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Thanksgiving Travel Data Point to Surge in Covid Infections and Deaths

(Bloomberg) — 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.



a group of people standing in front of a building: Airline Travelers Ahead Of The Thanksgiving Holiday


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Airline Travelers Ahead Of The Thanksgiving Holiday

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the U.S. may be about to see “a surge upon a surge.” On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” 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.

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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.

“Everytime 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.



a busy street filled with lots of traffic: Traffic Ahead Of The Thanksgiving Holiday


© Bloomberg
Traffic Ahead Of The Thanksgiving Holiday

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

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Pleasant Point Hotel reopens after shutting almost a year ago

Pleasant Point Hotel's new manager Tony Dahiya is excited the refurbished hotel has reopened after it was closed for almost a year.

Bejon Haswell/Stuff

Pleasant Point Hotel’s new manager Tony Dahiya is excited the refurbished hotel has reopened after it was closed for almost a year.

The reopening of the refurbished Pleasant Point Hotel has been welcomed by regulars who have missed the community hub over the past 11 months.

The hotel suddenly ceased trading on December 17, 2019, and has since been taken over by Bob Mason and Ross Rathgen who own Timaru’s Bullock Restaurant. Mason also owns the Old Bank.

Pleasant Point Hotel manager Tony Dahiya in the refurbished bar.

Bejon Haswell/Stuff

Pleasant Point Hotel manager Tony Dahiya in the refurbished bar.

At a quiet reopening on Friday, without any fanfare or promotion, about 50-60 Pleasant Point Hotel regulars enjoyed catching up with one another over a drink for the first time at the hotel in almost a year.

Jared McCrean,​ visits the bar about twice a week and told Stuff he is ‘’really pleased’’ it is open again.

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“It’s good for the community. It’s somewhere to go. It’s friendly and welcoming,” he said.

He thought the new-look bar was “15 times better than before”.

The dining area at the refurbished Pleasant Point Hotel has all new furniture.

Bejon Haswell/Stuff

The dining area at the refurbished Pleasant Point Hotel has all new furniture.

Over the past two months the bar has been updated to include a modern aspect, and new beer taps, while the rustic bar surround of corrugated iron and fence posts remain.

Other additions include an 82-inch big screen television and new furniture in the outdoor area.

The hotel’s outdoor section now has a fenced children’s play area.

Manager Tony Dahiya said it had been two months of hard work and sleepless nights to get the hotel to the standard it was at now, with the 14 bedrooms upstairs all boasting new beds and wardrobes.

He has been managing the Old Bank in Timaru for Mason for the past six years, before that working in hospitality in Otematata and Auckland.

“It’s great to see the locals happy. Some people had not seen their friends for a whole year,” Dahiya said.

Pleasant Point Hotel's outside dining space has a fenced children's play area.

Bejon Haswell/Stuff

Pleasant Point Hotel’s outside dining space has a fenced children’s play area.

A patron of 15 years, who did not want his name published, said he had missed the hotel “immensely” over the past year.

“It [Pleasant Point] was a town without a meeting place. It’s good to be back and catch up with the locals. There’s a lot to catch up on,” the patron said.

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New ModPipe malware targets hospitality, hotel point of sale systems

A new Point-of-Sale (PoS) malware is targeting devices used by “hundreds of thousands” of organizations in the hospitality sector, researchers have warned. 

Dubbed ModPipe, the malware is a backdoor able to harvest sensitive information in PoS devices running Oracle Micros Restaurant Enterprise Series (RES) 3700, management software that is particularly popular in the United States. 

RES 3700 is described by Oracle as the “most widely installed restaurant management software in the industry today.” The software suite is used to manage PoS, loyalty programs, reporting, inventory, promotions, and mobile payment. 

On Thursday, ESET researchers said in a blog post that the operators of ModPipe likely have a “deep knowledge” of the software, as the malware contains a custom algorithm designed to harvest RES 3700 POS database passwords by decrypting them from Windows registry values. 

