Air travel hits highest peak since March 2020


If you found yourself stranded at an airport Sunday, blame demand.

Air travel tracking website Flight Aware reports American Airlines canceled 6% of its flights due to labor issues.

[TRENDING: 1 killed, several shot at Father’s Day event | Deadly Pride parade crash not intentional | TS Claudette cited in 13 deaths]

That comes as the Transportation Security Administration said it screened 2.1 million people at airports across the country. That’s the largest single-day number since March 7 of last year.

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Memorial Day also set a pandemic-era record for air travel this year as almost nine million people passed through security checkpoints.

But that volume came over a long weekend and no single day exceeded two million passengers.

Copyright 2021 by CNN Newsource – All rights reserved.



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US air travel hits highest level since March 2020


The Delta variant, or the B.1.617.2 first identified in India, is one of the variants overtaking the Alpha, or B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, as the dominant variant in the United States, and it’s happening faster in counties with lower vaccination rates, according to a new study by scientists at Helix, scheduled to be published as a preprint in the coming days.

Scientists at Helix analyzed nearly 20,000 Covid-19 tests collected since April 2021 and just under 250,000 Covid-19 sequence results of samples Helix collected since January 2021. 

What the research showed:

  • They found that the percentage of positive cases of the B.1.1.7 variant dropped from 70% in April 2021 to 42% six weeks later.
  • Their results show that “the variant of concern B.1.1.7 is rapidly being displaced in the United States,” they said, and most of this displacement can be attributed to the Delta variant and the Gamma variant, also known as P.1 and first identified in Brazil. “In the United States, this analysis showed that the growth rate of B.1.617.2 was faster than P.1,” said the research.
  • However, growth rates of the two variants differed by the county vaccination rate.The samples the study looked at came from 747 counties. The sequence data from the counties was compared to county vaccination rates that came from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The growth curve for B.1.617.2, which is more transmissible but against which vaccines are highly effective, shows faster growth in counties with lower vaccination rates,” said the study. “In contrast, P.1, which is less transmissible but against which vaccines have somewhat less efficacy, has a higher prevalence in counties with higher vaccination rates.”

More on the study: They defined a county with a lower vaccination rate as one which had less than 28.5% of the population completely vaccinated on May 1, the others were considered counties with a higher vaccination rate.

An important limitation is noted by the researchers: the relatively small number of positives that have been analyzed in the last two months, partly because of the lower numbers of cases in the US and the decrease in test positivity rate. The data is not homogenous across the US and the samples “do not proportionally represent the different areas of the United states by population”, they say, which is another limitation.



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Thorgan Hazard: Belgium winger will not travel to face Finland in Euro 2020 group game


What has been said?

A post from the Belgium national team’s Twitter account confirmed: “Thorgan Hazard won’t travel with the team to Saint Petersburg.”

What is the nature of the injury?

The Borussia Dortmund winger is believed to have suffered a knock on his knee during the Denmark game. He also did not train with the rest of the squad on Saturday.

Is there any other Belgium team news?

Yes.

Martinez confirmed during his pre-match press conference that veterans Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne will start Belgium’s fixture against Finland following their recent injury problems.

“Eden, Kevin and Axel will start against Finland because we need to see how (fit) they are and how long they can play,” Martinez said.

“And it’s an opportunity for us to stretch their match fitness to the maximum level.”

Belgium has already qualified for the last 16 after their wins against Russia and Denmark.

(Photo: Martin Rose – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)





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The Netherlands return, will face Ukraine at Euro 2020


AP
Published 6:53 a.m. ET June 12, 2021 | Updated 8:52 a.m. ET June 12, 2021

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Seven years is a long, long wait.

It’s been that many years since the Netherlands last played at a major soccer tournament, dating back to the orange-clad team’s run to the World Cup semifinals in 2014. On Sunday in Amsterdam, the Dutch will finally be back on the field to take on Ukraine at the European Championship.

