Tag: Pandemic

The Best Ways to Disinfect Your Hotel Room During the Pandemic, According to Health Experts

Travel remains complicated while the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the world, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends staying home for your own safety as well as for others. But if you do decide to travel, local laws permitting, you’ll want to take as many safety precautions as possible. This includes sanitization, even if the hotel you’re staying in has stringent protocols in place.



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a piece of luggage sitting on top of a building: How to disinfect your hotel room during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to medical experts.


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How to disinfect your hotel room during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to medical experts.

To help, Travel + Leisure turned to medical professionals for advice on how to disinfect a hotel room when checking in during the pandemic. Below, we review the steps you should take upon booking and arriving at your hotel room.

1. Communicate with your hotel and confirm cleaning procedures.

Before booking, contact your hotel, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the property’s COVID-19 cleaning protocols.

“Start by asking your hotel if they’ve had any positive cases among staff or guests, and review the COVID-19 updates on their website,” says Dr. Jack Shevel, founder and CEO of Zappogen, a distributor of hospital-grade sanitizing products. Dr. Shevel himself is immunocompromised, so he understands the importance of keeping yourself safe while traveling during the pandemic. 

He adds, “Request their sanitization and disinfection policies: Are temperature checks mandatory for everyone coming in and out? How frequently are employees tested?” He also recommends checking in remotely and using keyless room access whenever possible.

“I would also ask the hotel how long ago your room was occupied,” says Dr. Shevel. He notes that if the hotel isn’t disinfecting rooms thoroughly, allowing new guests to enter a room that was occupied less than 24 hours ago could be hazardous. Airbnb, for example, recommends a minimum of 24 hours. 

“Ask the hotel if they are disinfecting airborne pathogens via an electrostatic sprayer that uses an EPA-registered disinfectant. If hotels are taking the proper precautions, they should be disinfecting using a diffuser that sprays a mist into the air and kills airborne pathogens, as well as cleaning surfaces. If hotels are only wiping down surfaces, it isn’t sufficient to keep guests protected.”

He explains, “Disinfection has traditionally been achieved by wiping down non-porous surfaces. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is transmitted primarily by inhalation or from touching contaminated surfaces and then transferring the virus to your face and eyes. The latest studies indicate that the virus acts as an ‘aerosol’ and can remain airborne for up to 10 minutes.”

For this reason, Dr. Shevel recommends bringing your own diffuser and disinfectant to spray down the hotel room. “Ideally, you need something that kills pathogens in the air because the virus hangs in the air for long periods of time,” he says. “In addition, surfaces, floors, and porous surfaces such as curtains, fabrics, and couches need to be accounted for and disinfected.”

Before your arrival, you can also ask the hotel to remove unnecessary

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How to get a Black Friday travel deal during the pandemic

You can plan your next great escape, even in turbulent travel times. 

Hotels and cruise lines are offering Black Friday deals after the travel industry took a major blow during coronavirus shutdowns earlier this year. 

More hotels and travel booking companies are offering deals up to 75% on Black Friday with free cancelllations during COVID-19. (iStock). 

More hotels and travel booking companies are offering deals up to 75% on Black Friday with free cancelllations during COVID-19. (iStock). 

A number of budget booking websites are slashing prices of hotels and resorts across the United States and in the Caribbean. And with flexible cancellation policies during the pandemic with the uncertainty of travel restrictions amid spiking cases, experts say there’s no financial risk to booking now, even if you have to back out later. 

“Make sure to prioritize flexibility alongside price this year. Look for airline and lodging deals that have waived change and cancellation fees, should plans change,” Kelly Soderlund, a travel trends expert with travel app TripIt, tells Fox.

“Many travel providers are offering credits instead of refunds, so determine a backup plan if the trip is canceled. The financial implications of travel credits could impact the when and where of an alternative trip,” Soderlund adds. 

