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UK’s Johnson Is Talking With U.S. on COVID Travel Corridor | World News


LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson is talking to the United States about a travel corridor, LBC radio said on Wednesday, quoting him as saying he wants U.S. citizens to come to Britain “freely” as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want people to be able to come from the US freely in a way that they normally do. We’re talking to them the whole time,” LBC reported after interviewing the prime minister.

“At the moment we’re dealing with a Delta wave, the U.S. is dealing with a Delta wave, but be assured that we are on it the whole time. As soon as we have something to say about travel corridors you’ll be hearing from us.”

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Kate Holton)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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New U.S. Hotel Construction Projects Up 20 Percent Year Over Year in Q2


A total of 372 new U.S. hotel projects with 45,084 rooms
were announced in the first half of 2021, with 202 of those 25,653 rooms
announced in the second quarter, representing a 20 percent year-over-year
announcement increase for Q2, according to the latest U.S. construction
pipeline report from Lodging Economics. 

For the first half of 2021, 472 new hotels with 59,034 rooms
opened in the United States, and Lodging Econometrics is forecasting another
450 projects with 51,754 rooms to open during the second half of 2021,
a 2 percent increase in new supply for 2022. In its first forecast
for 2023, the company anticipates another 2 percent supply increase, with an additional 997 projects with 115,271 rooms.

Currently under construction are 1,165 projects with 159,581
rooms, and those anticipated to start within the next 12 months total 1,843
projects with 213,744 rooms, according to Lodging Econometrics. Those in the early
planning stages stand at 1,779 projects with 224,786 rooms. The increase in
projects in the early stages reflects a combination of developer confidence to
initiate new construction projects and the recalibration of timelines
for some existing projects, according to the company.

Conversions continue to hold strong, with 1,181 active
conversion projects with 128,810 rooms in the first half of 2021. Renovations
for the same period totaled 1,152 projects with 238,110 rooms.

Top Markets by Pipeline

New York City took the top spots for the U.S. market with
the largest construction pipeline at the close of the second quarter (146
projects with 25,232 rooms), the most projects under construction (111 with
19,582 rooms), the highest number of hotels forecast to open in 2021 (59
projects with 8,583 rooms) for a 7.2 percent supply increase, as well as the
highest number of hotels expected to open in 2022 (46 projects with 7,934 rooms).

Following New York, the four cities with the largest hotel construction
pipelines in the United States were Los Angeles (135 projects with 22,586
rooms), Dallas (132 projects with 16,183 rooms), Atlanta (129 projects with 17,845
rooms) and Nashville (91 projects with 12,703 rooms). 

Cities with the most projects under construction after New
York were Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas and Austin, Tex. Combined, these five
markets account for nearly 25 percent of the total number of rooms currently
under construction in the U.S., according to Lodging Econometrics.

RELATED: Marriott,
Hilton, IHG Account for 73 Percent of U.S. Hotel Rooms Opened in Q1



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Hawaiian’s Q2 results improve as travel barriers ease | News


Hawaiian Holdings, parent company of Hawaiian Airlines, says relaxed travel restrictions for inbound travellers from the US mainland have gone a long way to help the airline’s bottom line during the second quarter of 2021.

The Honolulu-based carrier lost $6.2 million in the three-month period that ended on 30 June, compared to a $107 million loss in the same period of pandemic-plagued 2020, Hawaiian reports on 27 July. Without federal aid and other special items, the second-quarter 2021 loss would have been $73.8 million.

The airline’s revenue during the second quarter was $411 million, down 42% from the second quarter of 2019 but almost five times the amount the airline achieved in same period of 2020.

Hawaiian Airlines

Capacity during the three-month period was 30% lower than in the second quarter of 2019.

“We made meaningful strides toward recovery during the second quarter, propelled by continued strong demand on our US mainland routes,” chief executive Peter Ingram says. “It is encouraging to see how far we’ve come and I am optimistic about our continued recovery.”

“In the second quarter of 2021, the company continued to rebuild and expand its network, primarily in North America,” he adds. “Neighbour-island demand continues grind back…aided by the relaxation of restrictions.”