“We know that we missed two final tournaments, but now we’re finally here and so we want to show what we can do, not just for fun but really for the prizes,” said Memphis Depay, the striker who is the undisputed focal point of the Dutch attack at Euro 2020.

The team’s captain and defensive anchor, Virgil van Dijk, will have to wait even longer. He pulled out of the tournament to rehabilitate his surgically repaired knee.

The defense was further weakened by a groin injury to 21-year-old center back Matthijs de Ligt. Netherlands coach Frank de Boer said Saturday that De Ligt will not be able to play against Ukraine.

“It is a bit too early,” De Boer said. “We don’t want to take any risks. We have two more group matches.”

De Boer did not say who would replace the Juventus defender in the starting lineup.

De Ligt is one of the Netherlands players that reached the Champions League semifinals in 2019 with Ajax and then moved to a major club, like so many talented youngsters produced by the Dutch club’s youth academy.

Frenkie de Jong was also in that Ajax team and subsequently moved to Barcelona, where he developed into one of the best players during a tough season under former Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman. Barcelona ended up finishing third in the Spanish league.

De Jong, the Netherlands’ key midfielder, said he’s feeling fresh despite the long club season.

“If a lot of people say to you, ‘You’ve played a lot, you must be tired,’ it can get into your head,” de Jong said. “But for me it’s not an issue.”

De Jong’s role in the midfield will depend on the formation De Boer chooses. The coach said Saturday the team would start in a 3-5-2 setup — he counts two wing backs operating on the flanks as midfielders — instead of the traditional 4-3-3.

De Boer insists that it’s an attacking formation with the wing backs playing high up the field, but not everyone is convinced.

A light plane flew over the team’s training ground Saturday pulling a banner that read in Dutch: “Frank. Just 4-3-3!”

“That’s not something you see every day,” Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum said.

De Boer joked that he’s also hired a plane to pull a banner reading: “Thanks for the tip, but it remains 3-5-2.”

The Netherlands’ only international title came at the 1988 European Championship. The Dutch have also reached three World Cup finals and lost them all.

About 16,000 fans will be allowed to watch Sunday’s Group C match at the Johan Cruyff Arena. With coronavirus travel restrictions expected to keep most Ukrainian fans from traveling to the Netherlands, the vast majority will be Dutch.

Only a handful of players remain in Dutch team from the last major tournament, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Among them are Depay, Wijnaldum, defender Daley Blind and goalkeeper Tim Krul. Another keeper, Jasper Cillessen — replaced by Krul in the 2014 quarterfinal penalty shootout win over Costa Rica — will miss this tournament after testing positive for COVID-19.

Depay was an emerging talent in Brazil. Now he’s one of the veterans of the team with 23 goals in 62 appearances.

“I have a feeling of responsibility that I have to carry the team, but I’ve always had this,” Depay said.

Ukraine qualified for the last two European Championships, but has never progressed past the group stage. The country’s main player is Oleksandr Zinchenko, who plays at left back for Manchester City but is expected to switch to a central midfield role for his country.

The Ukrainians are coached by Andriy Shevchenko, whose mentality doesn’t seem to have changed much from his playing days with the national team and clubs including AC Milan and Chelsea.

“He always wants to win,” Ukraine midfielder Taras Stepanenko said. “Always, all matches, no matter what teams, he always wants to win.”

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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EURO2020.com’s expert panel make their predictions | UEFA EURO 2020


David James, Gianluca Zambrotta, Nuno Gomes, Steffen Freund and Gaizka Mendieta will be imparting their wisdom on EURO2020.com throughout the tournament. We gauged their opinions on the eve of the finals.

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David James
EURO 2004 quarter-finalist with England




David James at EURO 2004


David James at EURO 2004Getty Images

Winner: England
I’m going for England. Whether I believe it or not, I always go for England.

Player of the tournament: N’Golo Kanté
He’s one player I’ve followed this season for different reasons – the guy’s amazing and he proved that in the Champions League final. This is a guy that if he got player of the tournament, he’d shake hands, say ‘thank you’ and walk back into the changing room. What a wonderful person and a wonderful player.