BLACK FRIDAY 2020: HOW TO AVOID GETTING SCAMMED 

Here are some of the smartest ways to save: 

Domestic getaways 

Budget travel booking website Expedia is expanding its sale to run five extra days this year through Dec. 1 with options like free cancellation should plans change during these uncertain times. 

The e-commerce travel platform is offering 50% off select stays and an extra 12% off select hotels and activities. The site is also alerting users to properties with enhanced cleaning protocols and free cancellation options during the pandemic. 

Luxury hotels in New York City, Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are being discounted by up to 75% off. 

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Marriott is now also offering up to 20% off stays at more than 5,000 hotels and 25% off to its Bonvoy members. The hotel chain will also give 15% off e-gift cards for future travel beginning Nov. 30 through Dec. 1 for those hesitant to commit to booking during the pandemic. 

“Check local travel restrictions and health and safety guidelines for each destination you have in mind, especially as states and countries issue localized restrictions,” Soderlund advises, adding: “It’s also a good idea to arm yourself with a plan upon arrival should anything unexpected happen after your trip has begun.” 

Beach bound international travel

CheapCarribbean.com, a site that helps users book affordable getaways in destinations like the Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, the Bahamas and Mexico, is offering up to 75% off more than 600 of its properties with beach vacations starting as low as $249.

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One deal includes a three-night stay at an all-inclusive Cancun resort priced at $405 per person including airfare at the four-star Sunscape Akumal Beach Resort and Spa. 

Cruise control 

Those itching to hit the high seas again when safe may consider a $500 credit

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Easthampton councilors wonder why Parks and Recreation Commission hasn’t met during pandemic

Published: 11/26/2020 1:46:42 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission hasn’t met for months, a development that has drawn questions from city councilors and delayed evaluation of a proposed dog park site.

The commission’s last meeting took place before the pandemic hit. Since then, members have hit snags using Zoom, the videoconferencing app used by other city boards to conduct business.

“The pandemic has presented some challenges for the commission to meet,” said Parks and Recreation Director John Mason in an email to the Gazette. “I’m hoping we have crossed that bridge.”

The commission is scheduled to meet Monday night at 6, via Zoom.

The length of time that the Parks and Recreation Commission hasn’t met came up at the City Council’s Nov. 18 meeting.

“I find it a little bit disturbing that they’ve been unable to meet in any capacity over the course of this entire COVID thing,” City Councilor Thomas Peake said.

Peake noted that people can participate in a Zoom meeting via phone.

“Do they not have phones?” Peake asked. “I would really love an explanation.”

City Council President Peg Conniff also said she would like to know why a committee hadn’t been able to meet for months.

Mason was not available by phone Wednesday to provide an explanation.

One item on the commission’s agenda that’s been delayed is evaluating a proposed dog park near Brookside Cemetery. On Monday the commission will consider allowing exploration of this site as a possibility going forward.

“We’re really just trying to develop preliminary plans,” City Councilor Owen Zaret said in an interview.

Zaret has been a champion of the idea of a dog park on city-owned land, advocating for the idea since 2018.

The city provided $9,000 in Community Preservation Act funds in February 2019 to explore sites. This was done with an eye toward applying for a grant from the Stanton Foundation, whose grants pay 100% of the cost of the design of a dog park, up to $25,000, and 90% of the “hard” construction costs of a park, which include labor and materials, up to a limit of $225,000.

Multiple sites were looked at, and a site plan and cost estimate for a site off of Oliver Street was drawn up. However, moving forward with applying for the grant for the Oliver Street site did not happen due to the council’s opposition.

That’s when Mason, around March, brought the site near Brookside Cemetery to the attention of the council.

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Nelson Toala: Stroke, pandemic changed life for Driskill Hotel cook – News – Austin American-Statesman

Up until about six months ago, Nelson Toala was the primary provider for his wife and two granddaughters.

He has worked as a cook at the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin for more than a decade, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, he was temporarily furloughed. He was hoping to return back to the kitchen, but before he got the chance, he had a stroke that left him with partial paralysis on his right side. He is unable to walk or shower on his own and his speech is not as clear.