See also: ESET takes down VictoryGate cryptomining botnet

This direct, sophisticated approach is in contrast to the standard PoS malware method, in which “noisy” keylogging and credit card skimming is often practiced. 

Alternatively, it may be that the cyberattackers were able to steal the software and reverse-engineer the code following a 2016 data breach at Oracle’s PoS division. 

Once executed on a PoS device, ModPipe will access database contents, including system configuration, status tables, and some PoS data concerning transactions — but it does not seem that in its basic state, the malware is able to grab credit card numbers or expiry dates. 

According to the researchers, this sensitive information is protected by encryption standards implemented by RES 3700 — and so the only payment card-related data threat actors will be able to access is cardholder names. 

ModPipe’s modular architecture comprises of a 32/64-bit dropper, a loader, and the main payload that creates a “pipe” used to connect with other malicious modules, as well as serve as a dispatch point for communication between the malware and a C2. 

ModPipe is also able to download additional modules from an attacker’s command-and-control (C2) server to extend its malicious capabilities. 

The modules found by ESET, so far, include GetMicInfo — the module containing the custom algorithm — which is also able to intercept and decrypt database passwords; ModScan 2.20, which gathers PoS information by scanning IP addresses; and ProcList, which monitors running processes. 

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The majority of PoS malware will hone in on guest or customer payment card data as this is the most valuable information a PoS device will process. Without a module to grab and decrypt this information, ESET says the operator’s business model remains “unclear.”

However, it should be noted that there may be such a module and it just hasn’t been found — yet. 

“To achieve this the attackers would have to reverse engineer the generation process of the “site-specific passphrase,” which is used to derive the encryption key for sensitive data,” the researchers note. “This process would then have to be implemented into the module and — due to use of

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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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Terrazzo and bronze staircase forms focal point of The Sukhothai hotel by Neri&Hu

A dramatic staircase connects floors inside this Shanghai hotel, which Neri&Hu has designed with calming, nature-inspired rooms.



a close up of a fence: Terrazzo and bronze staircase features in The Sukhothai Shanghai hotel


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Terrazzo and bronze staircase features in The Sukhothai Shanghai hotel

The staircase can be found in the entrance lobby of The Sukhothai hotel, which is situated in Shanghai’s Jing’an district.



A huge staircase is the focal point of The Sukhothai's lobby. Photo is by Pedro Pegenaute


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A huge staircase is the focal point of The Sukhothai’s lobby. Photo is by Pedro Pegenaute

It features a bronze balustrade and a staggered sequence of slim, grey-terrazzo steps that have been slightly set apart to create the illusion that they’re hovering.

The entire structure is then enclosed by a gridded timber framework that “envelops” guests as they ascend to the first floor.



a close up of a fence: Bronze has been used to make the balustrade, while the steps are grey terrazzo


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Bronze has been used to make the balustrade, while the steps are grey terrazzo

In the communal areas that lie beyond the staircase, Neri&Hu has fashioned an aesthetic that subtly celebrates the culture of both Shanghai and Bangkok – where the inaugural branch of The Sukhothai is located.

“The challenge for Sukhothai in Shanghai was how to remain true to the spirit of the original iconic hotel in Bangkok while bringing in elements that represent the local culture and history,” the studio explained.



a dining room table: Green hues reference nature and gardens. Photo is by Pedro Pegenaute


© Provided by Dezeen
Green hues reference nature and gardens. Photo is by Pedro Pegenaute

“In the end, our guiding concept was inspired by a universal condition that defines many dense Asian metropolises such as Shanghai and Bangkok — the sense of fragility and congestion and the desire for a reconnection with nature, for room to breathe and rejuvenate,” it continued.

