Greetings! Every day, my 91-year-old dad calls me and asks, “is there any news about the virus disappearing?” My three-year-old son also often asks, “is there still a virus?” Both break my heart. These are unprecedented times and for this reason, I haven’t been on a plane since late February, which is by far the longest I have gone since graduating college. My longest streak of not traveling prior to that was three to four weeks, which only happened once a year. Otherwise, I would be on a plane every few days.
There was a glimmer of hope yesterday, which brought a smile to my dad’s face over Facetime when I told him that according to Dr. Fauci, the results of “the first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people’s immune systems just the way scientists had hoped.” It’s still a long ways away but according to the company’s (Moderna) president, Stephen Hoge, in an interview with CBS This Morning, their goal is to have a vaccine available for broad distribution by year-end or early next year.
Let’s keep our fingers (and toes) crossed because the world can’t live like this for much longer and certainly not my dad. He’s locked up in a senior home in Florida and as lonely as can be.
For now the best advice I can give is to only travel when you really have to and follow the CDC Guidelines which are:
-Clean your hands often: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after touching surfaces frequently touched by others, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before touching your face or eating. If soap and water are not available, bring and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
-Avoid close contact with others: Keep 6 feet of physical distance from others.
-Wear a cloth face covering in public.
-Cover coughs and sneezes.
-Pick up food at drive-throughs, curbside restaurant service, or stores.
A Consumer Reports Petition To Mandate Masks On Planes
Even before three people who traveled on a Delta Air Lines flight tested positive for COVID-19, Delta’s CEO and the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants (here’s the TODAY Show video) have both called on the Federal Government to mandate masks during flight. It seems like common sense to me that they should and Consumer Reports created a petition to try and get Elaine Chao, the Transportation Secretary, to make it happen.
United’s New Video
I was happy to see United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby had released a new video stating, “All travelers are required to wear a face covering during their entire flight unless they’re eating or drinking.” Unfortunately, some bad apples have used the words eating or drinking as in doing it leisurely. Senator Ted Cruz was photographed this week on an American Airlines (AA) flight without a mask and when he pointed out he was drinking, he then got called out again for being photographed not wearing a mask at the gate. The good news is AA sent him a public note.
Scott Kirby goes on to say in his video that “wearing a mask is one of the most important things we can all do to halt the spread of coronavirus.” If people want to be able to move around the country again and open up the economy, they better start adhering to the advice of health experts, otherwise it’s going to be a long and depressing year. I was happy to see the president finally don a mask in public so hopefully that will prompt more to do the same. If you need more reasons to wear a mask, a clever traveler from Hong Kong created a website (Warning: There are a ton of F-bombs in it, including the URL).
Air Travel Growth Has Plateaued
Since the virus is out of control in the U.S. and people aren’t physically distancing or wearing masks, the travel industry is getting walloped. Delta said that “growth has stalled” and “it was growing at a pretty nice clip through June. The virus, unfortunately, was also growing.” They go on to say that “air travel within the United States fell 95% from the start of March until mid-April, when fewer than 100,000 people boarded airline planes on some days, down from more than 2 million a day a year earlier. That rose to more than 700,000 on the best days, but it has hit a plateau in July, coinciding with increased COVID-19 cases across the Sun Belt.” Obviously, as coronavirus cases have gone up, travel demand has gone down and Delta was planning to fly 1,000 flights a day in August. Now it’s only half that.
American Airlines Sending 25,000 Furlough Notices As U.S. Demand Sags
Delta isn’t the only airline suffering. American says it’s sending 25,000 furlough notices as U.S. demand sags. “The warnings are being sent to 2,500 pilots or about 18% of the total, nearly 10,000 flight attendants or 37% of the total, and 3,200 mechanics or 22% of the total.”
QANTAS To Cancel Almost All International Flights Until March 2021
It’s not just in the USA either. To give you a little (scary) peek into the future of how bad international travel is … QANTAS (Australia’s largest carrier) is set to cancel nearly all international flights until March 2021. The only ones they’re keeping are to New Zealand as they hope to create a “Trans-Tasman Bubble” by Christmas.
Airlines Keeping The Middle Seat Blocked
If you do have to fly, you’ll probably want to fly Delta, Southwest or JetBlue because they’re keeping the middle seats open until September. Delta’s CEO did promise the other day that empty middle seats will be extended beyond September 30 and possibly into early 2021.
MIT Study On Blocking Middle Seats
I know many airline executives say keeping the middle seat open doesn’t work but I call B.S. on that. And not just because of an MIT study that says “empty middle seats could reduce COVID-19 contagion risk.” It makes sense not simply because there are six feet between you and the person in the aisle or window or behind you but because it’s that many fewer people on the plane, which also reduces the risk.
Canada, U.S. agree to keep borders closed another 30 days
The Canada/USA border closure is being renewed for the fourth time since the border closed to non-essential traffic on March 21. Unless things drastically change in the United States (and I don’t see that happening), I don’t think Canada is going to allow U.S. travelers in until spring of 2021. I hope I’m wrong because I want to go see my mother-in-law in Toronto.
EU extends travel ban on Americans amid spike in US coronavirus cases
No surprise here. Today, “The European Union extended its travel ban on Americans Thursday, as coronavirus infections continued to spike across the United States.” USA Today
Hawaii just extended its quarantine until Sept. 1
For those planning on going to Hawaii in August and not having to quarantine for 14 days, guess what? Hawaii just delayed opening until September 1 and if the mainland doesn’t get the virus under control, you can bet they will extend again. However, if you are willing to risk getting a voucher instead of a full refund, there are some amazing deals to Hawaii for the fall. I’m talking under $200 R/T from some airports.
New York imposes 2K fine for failure to submit tracing form at airport
Hawaii isn’t the only U.S. state requiring travelers to quarantine for 14 days. Anyone entering New York from an affected state must complete a Traveler Health Form in advance of their stay, and those who leave the airport without doing so now face a $2,000 fine plus additional penalty. Enforcement teams, stationed at New York’s airports, will be checking for completed forms.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that a nationwide mandatory face mask requirement for indoor public spaces will go into effect the week on July 19 rather than August 1.
Hong Kong Disneyland Will Close Down Again as Cases Rise
Hong Kong Disneyland Will Close Down Again as Cases Rise – Sadly, you know that’s going to happen in the U.S. too.
Would Doctors Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
While some people are still traveling, most are not. Although, I have yet to get on an airplane since February because I can’t risk exposing my family, especially my two young children or my 91 year old dad. But would doctors travel right now? We checked in with some experts across the country to find out their thoughts on traveling during this pandemic.
An “Antiviral Mattress” From Serta Simmons Bedding Made With Technology Used In N95 Masks
An “antiviral mattress” from Serta Simmons Bedding made with technology used in N95 masks is generating interest from major hotel companies (pending U.S. government approvals). In one study, the fabric technology offered 99.99% protection against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Would an antiviral mattress make you more comfortable staying in a hotel? Here’s my #Sponsored post.