“We were sent home from work on March 17, and since then I have had a difficult time,” Toala says. “I am head of household. I recently turned 65, and without the income, it has been difficult to maintain bills and cope with my financial responsibility.”

The change is something that is unfamiliar to Toala.

He was born and raised in Ecuador. As the son of a farmer, he grew up working on the farm before going off to college to become a pharmacist. He soon would be married and become a father of three. He has always worked to provide for his family, he says.

In 2006, when he moved from Manta, Ecuador, to Austin with his wife, Maria, 65, he says although things were challenging he did not let that stop him from doing what was expected of him — providing for his family.

“At the very beginning there were a lot of difficulties because of my age, language and culture and economic barriers,” Toala says. “That was challenging for me, but we found good programs, and the people in Austin are so giving.”

He says he started taking classes so he could learn English, and Goodwill was able to help him find a job and go back to school, but he wasn’t sure what was next for him. His pharmacist license from Ecuador would not carry over in Austin. He had to start all over.

Toala first worked at Bealls, but he needed to make more money to keep up with expenses, so he got a second job working at the Marriott. He says everyone in the hotel kitchen seemed to be in culinary school, and so he thought culinary school would be the logical next step for him as well.

While working two jobs, Toala attended part-time classes at Austin Community College’s culinary program and graduated in early 2011, about three years after taking his first culinary course.

“The language barrier was difficult, but my passion to redesign my career helped get me through it,” he says. “It took me three years because I worked two jobs, was going to school and had family responsibilities. But I did it.”

He says while he was in culinary school, Bealls had closed, and so he started applying for another second job. He would eventually land at the Driskill, working his way from a part-time breakfast line cook to banquets. In the last 14 years, he has

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Travel Insurance During Coronavirus Pandemic: What To Know

“It was a pretty quick and nimble reaction,” Mr. Sandberg of TravelInsurance.com said.

Normally, travel insurance varies by factors including the age of the traveler, destination, trip length and cost (most range from 4 to 10 percent of the trip cost). But some destinations are providing it at a flat fee, with most policies spelling out coverage limits and terms for emergency medical services, evacuation and costs associated with quarantines.

Jamaica, which will require insurance, but has not said when the new rule will go into effect, plans to charge $40 for each traveler. The Bahamas will include the insurance in the cost of its Travel Health Visa, an application that requires negative Covid-19 test results, which runs $40 to $60 depending on length of stay (free for children 10 and younger). The Turks and Caicos is offering a policy for $9.80 a day, and Costa Rica’s policies, if purchased locally, cost roughly $10 a day.

Expect this list of destinations to grow. In January, the Spanish region of Andalusia plans to require travel medical insurance and is working on finding a provider to make it easy for travelers to buy it.

Policies that cover Covid-19 as a medical event that may cause trip cancellation or disruption, or those that provide coverage for medical treatment and evacuation still don’t necessarily cover travelers who have a change of heart when they learn they will have to quarantine upon arrival, even if they don’t have the virus. Nor are policies necessarily tied to conditions on the ground, like a spike in infections, State Department travel warnings, a government travel ban or the cessation of flights to and from a destination.

For those events, there’s Cancel For Any Reason, or CFAR, an upgrade to plans that generally only returns 50 to 75 percent of your nonrefundable trip costs.

“Prior to the pandemic, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend CFAR because most of travelers’ concerns were covered by standard plans,” Ms. Barto of Squaremouth.com said. “It’s about 40 percent more expensive and we didn’t want travelers to pay for additional coverage.” Now, she added, there’s been a surge in interest in the upgrade, including in 22 percent of policies sold at the site since mid-March.

Industry experts predict some of these outstanding issues may work their way into policies of the future as they adapt to enduring realities, much as they did after 9/11 in covering travelers in case of terrorist events, which was not the norm before.

