Tag: Pandemic

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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Westlake resident plans “micro” events for hotel customers during the pandemic

WESTLAKE, Ohio – Everyone has had to make adjustments in their lives during the pandemic. Some of the adjustments have been big such as unemployment. Other adjustments have been smaller such as getting used to wearing a mask.

But then other adjustments can now be termed “micro” and a Westlake resident seems to have become the queen of making those adjustments work for many people.

Nicole Bakker calls her efforts “micro event experiences.” Don’t call her an event planner.

She works for both the Kimpton Schofield Hotel at the corner of East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland as well as their restaurant, Betts, that is open on the ground floor of the hotel.

“I work for both the restaurant and the hotel. I am the only employee working for both, not just catering, but involving all departments and employees–and their guests,” she said.

Bakker noted she has an extensive background in hospitality.

“I have been in hospitality pretty much my whole life. I have worked from the kitchen to the front of the house to event planning, to marketing to social media to weddings to corporate and even to in-home—doing personal or corporate events in backyards for anywhere from five to 3500 people.

Her mission is clear and certainly takes a lot of planning and creativity but she said people are beginning to come back now to celebrate the times of their lives.

“I have some interaction with every person coming through the door and they are all celebrating something,” she said. “Now the people are re-scheduling and they just want to celebrate and make it happen. The picture from earlier in the year is gone. Everyone who walks into the hotel is really excited to be here. It’s gotten a lot more lively and people are more thankful to be celebrating.”

What, specifically, is important to them now?

“Quality,” she said. “That makes all the difference now. Due to the pandemic, people know what they want.”

But there has been one big change and that’s what Bakker does best.

“All things are much more intimate now, smaller, more personal, with groups up to only about 50 people,” she said.

Are they disappointed to not have more?

“No, they were disappointed in March but now they are grateful they can get out and celebrate. They have more appreciation for more intimate events and the purpose of the event. I hear it all the time. ‘It’s only going to be our closest friends and family,’ and they are happy about it. They are grateful to just be out.”

Bakker said it is not 60 people for brunch now, but only 10, “With people they really want to celebrate with.” This is the definition of micro events.

It doesn’t seem those planning an event in this unusual time could go wrong at the Kimpton Schofield/Betts Restaurant. Experience, understanding and enthusiasm are their outstanding calling card.

For more information on the hotel and/or the restaurant visit https://www.theschofieldhotel.com/ or call (216)

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Sunday saw the most travelers pass through US airports since the pandemic began as Americans bucked CDC warnings against Thanksgiving travel



a group of people in a room: Travelers at New York's LaGuardia Airport. AP Photo/John Minchillo


© Provided by Business Insider
Travelers at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. AP Photo/John Minchillo

  • Over 1.1 million travelers flew on Sunday, breaking a record for pandemic travel for daily passengers not seen since March.
  • Thanksgiving was largely successful in getting more flyers in the air as over 15 million passengers flew between November 19 and November 29, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against Thanksgiving travel but over a third of Americans told Insider that the guidance didn’t change their plans. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Transportation Security Administration is reporting that a record-breaking 1,176,091 passengers traveled by air on Sunday, likely returning home after the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s the first time since March 16 that daily traffic numbers have been that high.

Thanksgiving encouraged more people to fly following a lackluster summer for airlines, TSA statistics show. The days leading up to the family-oriented holiday that typically draws scores of flyers to the skies similarly saw passenger numbers exceed one million.

From November 19 to November 29, nine days saw over 900,000 passengers, four of which saw over one million passengers for a total of 10,381,904 passengers. The same period in 2019 saw 25,898,477 passengers.

It took airlines seven months to get back to one million passengers in a single day with October 18 seeing 1,031,505 flyers pass through security checkpoints at US airports. The day quickly proved to be an outlier, however, as it took another month and a popular travel holiday for the daily passenger count to rise back to similar levels.

The influx of passengers comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against non-essential travel. Large gatherings allow for the virus to spread from person to person, especially when attendees are in close proximity, such as around the dinner table. 