Executives say the rapid spread of the so-called “Delta” variant of Covid-19 in past weeks has not made a “discernible” impact on passenger demand.

In June, the airline’s North America traffic exceeded June 2019 levels, and the airline expects that trend to continue into the third quarter. During the second quarter of 2021, Hawaiian said it operated at an average of 70% of its 2019 second quarter system capacity.

In July, the state of Hawaii jettisoned its mandatory quarantine requirement for arriving travellers from the US mainland who are fully vaccinated. In addition, inter-island travel for inoculated passengers was simplified, as customers were freed from quarantine and testing requirements.

For the third quarter, the airline expects to continue to rebuild its network, “driven primarily by North America and neighbour-island flying”. Capacity will come in around 20-23% lower than 2019 levels, says Ingram.

“The company expects improvement in total revenue, with continued strength in North America demand, and steady improvement in neighbor island routes,” Hawaiian says.

LONG-HAUL

But international long-haul routes to Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand will continue to be a problem, likely for the rest of the year. There is no sign of travel restrictions easing in those countries, the airline’s vice-president revenue management and network planning Brent Overbeek says.

Passenger volumes for those routes remain a fraction of 2019 figures, and travel restrictions have “stunted any meaningful prospects”, Ingram says.

The airline expects its international flights to Japan and Korea will be first to recover, sometime in the final quarter of 2021, with Australia and New Zealand not likely to return until next year.

“We won’t act on publishing schedules until we get closer to the realisation of the policy changes that are necessary before we can embark on a recovery,” Ingram says.

Hawaii is a major holiday destination for Asian tourists, and Ingram says that demand will return once travel rules ease.

“What we have seen from North America is going to repeat itself when Hawaii is once again available to visitors from around the Pacific Rim,” he says.



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Travel restrictions: U.S. arrivals will have to quarantine. But how will it be enforced?


A spokeswoman for the CDC, Caitlin Shockey, called the current legislation “not a mandatory quarantine, just a recommendation,” in an email to The Washington Post. The agency agreed that it will not be mobilizing in any way to enforce its guidance as a rule, and stated “there is not a mandatory, federal quarantine.”



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Delta allows free flight changes as travelers struggle to reach agents


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Delta Air Lines is eliminating fees for changes to basic economy trips through the rest of the year.

The move comes as travelers struggle to reach agents. Wait times on Delta’s phone lines have spiked due to the increase in travelers in recent months and an “unprecedented” level of questions about travel policies and schedule changes, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a Tuesday statement. 

Delta also announced Tuesday that it is hiring more than 5,000 people to help with record call volumes and other services.

Airlines eliminated onerous ticket change fees last year, but the new policies excluded the no-frills basic economy tickets, which tend to be the cheapest.

How do I change a Delta flight?

Starting Wednesday, customers booked in basic economy can make changes to flights for trips through Dec. 31.

Delta’s temporary 2021 Basic Economy Changeability Waiver will allow eligible customers to change the date, time or location of their trip on Delta.com and the Fly Delta app.

To change a flight, travelers can select “My Trips,” select the flight they want to change and then click “Modify Flight.” Selecting “Start Flight Change” will let them select which flight they would like to change and search for a new flight.  

Travelers can also cancel a trip and receive credit for the value of the unused ticket. The credit must be rebooked on or before Dec. 31, 2022. 

To cancel, travelers can visit the “My Trips” page on Delta’s website and then select “Modify Flight” and “Start Flight Cancellation.” Tickets purchased on or before April 30, 2021, can be canceled prior to departure, while basic economy tickets purchased after April 30 are final.  

If a new flight costs more than the original flight or credit, travelers will have to pay the difference. Travelers who select a new flight that is less expensive than the original flight will receive credit for the difference, which is redeemable toward future travel. 

Basic Economy flights in 2022 remain non-refundable and non-changeable, according to Delta’s website. 

Long wait times: Delta hold times won’t improve until fall

Change fees: Hawaiian joins Delta, American, United and Alaska in ditching change fees on US flights

Long wait times at Delta

Delta and its competitors have seen an unprecedented spike in calls in recent months, with many callers searching for answers to complicated questions over pandemic travel credits and travel restrictions.  