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Americans defy pandemic, political leaders to travel for Thanksgiving

(Reuters) – Americans defied pleas from state and local officials to stay home for the Thanksgiving holiday in the face of the surging coronavirus pandemic, triggering fresh warnings from health officials with the release of vaccines still weeks away.

FILE PHOTO: Roberto Arias prepares a grave for burial at Woodlawn Cemetery during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Everett, Massachusetts, U.S., May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden joined in the calls for safety, urging people to forgo big family gatherings, wear protective masks and maintain social distancing.[L1N2IB13S]

“I know we can and we will beat this virus,” Biden said in a speech delivered in a near-empty Wilmington, Delaware, theater to a handful of staffers and reporters wearing masks sitting inside socially distanced circles on the floor. Biden did not wear a mask.

“Life is going to return to normal. I promise you. This will happen. This will not last forever,” said Biden, a 78-year-old Democrat.

Deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 2,000 in a single day for the first time since May on Tuesday and hospitalizations reached a record 88,000 on Wednesday as the country recorded 2.3 million new infections in the past two weeks.

Spiraling infections typically result in a rising death toll weeks later. Coronavirus deaths reached 2,157 on Tuesday – one person every 40 seconds – with another 170,000 people infected, as millions of Americans disregarded official warnings and traveled for Thanksgiving.

Nearly 1 million passengers a day have been screened at airport security checkpoints for the past week, with Sunday’s total of 1.047 million being the highest number since the early days of the pandemic in mid-March.

‘WE WANT TO SEE THE FAMILY’

Daliza Rodriguez, a 33-year-old childhood educator, was traveling to Texas from New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Wednesday.

“We know we’re taking a risk but we want to see the family, and it has been a long time,” she said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged people to keep Thanksgiving gatherings as small as possible and stressed the need to “hang in there a bit longer.”

“If we do those things, we’re going to get through it. So that’s my final plea before the holiday,” Fauci told the ABC News program “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.

Families with university students have been forced to evaluate the risk of reuniting for Thanksgiving.

Francesca Wimer, a student at Northwestern University in Illinois, flew home to Washington wearing an N95 mask and a face shield and checked into a hotel for 14 days, quarantining to protect her parents and grandparents.

“She was returning to a vulnerable set of people. We didn’t trust that a test was enough,” said her mother, Cynthia Wimer.

Luke Burke, studying at Syracuse University in upstate New York, was planning to spend Thanksgiving with his family in New Jersey until his roommate tested positive last week.

“I’m sorry I can’t be there with my parents, but it’s the right

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Thanksgiving week air travel is expected to set a pandemic era-record despite officials calls to stay home

Thanksgiving week air travel is expected to remain strong enough to set a pandemic era-record despite urging from federal health officials to spend the holiday at home.



a group of people walking down the street: Millions of passengers have passed through US airport security in the last week, according to the TSA.


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Millions of passengers have passed through US airport security in the last week, according to the TSA.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Americans to not travel for Thanksgiving last week — but that didn’t stop more than 1 million travelers from passing through US airport security on Sunday and more than 900,000 on Tuesday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Since the CDC issued that warning, nearly 5 million people have boarded airplanes. The agency receives passenger information from the airlines as part of its screening responsibilities, and the data does not show widespread cancellations in recent days, TSA spokesman Andy Post said.

From September to October, the number of scheduled available seats departing US airports was up nearly 50% compared to the same timeframe last year. That number dropped down to nearly 39% for the Thanksgiving holiday period, according to Airlines for America, a trade association that represents major North American airlines.

Still, officials still expect Sunday — when everyone heads home from their holiday travels — to be the busiest day of travel since the pandemic began.

While the number of travelers passing through airport security on Sunday is concerning, many Americans are heeding the warnings from officials and health experts. Sixty-one percent of Americans said they changed their Thanksgiving plans, according to a poll released on Tuesday by Axios-Ipsos. More surprising is that nearly one in 10 Americans that were polled say they do not plan to celebrate the holiday at all.