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An Insider poll of 1,110 Americans found that over one-third didn’t plan on changing their holiday plans, despite CDC warnings, and the increase in traveler numbers around the holiday clearly reflects that. 

The Thanksgiving holiday itself didn’t see as many travelers with only 560,902 flyers. That’s to be expected, however, as most holiday-goers typically fly on the days leading up to and following the holiday itself.

The next busy holiday travel rush will surround the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. This time, however, planes will be more crowded as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways are filling their aircraft at higher levels than during the Thanksgiving travel period.

Southwest Airlines will allow its planes to be filled to capacity on December 1. The low-cost carrier had blocked seats over the summer, as Business Insider found on two June flights on the airline, but announced an end to the policy in October citing new Harvard University and US Department of Defense studies

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Thanksgiving Draws Travel to a Pandemic Peak

The weekend after Thanksgiving met expectations that it would be the busiest travel period in the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic began, aided by clement weather and lower gas prices that encouraged some to drive rather than fly.

Almost 50 million people were expected to have made a journey during the Thanksgiving holidays, said AAA, despite tightening local clampdowns and warnings from federal health officials. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 19 recommended people not travel over Thanksgiving.

The number of travelers from Nov. 25 through Nov. 29 was down more than 10% from a record set last year, according to AAA, which includes flights and road trips of more than 50 miles. Airlines, which boosted capacity earlier in the month only to trim flying when cancellations started to climb in recent weeks, said traveler numbers were in line with their revised expectations.

The Transportation Security Administration said that its workers screened more than 964,000 people on Saturday, down 37% from a year earlier, and more than a million on Nov. 25, the busiest flying day since March. TSA said that it expected screenings on Sunday to be higher than that.

Travel flows were helped by the lack of winter storms that blighted travel last year, triggering thousands of scrubbed flights in the Northeast and on down the East Coast. Only around 200 flights were scrubbed across the country over the weekend, with the total number of flights down by around a half from a year ago.

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Is it safe to stay at a hotel during the coronavirus pandemic?



text, website: Coronavirus Tips Hotels


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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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The year of no vacation: Take time off during a pandemic? Workers say, ‘Why bother?’

Most years, Zelia Padilha tries to take one big vacation, a trip she can plan for and look forward to. This year, the destination was going to be Italy.

“For a brief period of time, we even considered going.” She laughs a little as she says it. That was early on in the pandemic, before anybody understood the sort of year that lay ahead.

She and her husband moved to Oakland from Brazil a year ago, and they also hoped to get out, see the country. Instead, she canceled all those plans and has spent the year becoming a “terrible workaholic.” Never mind vacations, now Padilha — like many others working from home — struggles to take any time off at all.

“I’m almost all the time at my work computer,” Padilha said. “Home just becomes the office nonstop. There’s no more boundaries; you’re always available.”

For a considerable chunk of the workforce, 2020 is turning into the year with no vacation. According to one survey by the Robert Half Staffing agency, more than a third of American workers are more burned out this year than last. Another survey, by the same firm, found 7 in 10 remote workers aren’t taking weekends off and are letting workdays bleed well beyond 8 hours. At least a third of respondents said they were planning to take less time off this year than in 2019.

Padilha likes her job at a branding agency. She’s thankful for it. And it’s nice to have something to keep her mind off “the whole world burning.”

“But I feel like at some point when you’re dreaming about work…”

There are lots of stories like Padilha’s. Albert Flor and his family didn’t have any big travel plans for 2020, but they did have a trip to Southern California scheduled for the end of March. His oldest child is a senior in high school. They were going to check out some colleges and hit Legoland.

Instead Flor, a lawyer, started working from his Oakland home on March 3. Since then, he said, he’s taken a total of two weekday afternoons off. There’s not much point in taking time off during a pandemic.

“I just wonder what I would do, and what is permissible,” he said. “If we were to go somewhere, I’m not comfortable eating at a restaurant. And then a lot of the wandering around, a lot of the joy of that is kind of taken away.”