Young player of the tournament: Jude Bellingham
Bellingham’s only 17 – he ticks all the boxes. This is a guy who’s won a cup in Germany; he’s been fantastic for Dortmund and fully deserves to be in the England squad. Despite the fact he hasn’t had a long career by any stretch, having met him he just seems so upbeat. I know his coach as well and he says exactly the same thing. No one knows what his limit is because they’ve pushed him to try and find his limit and he just keeps going.

Top scorer: Harry Kane or Romelu Lukaku
Harry Kane would have to be the favourite from an England perspective, but Lukaku has had a fantastic season in Italy.

Dark horses: Austria
I know England beat them 1-0, but Austria have got some players – David Alaba and Marcel Sabitzer, just to mention two.




Highlights: England 1-0 Austria


Highlights: England 1-0 Austria

Breakout star: Kevin Nisbet
I can see him doing really well (hopefully not against England). This is a young lad who’s fought his way into the Scotland reckoning and scored in their friendly against the Netherlands.

Top tip for players at a major tournament
I think the key is dealing with time. Even though the games come thick and fast, there’s a lot of downtime. There’s a lot of time to read a book, read something on your iPad – the point is about managing that time, keeping focus and not letting the occasion get to you.

Greatest EURO memory (playing)
Not because of the result, but my debut, the first game. As a player, being able to walk out in a major tournament was special. That was 2004, 14 years after my professional debut.

Greatest EURO memory (watching)
I’ve watched EUROs in different countries and the beauty of it is that it’s not just a European competition, it’s a global event. I’ve been out in India to cover the EURO for Indian television and everyone’s interested.

Where/how you will be watching
I’ll be going to some of the games – I’ll be covering them for Indian TV and a lot of English media.

Current EURO player you would most like to play alongside
That’s not fair! The game has got quicker and faster technically, players have got so much better. I don’t actually miss playing in a sense.

Gaizka Mendieta
EURO 2000 quarter-finalist with Spain




Gaizka Mendieta scores against France at EURO 2000


Gaizka Mendieta scores against France at EURO 2000Popperfoto via Getty Images

Winner: France
I would love it to be Spain, but going into the tournament France are favourites. They are the reigning world champions, they have the same core as 2018 and have added Karim Benzema, making a sensational squad even stronger.

Player of the tournament: Kylian Mbappé
There are so many. Looking at our lads, I would like it to be Pedri, Álvaro Morata, Gerard Moreno or Ferran Torres. However, if you are just looking at someone on an individual level who stands out for both their ability and how they work in a team, you have to say Mbappé.

Young player of the tournament: Pedri or Phil Foden
Pedri and Foden are two players I really like, but we will have to see how much playing time they get with their respective countries. João Félix could stand out with Portugal.

The EURO record Mendieta shares

Top scorer: undecided!
I would like to see Gerard Moreno or Álvaro Morata up there among the favourites. You obviously need to mention Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as Mbappé, Harry Kane, Antoine Griezmann – although with Benzema’s return perhaps he might not get too many. Kai Havertz could also be a candidate given the strength of the Germany team.

Dark horses: Turkey
The league there has improved a lot, with a lot of players coming through and strengthening the national team. Then there are Belgium, who would not be that much of a surprise, but I do not see them in the favourites’ category.

Breakout star: Burak Yılmaz
At 35, the Turkey striker is not exactly a youngster, but he might be the surprise package. He is in great goalscoring form and plays for a side who I reckon could be dark horses. Every team has players who could be important but might not be guaranteed starters, like Foden, or even Kingsley Coman and Ousmane Dembélé of France.

Top tip for players at a major tournament
For me the squad, how you integrate and get on day-to-day, is really important. You are in each other’s pockets, so need to be surrounded by people with whom you can be comfortable. Then I would tell them to do what they do with their clubs. Players should not lose sight of what got them selected in the first place.