While Delta’s average wait time is about an hour, travelers have reported waits as long as nine hours.

Bastian said he expects to return to normal wait times by September.

Shopping for flights? Change fees and other pre-pandemic penalties are back or returning soon

‘Current hold time is eight hours and 31: Travelers face frustrating waits to reach airlines

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz





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The Complex Business And Logistics Of Surviving The Baja 500


Ask any veteran of off-road racing and they’ll tell you, it’s not so much beating your direct competitors to the finish line as it is battling the environment itself. Sure, in races like the Baja 500, Baja 1000, the Mint 400 there are hundreds of racers all battling it out, but as Wayne Matlock puts it, “ if you’re good, and running a good pace, it’s you versus the terrain.” It’s about survival, and Wayne Matlock and his wife Kristen have made a family business out of it. 

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As a six-times SCORE International champion, Wayne has won both the Baja 1000 and 500 seven times each. Kristen, also a SCORE International champion, has won her class in the Baja 1000 and the Baja 500, once and twice respectively. So this year’s running isn’t the married couple’s first rodeo. To top it off, both of them “Iron Man” and Iron Woman” their races. Meaning, while they have co-drivers they don’t swap out for a breather. They drive the full race distance themselves. 

This past June, I made my way down to Ensenada, Baja California in Mexico to tag along with the Matlock Racing team. I sat in on the team meeting and rode in one of the team chase trucks to see firsthand the physical and logistical challenges that a race like the Baja 500 entails. Since Wayne and Kristen drive their own race-prepped Polaris RZR UTVs, it means they double the team’s chances for good results but simultaneously multiply the odds of something going wrong. 

I arrived in Ensenada the day before race day to meet the Matlocks and the team. The hotel parking lot was filled with other teams’ trailers and race trucks, all performing last-minute checks and adjustments. The Matlocks set up shop in a space conveniently right in front of their hotel room, making their own final adjustments. According to Wayne Matlock, what I saw was just the tip of the iceberg. “Preparation starts months in advance. The week leading up to the race is all truck preparation, pit plans, making sure the team is up to speed, hotel reservations.” 

The Polaris RZR Pro XPs that the Matlocks race comes straight from the factory, but undergo a significant amount of modification at their shop to make the RZRs race-ready. “We use a lot of their factory parts, but for the most part, the whole chassis has been modified. We keep the factory frame rails and all the factory mounting positions,” said Wayne. The powertrains and drivetrain remain untouched, the bulk of the changes are race-regulated safety equipment like seats, belts, reinforced roll cages, fuel and suspension. The suspension gets the most noticeable overhaul and is reinforced for the type of punishment only desert racing can dish out. 

From the outside looking in, off-road racing can seem crude and simple. It’s anything but. It’s certainly not as polished as road racing, but under all of the dirt, mud and plastic body panels sometimes barely hanging on with zip ties and duct tape, there’s an incredible amount of precise engineering. 

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The night before the race, the mechanics went over the diagnostics of the car, talking with Matt and Kristen. Deep detail numbers like suspension travel down to the millimeter, particular engine RPMs at certain speeds, brake pressure, air-fuel ratios, all can be adjusted with laboratory-like efficiency and computer programs. It was a discussion that seemed almost out of place, too delicate for desert racing, but it’s integral in gaining any advantage necessary. 

 It doesn’t stop with just the race cars either. Both Wayne and Kristen have their own chase trucks which are essentially pickup truck-rolling garage tool chest hybrids. According to Wayne, there’s “pretty much one if not two of everything. If you gave us a blank chassis, we could effectively build another RZR from the parts on the chase truck.” That level of preparation isn’t overkill, it’s par for course. 

Kristen recited an old off-road racing adage, “If you have it, you won’t need it. If you need it, you probably won’t have it.” In Baja, Murphy’s Law seems to be as ever-present as the dirt on course, so ultimate preparation is critical. But how do you plan for race-stopping damage? “It’s difficult,” said Kristen. “If something breaks, you don’t know where it’s going to break. Depending on where and when it breaks, that’s when you come up with a plan. It comes down to experience and how many times and how many things you’ve broken.” That “experience” came in handy for both the Matlocks during this year’s Baja 500. 