“I had all kinds of things planned,” said Heather Christenson, a digital librarian who lives in Berkeley with her two children. “2020 was going to be my year.” Instead, her schedule was completely upended. Not only was her job as in demand as ever — with libraries closed, people were desperate for digital resources — but her day was full of new tasks, like waiting hours in a long line of cars to pick up textbooks for her kids outside the high school. Then it was home to make dinner and

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Iconic Vienna hotel turns to drive-in cake as pandemic bites

The coronavirus pandemic may have forced many of Vienna’s luxury hotels to close indefinitely as global travel restrictions keep away the many millions of tourists who usually visit the Austrian capital every year.

But the city’s iconic Hotel Sacher is determined not to let fans of its world-famous chocolate cake go hungry.

The hotel’s concierge, Uwe Kotzendorfer, is selling “Sacher Torte”, as the rich delicacy is known, on a drive-in stand just across the road from Vienna’s prestigious State Opera house.

“I do a bit of everything now,” says Kotzendorfer, standing next to a small two-wheel cart stacked high with cakes, as he hands an imperial red bag containing one of them to a customer driving past in his BMW.

“I thought it was a fantastic idea,” says another customer, Claudia Bednar.

“Because we can no longer travel, I am going to send one to my aunt in Germany for her 65th wedding anniversary,” she explains, then pays for the cake, which typically costs between 50 and 60 euros ($60 to $71), with her credit card.

The vast majority of the Sacher’s staff are now on government-subsidised furlough.

And the rooms and dining halls in the six neoclassical buildings — decorated with autographed images of previous guests such as Britain’s Prince Charles, Franco-German film star Romy Schneider and US opera singer Jessye Norman — are deserted.

Nevertheless, the hotel insists on displaying fresh flower arrangements in honour of the five business travellers currently staying there.

For those parts of the hotel not currently occupied, the management is taking the opportunity to carry out some much-needed maintenance, and Kotzendorfer often guides workmen around the deserted swathes of the building.

– Past crises –

According to owner and managing director Matthias Winkler, the Sacher is the last five-star hotel in Vienna that is still in family hands.

The hotel has survived a number of existential crises in the past and during the global economic cri...

The hotel has survived a number of existential crises in the past and during the global economic crisis in 1934 event went bankrupt

ALEX HALADA, AFP

But it has survived a number of existential crises in the past and during the global economic crisis in 1934 event went bankrupt.

“We’ve gone through many trials since the creation of the brand and our family is still planning for the long term”, said Winkler, who took over the hotel from his mother-in-law in 2015.

The current virus-induced economic downturn is also taking a heavy toll.

International travellers typically account for more than 90 percent of the hotel’s annual 23,000 overnight stays, with rooms costing anything between 400 and 2,300 euros ($480-$2,700) per night in the low season.

However, with the virus lockdowns, that source of income has now been all but wiped out.

Sacher’s cakes, which are shipped and sold across the world, are helping keep the brand alive.

Although competition in the upscale hotel industry can be ruthless and international brands have larger financial resources, Winkler believes that being family-run is turning out to be an advantage during the pandemic.

“Here, decisions are made at a

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Why are there vacation rental permits during a pandemic? | Letter

After reading the Nov. 18 story “An Interview with Vacation Rental Work Group Vice-Chair,” I was surprised to discover that the county is still accepting vacation rental applications.

Yes, accepting, processing and approving them in the midst of the deadliest pandemic of the last century. While numerous health officials, civic leaders and politicians are advising us not to travel for the holidays, the county is issuing permits for more visitors to come here. Does that strike you as odd? It’s as if I just stumbled into some sci-fi horror flick where the virus has turned county workers into COVID-loving zombies. How can this be?

Maybe I am being unfair. Maybe they aren’t COVID-loving. Maybe the county is just, you know, in a rut. Inertia/bureaucracy can make it difficult for local governments to respond to fast-moving threats. That, I suppose, is the kind of explanation.

Another explanation involves money. Follow the money. Does VR make the islands a better place to live? No. Does VR make the islands a safer place to live? No. Does VR help with affordable housing? No, just the opposite. So, who stands to profit from VR? Off-island owners/investors profit but who profits locally? Realty companies who gain commissions from the sale of properties and then from the management of the VR property. As Lisa Byers puts it, “an economic engine.”