Greatest EURO memory (playing)
The comeback against Yugoslavia at EURO 2000. I think it is one of the greatest comebacks the EURO has ever seen.




EURO 2000 highlights: Yugoslavia 3-4 Spain


EURO 2000 highlights: Yugoslavia 3-4 Spain

Greatest EURO memory (watching)
I remember as a youth watching the Spanish generation of Míchel, Martín Vázquez. I have great memories of EURO ’96, where a lot of my team-mates played. Then there’s 2008 and 2012 that we won. I also fondly remember Paul Gascoigne’s England, Michel Platini’s France, Lothar Matthäus’s Germany and that Netherlands team with Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten.

Best thing about playing at a EURO
It was a dream come true to play at a major tournament. Lots of players play in qualifiers for the EURO or FIFA World Cup but do not get to the tournament. Games are seen all over the world now; it was not like that back in the day, and it was a chance to put yourself on the world stage, showing your skills to a global audience.

Where/how you will be watching
I will be working for different television channels and also with UEFA. I will, in general, be watching from home and television studios; unfortunately, I will not be pitchside.

Current EURO player you would most like to play alongside
I would love to play in the national team with any player, because it means you are playing at a major tournament! There are the likes of Mbappé, Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Benzema, Foden, Kane, Jack Grealish: all great players I would love to share a pitch with.

Gianluca Zambrotta
EURO 2000 finalist with Italy




 Gianluca Zambrotta in action at EURO 2000


Gianluca Zambrotta in action at EURO 2000Bongarts/Getty Images

Winner: Italy
I hope this is Italy’s year after such a long wait, but France have a sensational team.

Player of the tournament: Federico Chiesa
It is easy to name household names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé, Robert Lewandoski, but I hope it will be Chiesa. He has really impressed me this season.

Young player of the tournament: Federico Chiesa
Chiesa again! He is only 23!

Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku
It is difficult to look beyond Lukaku, who spearheaded Inter’s march to the Scudetto and plays for a very strong Belgium side.

Plot the finals yourself in Tournament Predictor


Breakout star: Phil Foden

Foden has really caught the eye this season, and the way [Manchester City boss] Pep Guardiola talks about him, he must be special.

Top tip for players at a major tournament
Experience the tournament in a calm, measured way with your team-mates. In finals like these, the way a squad gels on and off the pitch really makes a difference.

Greatest EURO memory (player)
My debut in 2000. I only broke into the national team in 1999 under Dino Zoff, and the following year I went to the European Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands. A great memory.




Turkey v Italy EURO 2000 highlights


Turkey v Italy EURO 2000 highlights

Greatest EURO memory (watching)
The last EURO under Antonio Conte in 2016 was very good. The last-16 victory over Spain really sticks in the mind, when Giorgio Chiellini scored the opener.

Current EURO player you would most like to play alongside
I was lucky enough to play with Lionel Messi at Barcelona. If I have to think of a current talent, I certainly think of Mbappé. Playing with him every day and understanding his development day by day would be really nice.

Nuno Gomes
EURO 2004 finalist with Portugal




EURO 2020 ambassador: Nuno Gomes


EURO 2020 ambassador: Nuno Gomes

Winner: Portugal
I have to back my country, but we are serious candidates. I think Portugal are in a group of favourites with France and Germany. 

Player of the tournament: Cristiano Ronaldo
I hope it’s a Portuguese player, and Cristiano is definitely a candidate. Kylian Mbappé and Kevin De Bruyne will run him close.

Young player of the tournament: Phil Foden or Mason Mount

Top scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku or Karim Benzema

Dark horses: England, Italy, Belgium

Breakout star: Diogo Jota
The Liverpool man is yet to really cement his place in the national team. Now could be the time.

Top tip for players at a major tournament
Always keep your focus, concentrate on your tasks and don’t waste your opportunities.

Greatest EURO memory (playing)
The goal against England at EURO 2000, in a game we won 3-2. I also fondly remember scoring the only goal against Spain at EURO 2004.