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Around race-mile 180, one of the aftermarket brake calipers on Kristen’s car failed. The caliper then spun around and destroyed the suspension arm. Wayne, having begun the race further back in the starting order, was behind Kristen by a few miles, but happened to recognize her jack on the side of the course further back. As soon as he came across the stricken car, stopped and gave them his jack, then set off down the trail. Kristen, unfortunately, didn’t have the parts to make the fixes and was in a spot on the course too remote for the chase truck to bring her what she needed. 

Earlier in the race, Wayne had his own problems to deal with on the fly. “I smelled something hot and electrical while trying to pass another car, I thought it was the car in front so I ignored it.” What Wayne didn’t realize, at least not at that exact moment, was that the wiring going through the top of the dash started to chafe from all the knocks, bumps and vibrations.

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“Then, all of a sudden there were flames.” Being strapped into a race seat, there wasn’t much he could do, but he had to think fast. “I was able to reach some of the wires, so I just grabbed them and pulled them out. At that point, one of our radiator fans went down and we lost the fresh air pump to our helmets.” Not ideal when racing through the Desert in the middle of the summer. 

If an inboard fire wasn’t enough, after Wayne lent Kristen his jack, three miles up the road, in an attempt to avoid another broken down car on track, he hit a massive ditch, obliterating his RZR and any chance of finishing the race. Luckily, Wayne and his co-driver Daniel Felix were unscathed, got out, and began to assess the damage. 

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Wayne’s car was in no condition to finish the race, even if he had the parts to somewhat fix the car. Fortunately, the parts on his car that Kristen needed were relatively unscathed. So, while Wayne got busy removing the damaged parts, his co-driver took off the parts Kristen needed (a hub rotor, suspension knuckle, brake caliper, as well as nuts and bolts) loaded up a backpack and ran back the three miles down the racecourse. 

Four hours later, around 8:00 PM, Kristen and her co-driver Adrian (Daniel’s brother) gave Daniel a ride back to the scene of his and Wayne’s accident and then continued off down the racecourse. Due to the remoteness of where Wayne crashed, it took some time to get a hold of his support truck, the one I was in, via radio. Once we located him, we found the nearest entry point to the course, loaded up the spare RZR that we were trailering around all day with the parts he needed. John Bahl, the team mechanic then set out into the darkness in the loaded spare RZR. 

We didn’t see Wayne, Danny and Bahl until 2:00 AM. When we did, we got Wayne’s RZR onto the flatbed and made our way back to the hotel. Kristen eventually finished her race, albeit around 4:00 AM and with only three working brakes, but, she was in one piece and thankful to be done. 

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No matter the final race place, just getting out of Baja alive is a remarkable achievement. The races in Baja are relentless because the terrain itself is so damn unforgiving. Whether it’s the Baja 500 or the longer Baja 1000, just surviving the race takes years of experience, months of planning, weeks of preparation, and also a heaping dose of bravery. Off-road racing isn’t for the faint of heart nor for the noncommittal, especially when it comes to Baja. It’s a full-time job and the Matlock’s have made a very successful family business out of it.

Follow me @BusinessBryan

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Peter Greenberg On European Travel – Boston News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and Boston’s Best


Americans Flooding Greece: Peter Greenberg On European TravelCBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg has an update on the travel conditions from a cruise ship in Santorini.

‘Hard To Believe’: Hardwick Health Agent Unable To Convince Residents To Get COVID VaccineAccording to DPH officials, only 35% of Hardwick residents are fully vaccinated, the lowest rate in Massachusetts. WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod reports.

Severe Storms Take Down Trees, Knock Out Power Across StateWBZ-TV’s Juli McDonald spoke with a homeowner after tree fell on his house in Hyde Park.

Simone Biles Withdraws From Team Competition At OlympicsWBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports.

WBZ Evening Forecast For July 27Eric Fisher has your latest weather forecast.