Mark Heacox

San Juan Island

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Robot zaps airport viruses as pandemic travel picks up

The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in an era of distinctive travel experiences for those going against expert guidance to stay at home for Thanksgiving.

Not only must passengers wear masks throughout flights, but they also face innovative gadgets meant to combat the coronavirus, though the efficacy of some is questionable, according to epidemiologists.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Some airports, such as Los Angeles International, have installed thermal imaging cameras to scan for fever symptoms, while airlines such as United have installed touchless kiosks, enabling passengers to keep their hands clean while checking in.

As air travel gains some steam and coronavirus-related shutdowns return in pockets of the country, one of the latest iterations of virus-fighting tech at the airport is a germ-zapping robot at San Antonio International Airport in Texas. It’s called LightStrike, and other airports are considering whether to invest in the $125,000 device that has been shown to be effective against the coronavirus. Some airports are watching to see whether travel improves over the coming weeks, according to officials at Xenex, the company behind the device.

“When you bring something like SARS-CoV-2 into focus, institutions like hotels, airlines, professional sports teams, they’re looking for what’s best-in-class to kill it,” said Morris Miller, CEO of Xenex.

Xenex says its robot business has increased 600% amid the pandemic. Most of the increase is related to the health care industry, but the robot also has entered new markets such as hotels, professional sports facilities and police stations.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Initially developed for use in hospitals and recently picked up by a school district in Texas, LightStrike is 43 inches tall, about the size of a wheelchair, and has to be pushed along by an operator to reach targeted areas.

The high-tech plug-in pushcart uses powerful bursts of UV light to combat viruses on surfaces within a seven-foot radius, according to Mark Stibich, an infectious-diseases epidemiologist and chief scientific officer at Xenex.

It’s been known for decades that UV radiation can destroy viruses by chemically altering their genetic material. However, different pathogens are susceptible to UV light at varying wavelengths. Many traditional UV devices use low-intensity mercury bulbs, which means they may take longer to kill organic material such as viruses. By contrast, LightStrike robots have a powerful xenon UV-C light source capable of damaging the DNA and RNA of viruses in a matter of minutes.

When plugged in, the machine stores up a charge and releases the UV light in quick, pulsating bursts that also happen to be gentler on surfaces than continuous UV rays generated by mercury, according to Xenex. The device is not safe for use on humans, and the company built in a motion sensor, so the robot automatically turns off if a person comes within range.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

In a test run at San Antonio-based Texas Biomedical Research Institute, the robot destroyed the coronavirus in two minutes. It has also

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Grand Strand vacation rental property bookings see holiday week increase despite pandemic

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – If it has felt bit busier along the Grand Strand this holiday week to you, you may be right.



a house with trees in the background: Rental home in North Myrtle Beach. (Source: WMBF News)


© Provided by Myrtle Beach-Florence WMBF-TV
Rental home in North Myrtle Beach. (Source: WMBF News)

Grand Strand vacation rental property bookings have seen an increase this holiday week despite the COVID-19 pandemic, or maybe because of it.

Amid calls from public health officials to forgo large family gatherings this Thanksgiving holiday due to the ongoing pandemic, the Grand Strand is seeing an increase bookings of vacation rental properties.

Results of a recent survey from the Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism at Coastal Carolina University show reservations of vacation rental properties along the Grand Strand from Nov. 21 to Nov. 27 are up more than 5% compared to the 2019 Thanksgiving week.

According to the survey, 65.2% of area vacation rental properties were booked for this past week compared to 59.7% for last year’s Thanksgiving week, which fell from Nov. 23 to Nov. 29.

Researchers with the Center for Resort Tourism added with the weather predicted for this weekend, average occupancy may be near or above 70%.

The increase in bookings hasn’t just come this week.

While year-over-year hotels have seen a slight dip in occupancy over the six-week period ending Nov. 14, vacation rental properties have seen a drastic 77% jump in use over the same time period, according to survey data.

Hotels, condo-hotels and campsites on the other hand have not seen as many visitors, with average occupancy dropping 2% and average daily rates dropping just over 9% during the same six-week period compared to 2019.

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