EURO 2000 highlights: Portugal 3-2 England


EURO 2000 highlights: Portugal 3-2 England

Greatest EURO memory (watching)
France against Portugal at EURO 2016 was my best moment as a spectator. Then there’s always Marco van Basten’s goal in 1988 or Jordão’s strike against France in 1984. That game [France vs Portugal in 1984] marked my childhood and made me aspire to be a player.

Best thing about playing at a EURO
To be part of a EURO is the pinnacle for a professional player, it’s the top of the pyramid. You’re in a final tournament with the best of the best.

Where/how you will be watching
As a EURO ambassador I expect to be at some venues. It will depend on travel restrictions. The other matches I plan to watch in Portugal, at home, and for some of them I’ll be working for Portuguese TV.

Current EURO player you would most like to play alongside
I’ve played with the best of them, Cristiano Ronaldo! From the Portuguese team I would have liked to play with João Félix and Bernardo Silva – as a striker, I’d have been well-served by those two. I would also have liked to play with Mbappé and N’Golo Kanté.

Steffen Freund
EURO ’96 winner with Germany




Steffen Freund in action at EURO '96


Steffen Freund in action at EURO ’96Bongarts/Getty Images

Winner: France
They have the best squad by far and the individual qualities that can be decisive. There is a back-up for every top player in their squad so every player can be swapped out – this is a very important factor after such a long season.

Player of the tournament: N’Golo Kanté

Young player of the tournament: João Félix

Top scorer: Harry Kane

Dark horses: Germany

Breakout star: Robin Gosens

Top tip for players at a major tournament
Anticipation during the build-up can lead to tension if you want things too much.

Greatest EURO memory (playing)
The EURO ’96 semi-final against England. The atmosphere was unbelievably moving. When 80,000 people start singing and don’t stop until the match is over, it’s difficult to grasp.




EURO '96 semi-final highlights: England v Germany


EURO ’96 semi-final highlights: England v Germany

Greatest EURO memory (watching)
Michael Ballack scoring with a fantastic free-kick against Austria in 2008.

Best thing about playing at a EURO
You develop a feeling that you have made it to the very top as a footballer.

Where/how you will be watching
I will watch all matches as a pundit or fan and will be thrilled to watch the action.

Current EURO player you would most like to play alongside
Joshua Kimmich because he is the complete package – creativity, defensive qualities, determination and ambition.



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How Euro 2020 Was Saved


Cancellation, according to Ceferin, would have been a devastating financial blow, imperiling the future of some of the federations that rely on stipends from European soccer’s governing body for their existence.

“If you postpone, you can negotiate, and the loss is smaller,” Ceferin said. “But if you say, ‘We will not play at all,’ this is a big, big financial impact.”

After a couple of weeks of assessing their options — which included raising and then dismissing the possibility of staging the entire tournament in Russia or England — and discussions involving a dizzying array of partners, from politicians to stadium owners, sponsors and broadcasters, the hard work to save the multinational mosaic started again.

The first few calls were easy. Rescheduling the tournament for the same dates a year later solved the scheduling concerns, and since the merchandise with the Euro 2020 branding had been shipped, the tournament’s name would stay, too.

By the fall of 2020, in fact, it had been decided to stick as close to the original plan as possible, with one important guarantee: Even amid the pandemic, each host city would have to make provisions to allow fans to attend the matches.

The requirement seemed onerous and led to some tense exchanges between UEFA and national and regional governments. The decision, officials said, was partly made out of financial necessity — UEFA’s financial projections for the tournament have been revised downward by at least 300 million euros ($366 million) — but organizers also felt the return of fans, even in reduced capacities, was symbolically important.

“We want to come back to normality in life, and we want to come back to normality in football stadiums,” Kallen said. Crowds at a big event like the Euros, UEFA had decided, would send that signal.