The country added 172,935 new Covid-19 cases and had 2,146 reported deaths on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Tuesday also marks the fifth highest single day for new cases during the pandemic, and the US has posted over 100,000 new coronavirus cases for the 22nd consecutive day. The US is now averaging 174,225 new cases per day, which is up 11% from last week.

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Virus-killing 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 ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.



a store inside of a building: LightStrike is a UV robot that is a proven killer of the novel coronavirus.


© Bryan Glazer/AP
LightStrike is a UV robot that is a proven killer of the novel coronavirus.

Not only are airlines mandating that passengers wear masks throughout flights, but mid-outbreak travelers are also facing 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 that its robot business has increased 600 percent 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 local 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 in each direction, according to Mark Stibich, an infectious-diseases epidemiologist and chief scientific officer at Xenex.



A LightStrike robot operates inside San Antonio International Airport. (Xenex)


A LightStrike robot operates inside San Antonio International Airport. (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 a certain range.

In a test run

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Greece’s Aegean Airlines reports third quarter loss as pandemic hits travel

FILE PHOTO: An Aegean Airlines Airbus A320neo is docked at Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, in Athens, Greece, May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s largest carrier Aegean Airlines reported on Tuesday a 28.3 million euro ($33.6 million) loss for the third quarter as passenger traffic fell and aircraft were grounded during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the Greek government said it was considering a 120 million euro cash injection, subject to European Union approval, for the airline, which is seen as vital to Greece’s tourism industry.

It was the airline’s second straight quarterly loss and overturned a 90.2 million euro net profit in the third quarter of last year.

Revenue for the carrier, a member of the Star Alliance group, came in at 155.1 million in the third quarter, compared to 512.5 million in the same quarter of 2019.

A partial lifting of travel restrictions across Europe as of July allowed the gradual resumption of international flights, although several countries remained inaccessible and demand remained weak due to the pandemic, the airline said.

Aegean operated 49% fewer flights in the third quarter than in the same period of 2019 and passenger traffic fell 62%.

For the winter 2020/2021 season “renewed travel restrictions and recently lockdowns across Europe and Greece will limit our activity to levels lower than 20% of the respective 2019 period,” the airline said.

($1 = 0.8421 euros)

Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Susan Fenton

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Delta CEO gives airline workers free travel passes as thank-you for work during pandemic

After a turbulent 2020 for the airline industry, Delta is thanking employees for their work during the pandemic with free travel. 

Delta CEO Ed Bastian, in a Monday memo to employees obtained by Fox News, said they would be gifted two passes for any travel destination of their choice for their work during COVID-19. 

Delta is giving its employees two free travel passes to thank them for their work during COVID-19. 

Delta is giving its employees two free travel passes to thank them for their work during COVID-19. 
(iStock)

DELTA POSTS $4.5 BILLION LOSS AS CORONAVIRUS BATTERS AIRLINE INDUSTRY 

“I hope these passes will help with your own healing as we move into the future, whether it’s to connect with family, experience a brand-new part of the world, or embark on an adventure with a loved one,” Bastian said in the memo. 

“Those of you who have worked consistently throughout the crisis have done so under conditions that were unimaginable a year ago,” Bastian wrote, “and you still provide the best service and professionalism in the industry.”

Bastian went on to note the thousands of Delta employees who took voluntary unpaid leaves of absence to save airline jobs. Those who continued working and those who took a leave in 2020 will receive the free travel passes, which do not expire. 

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With travel restrictions implemented during the pandemic, Delta lost $5.38 billion in the third quarter with passenger volume down more than 70 percent compared to the same quarter in 2019. 

Still, the Atlanta-based airline was able to prevent furloughing its flight attendants and frontline workers, unlike some of its competitors, such as American and United.

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Airlines have been urging Congress to fund additional relief to the struggling industry during the pandemic. The industry has so far received $25 billion in aid under the CARES Act to save aviation industry jobs.

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