WBZ Evening News Update For July 27Patriots tight end Devin Asiasi tests positive for COVID-19; Boater hits woman on paddle-board on Lake Winnipesaukee; New Bedford police make an arrest in connection with a deadly stabbing; Latest forecast.

7-Month-Old With Rare Genetic Condition Sent Home From Hospital For The First Time Since Being BornMilo has been receiving specialized treatment at Franciscan Children’s Hospital for the past four months.

Market Basket Worker Helps Veteran Pay For GroceriesBriar Poirier is the kind of guy people seek out when they shop at the Market Basket in Oxford. WBZ-TV’s Rachel Holt reports.

Keller @ Large: Some Republicans Ramp Up Appeals To Get Vaccinated, But Not So Much In MassachusettsWBZ-TV’s Jon Keller scrolled through months of the state party’s social media feeds looking in vain for any mention of vaccinations.

Emotional Testimony In Hearing On Jan. 6 Capitol Hill AttackCBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge discusses the emotional testimony from Capitol Police officers.

Sen. Warren, Rep. Pressley Push For Biden To Extend Pause On Student Loan Payments, Cancel DebtThey says President Biden has a responsibility to use his executive authority to help those with student loan debt.

I-Team’s Call For Action Helps Disabled Woman Get Handicapped Parking Spot BackA Woburn woman reached out to the I-Team’s Call For Action when handicap parking at her apartment building was taken away. WBZ-TV’s Cheryl Fiandaca reports.

Burlington Police Warn About ‘Dent Repair Scam’A woman said she was confused and scared when two men in a van tried to lure her out of her car Tuesday at Burlington Mall. WBZ-TV’s Zinnia Maldonado reports.

CDC Guidance Recommends Masks In Schools And In Areas Of ‘Substantial Or High’ COVID TransmissionWBZ-TV’s Kristina Rex reports.

‘The Surge Seems To Be Happening’: COVID-19 Hospitalizations Spike In WorcesterThe four hospitals in the UMass Memorial System have seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last few weeks. WBZ-TV’s Louisa Moller reports.

Dr. Paul Sax Reacts To New Mask Guidance Expected From CDCDr. Paul Sax, an infectious diseases expert at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, reacts to new face mask guidance expected from the CDC.

Western Wildfires Caused Smokey Conditions, Poor Air Quality All The Way In New EnglandWBZ-TV’s Lisa Gresci reports.

WBZ News Update For July 27, 2021Paula Ebben and Zack Green have your latest news and weather headlines.

WBZ Midday Forecast For July 27Zack Green has your latest weather forecast.

Crash Caught On Camera Amid Uptick In Complaints About Off-Road Vehicles In Pelham, NHPolice in one New Hampshire town have seen an uptick of complaints about off-road vehicles recently, including one crash that was caught on a home security camera. Katie Johnston reports.

CDC Expected To Recommend Face Masks For Fully Vaccinated Americans Again In Some Indoor SettingsWBZ TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

CDC Expected To Recommend Fully Vaccinated People Resume Indoor MaskingThe Centers for Disease Control will announce Tuesday that fully vaccinated Americans should once again wear face masks in indoor public settings, CBS News reports.

Belichick: ‘Clean Slate’ For Everyone, Including QuarterbacksBill Belichick did not dismiss the notion of an open quarterback competition this summer.



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Fourth of July expected to bring near-record travel volumes


People are taking vacations they’ve deferred for the last year and a half, and “all indications now point to a busy Independence Day,” Haas said.

President Joe Biden has urged Americans to get vaccinated, saying he wanted to “begin to mark our independence from this virus” by the Fourth of July. The travel booking app Hopper said it saw a surge in travel searches for the summer following the president’s primetime address, including a 56% spike in searches for the July 4th weekend.

The vast majority of travel for the holiday will be by car — more than 90% of trips nationally and locally. Some of those people opting for road trips instead of flying are trying to avoid crowded planes and airports as coronavirus variants continue to spread.

“Road trips provide a sense of freedom and more control over the duration of your trip,” AAA spokesman Garrett Townsend said in a written statement.

