on into mid-September,” Rackley said.

In a typical year, rentals run 100% occupied during peak summer months. This is the first time that the company has been 100% occupied that far into the fall, Rackley said. 

‘We’re working at home anyway, why not come to the beach?’

The demand for rental properties was not unique to Topsail Island. In coastal towns throughout Southeastern North Carolina, short-term rentals have been booming this year despite the pandemic.

Demand, which typically begins to fall off when school begins in mid-August or early September, has continued through October at some rental agencies.

Why? Some property managers believe the shift to working from home and virtual learning have something to do with it.

Kraus said visitors are looking to rent larger spaces, which means they might be vacationing with their families.

“The two and three bedrooms are always going to be a lock-in. That’s the perfect size for a smaller group,” he said. “But this year we’re getting a lot more looking for three, four, five bedrooms.”

Many renters have told the property managers that at-home work and school played a role in their decision to come to the coast.

An internet connection has also become increasingly important for this year’s renters.

“If the Internet went out in the home, it was a dire emergency,” Rackley said. “That kind of tells the story.”

The first question prospective clients often ask Kraus when calling to

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GA high school principal, wife drown in Puerto Rico

A Georgia community is mourning the loss of a Fulton County principal who died while vacationing in Puerto Rico.

Westlake High School principal Jamar Robinson and his wife, AnnMari Robinson, drowned while swimming in the ocean behind their hotel early Sunday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, citing local media outlets.

A Puerto Rican outlet reports the couple was on the beach behind the La Concha Resort in San Juan when “a whirlpool and currents of water allegedly drag(ged) the woman, and her partner (came) to her aid — both dying in the incident.”

Locals in the area tried rescuing the couple but it was too late, according to the news site. Life-saving efforts by paramedics were also unsuccessful.

“Mr. Robinson was an inspirational leader who brought joy with his passion for education and his students,” Fulton County Schools said in a statement obtained by McClatchy News. “We join the community in remembering him and expressing our condolences to his family. School leadership and support staff are at the school to support students, teachers and staff. This support is also being provided remotely to students.”

News of the couple’s passing began circulating online Tuesday, and, in an email to students, Westlake administrators announced a switch to online learning “due to the tragic death of a staff member,” according to CBS46. Robinson was not named in the memo.

Condolences poured in as the community received confirmation that Robinson and his wife had died.

“I’m at a complete lost [sic] of words this morning, upon hearing of the passing of Westlake High School Principal Jamar Robinson and his wife this past weekend,” State Rep. William Boddie, D-Georgia, wrote on Facebook. “Principal Robinson was a Good Man and a Great Educator. Westlake High School continuously had high academic performance scores year after year. I will keep the entire Robinson and Westlake High School Families in my Prayers and Thoughts.”

Westlake assistant football coach Matthew Van Dusen lauded Robinson as an “amazing and passionate leader who loved Westlake and would do anything for its teachers and students.”

“Heartbroken by the news of Mr.Robinson,” a Westlake alum wrote on Twitter, adding: “That man showed Class of 2017 so much love!!! May him and his wife souls Rest In Peace.”

Robinson graduated from Southwest DeKalb High School in DeKalb County before earning his bachelors in psychology from Florida A&M University, according to his bio on the Fulton County schools website. He would go on to earn advanced degrees from Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University.

The former teacher was known for showing love to his students and honoring Westlake’s 2020 graduates with an electronic billboard display on the highway earlier this year.

AnnMari Robinson

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High Point Parks & Recreation kicks off holiday fun with boat parade | Community

Veterans Day

Washington Terrace Community Center (101 Gordon St.) will host a drive-thru Veterans Lunch on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Lunch is free to the first 50 veterans who drive up. For more information, call 336-883-8599.

The Roy B. Culler, Jr. Senior Center (600 North Hamilton St., High Point) is offering a drive-thru Veterans Breakfast on Friday, Nov. 13 from 9–10 a.m. Call to 336-883-3584 to register.

Piedmont Environmental Center

PEC (1200 Penny Road, High Point) will offer Fall Leaves Sensory Hikes (ages 15+) on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 9–11:30 a.m. and Saturday, Nov. 14 from 9–11:30 a.m. Learn about a few of the Piedmont area’s many trees as you experience a guided hike with a PEC naturalist on the trails of the nature preserve. We will look for fall color, crunch some leaves and listen to the wind. This family sensory hike immerses you in the feeling of fall – sounds, sights, smells and textures.

On the Fall Leaves Family Hikes (ages 5+) on Tuesday, Nov. 17 from 9–11:30 a.m. and Saturday, Nov. 21 from 9–11:30 a.m., participants will learn more about the common types of trees we see in the Piedmont. A quiet walk on the trail to experience the sounds, smells, sights and feelings of fall and a simple craft will complete the experience.

Cost for each hike is $3 per person; call 336-883-8531 to register.

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