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“We created an urban oasis in the midst of the concrete jungle of the city, so every aspect of the hotel relates to nature.”



a large room: The hotel's swimming pool is also lined with green tiles. Photo is by Pedro Pegenaute


© Provided by Dezeen
The hotel’s swimming pool is also lined with green tiles. Photo is by Pedro Pegenaute

Gardens became the main point of reference for the studio. For example, a network of columns has been installed in the restaurant as a nod to the ornate pillars that typically appear in Italian renaissance-style gardens.

The forest-green leather chairs that surround the dining tables and the emerald-coloured tiles that line the open kitchen are also meant to evoke lush, verdant settings.

A medley of green tiles has also been applied mosaic-style to the hotel’s swimming pool.



a bedroom with a large bed in a hotel room: Natural materials are spotlighted in the bedrooms. Photo is by Pedro Pegenaute


© Provided by Dezeen
Natural materials are spotlighted in the bedrooms. Photo is by Pedro Pegenaute

Neri&Hu have continued to use green tones and natural materials upstairs in the 201 guest bedrooms. Walls have been painted a tranquil jade hue, while the floor, headboards and writing desks are lined with wood.

Pebble-grey Carrara marble has been used to line almost every surface in the bathrooms – including the tubs.



a room with a sink and a mirror: Grey marble lines surfaces in the bathrooms


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Grey marble lines surfaces in the bathrooms

A number of hotels have opened in China this year. Among them is the Intercontinental in Chongqing and Read and Rest Hotel in Beijing,

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21 States Now ‘At A Tipping Point,’ Per Harvard-Brown Covid-19 Tracker

Planning to get away for the weekend? Choose your destination carefully.

A staggering 21 states are now “at a tipping point” for Covid-19, according to the risk-assessment map run by the Harvard Global Health Institute and Brown School of Public Health. The number of high-risk states has more than doubled — from 10 to 21 — in just three weeks.

Yesterday, the United States recorded 71,671 new positive Covid-19 cases, very close to a pandemic record, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That level of infection is on par with what the country saw back in mid-July, during the major summer surge of the virus in the U.S.

MORE FROM FORBESTravel Alert: America’s Current Covid-19 Surge Won’t End Until 2021

The risk-assessment tool run by Harvard Global Health Institute and Brown School of Public Health is an essential travel tool, particularly for imminent trips. The color-coded map provides an easy way for Americans to assess how quickly the disease is spreading in a specific state or county. Each community has a rating of green, yellow, orange or red, based upon the number of new daily cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people over a seven-day rolling average.

States that are colored red on the map have recorded 25 or more new positive Covid-19 cases every day per 100,000 people, based on a rolling seven-day average. That level of spread is unsustainable strain and states should be under stay-at-home orders, according to the Harvard and Brown researchers.

Since Labor Day weekend, North Dakota has been the epicenter of coronavirus in the United States. Over the past six weeks, the Roughrider State’s caseload has increased by a staggering 205%, from 32.1 to 98.7 new daily cases per 100,000 people.

The rest of the top 10 high-risk states span across the heartland and Mountain West, including South Dakota (78.0 new cases/100K), Wisconsin (61.6 cases/100K), Montana (60.2 cases/100K), Idaho (46.1 cases/100K), Nebraska (43.0 cases/100K), Wyoming (41.0 cases/100K), Utah (40.8 cases/100K), Iowa(35.3 cases/100K) and Missouri (32.8 cases/100K).

An additional 21 states are colored orange on the map, which signifies that the community has 10 or more new daily positive Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day rolling average. These states are experiencing an “accelerated spread” of Covid-19, with “stay-at-home orders and/or test and trace programs advised,” according to the Harvard and Brown researchers.

MORE FROM FORBESDon’t Cross State Lines, 3 Northeast Governors Urge

Only eight states — all of them located in the Northeast and Pacific West — are colored yellow on the Harvard-Brown map. Yellow means there is fewer than 10 new cases of Covid-19 each day per 100,000 people, which still signifies community spread.

Unfortunately, no state is in the green zone, which would mean fewer than one new daily case per 100,000 people. That metric would signify that the disease is “on track

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