But that freedom will be tempered with the hassles of highway congestion. The worst traffic delays are forecast for the Thursday and Friday afternoons before the holiday weekend, along with mid-day July 5, according to AAA.

More than 99,000 people in Georgia are expected to take flights over the July holiday period, up from fewer than 40,000 last year and reaching about 89% of 2019 levels. About 3.5 million people nationally are expected to travel by air, up from 1.3 million in 2020 and nearing 90% of 2019 levels.

Airports are expected to be busy, with more than 2 million passengers passing through airport security checkpoints nationwide on peak days.

July 2 should be the busiest departure day, while July 5 will be the busiest day for return flights, according to Hopper.

With airline travel off due to declines in business trips and international travel restrictions, average air fares are still down 2% from last year and down about 7% from 2019 fares, according to AAA.

Hopper estimates domestic airfare for the holiday weekend will average $302 round trip, and prices will spike the week leading up to the holiday.

High prices for gas, hotels and car rentals also could take a bite out of travelers’ budgets. Gas prices are at their highest levels since 2014, AAA reports. Mid-range hotel rates are up 32-35%. Car rental rates have skyrocketed amid a shortage of vehicles. Car rental rates are up 86% year-over-year, rising to a national average of $166 a day. In Atlanta, the average car rental rate has soared to $173 a day.

The top two Fourth of July destinations for travelers, based on AAA Travel bookings, are Disney theme park cities: Orlando and Anaheim. The most popular road trips include Nashville to Atlanta.

Atlanta’s usual Centennial Olympic Park Fourth of July fireworks celebration is canceled this year, but other big events are still planned for the holiday weekend, including the AJC Peachtree Road Race and Stone Mountain’s fireworks celebration.

While millions will take road trips and flights, the use of other forms of travel — buses, trains and ships — remains 82% below 2019 levels for the holiday. A limited number of cruises are starting up again this month after cruise lines were hit hard by the pandemic.





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Chicago Travel Advisory Update: 9 states added back on list as COVID-19 cases rise


CHICAGO (WLS) — The Chicago Department of Public Health announced nine states have been added to its travel advisory as COVID cases rise across the country.

The city’s emergency COVID-19 travel order was changed to an advisory on June 29. The change was a result of a third consecutive reporting period where no U.S. states or territories has recorded 15 or more COVID cases per day per 100,000 residents.

WATCH | Dr. Arwady updates Chicago Travel Advisory

The nine states added Tuesday are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. They join five other states and one territory: Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, Missouri and the Virgin Islands.

Any unvaccinated people traveling from those states are advised to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago or quarantine for a 10-day period upon arrival.

Any states or territories with fewer than 15 cases per 100,000 residents per day are in the Yellow Tier. Travelers must still follow masking rules on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.

RELATED | CDC reverses course on indoor masks in some parts of US

And while the CDC is also recommending people in those states wear masks indoors in public areas, Chicago Dept. of Public Health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at this point, that is not necessary here.

“I wear it, I’m used to wearing it, but it’s not a recommendation we’re making at the population level,” Arwady said.

Arwady said that’s primarily because about two-thirds of eligible Chicago residents have been vaccinated. She said research shows 97% of COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized or who die are not vaccinated. She is hoping that message reaches the remaining Chicagoans who have not yet chosen to get the vaccine.

“I want people to be concerned, but I don’t want there to be unnecessary panic,” Arwady said. “I want people to get vaccinated that is the most important thing.”

And she says while the city is still in good shape, the numbers are rising here like they are in the rest of the country primarily because of the delta variant. She expects Chicago to move from low to moderate risk in the next week – all the more reason to get vaccinated.

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.





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Spring break: CDC advises delaying trips, vacations to 2022


Nonetheless, we know that people are planning spring break travel. Mark Crossey, U.S. travel expert for Skyscanner, says the rollout of vaccinations in the United States has inspired confidence, which he expects to translate to leisure travel around the vacation period. Epidemiologists acknowledge we can’t rely on so-called abstinence-only pandemic advice alone, so they encourage travelers to take precautions to reduce their coronavirus risks.



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