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Visit Spearfish celebrates success in 2020 | Local News


SPEARFISH — Since 2009, Visit Spearfish has been marketing and branding the city of Spearfish to tourists and visitors from throughout the country. As travel and tourism took a major dip in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Spearfish was still able to pull off some impressive victories which were highlighted during its annual meeting and awards presentation.

“One of the major things of note, of course, is that despite the challenges of 2020, we were able to see through local vending that hospitality tax ended up above 2019, which is just absolutely unheard of,” said Mistie Caldwell, executive director of Visit Spearfish.

Caldwell said the city has not seen a dip in hospitality tax since 2015. Instead, that number has incrementally, but steadily increased, with a 2% jump in 2020 to $719,986.22.

Although spending was up in the areas of retail and food and beverages, where hospitality tax is collected, hotel bid fees were down in 2020 by nearly 20%, meaning people were visiting Spearfish, just not staying in Spearfish.

“It was a tough year on our hoteliers,” Caldwell said. “Even though people weren’t able to travel the desire to travel was there.”

Caldwell said increased web traffic and requests for visitor guides to Spearfish were way up in the later half of 2020 as folks began to plan their pandemic break-out vacations for 2021.

“In the fourth quarter of 2020, over the fourth quarter of 2019, we saw an increase in visitor guide requests of over 25%,” she said.

Those folks taking an interest in Spearfish were treated to Caldwell’s marketing team highlighting the wide-open outdoor offerings of Spearfish. From open-air shopping and dining, to adventure destination getaways.

“We were able to do all that while communicating a safe travel message, which was, of course at the center of any of our communications,” she said.

That marketing, along with sponsoring local events that bring people in from all over the country makes up more than 40% of Visit Spearfish’s spending, which has clearly already begun to pay off for the city.

“Hospitality tax in just the month of April, is up 48% (from April 2020),” Caldwell said. “Year-to-year, so going back January through April, we’re up 8% year to date.”

With hotels and campgrounds “busting at the seams,” Caldwell said she’s already seen 36 of the 50 states represented in tourists passing through the Visit Spearfish’s downtown building.

“(Not including 2020) our visitor center traffic is 20% higher than it has been any other year,” she said.

Caldwell said the fact that so many Spearfish events take place outside, and all that the area has to offer for outdoor recreation has been a great help to keeping the flow of visitors to Spearfish strong. However, vaccinated visitors become more common place, allowing for indoor activities to safely start back up, she said she’s equally excited to see the brick-and-mortar businesses in town enjoy the fruits of Visit Spearfish’s marketing efforts.

“It’s going to be fantastic to see the Matthew’s Opera House be able to pull off “Alice in Wonderland” and for the High Plains Western Heritage Center to have their cowboy supper and show,” she said. “I’m very excited for our partners to be able to have those opportunities to come back. We’re really excited to support that.”

Along with highlighting the successes of a very difficult year, and the optimistic outlook for the year to come, two awards were presented during the annual get together.

“Each year (the Tip of the Spear Award) focus on someone or an organization that focuses on building or growing a signature Spearfish event, which of course is good for the economy and it’s helpful to us,” Caldwell explained.

This year, Visit Spearfish recognized Frank Pavich and the Black Hills Nationals AAU World Folkstyle Wrestling Tournament.

“Frank, his wife Kit and Paul Soriano dedicate hundreds of hours to ensuring the wrestlers and their families, as well as the Spearfish community benefit from the toils of all their labors,” Caldwell said. “Thank you to the entire Black Hills Nationals Team for making Spearfish the home for your event.”

The Friend of Spearfish Award is presented to a group or person that plays an integral role in the marketing and promotion of Spearfish as a partner with Visit Spearfish.

“The essence of this award is to recognize businesses or individuals who are the “behind-the-scenes” partners who contribute to the overall success of the organization and its efforts,” Caldwell said.

The 2021 Friend of Spearfish Award was presented to Digital Designs for their creative web design and online advertising which has brought the beauty of Spearfish to the fingertips of America.

To read all of today’s stories, Click here or call 642-2761 to subscribe to our e-edition or home delivery.



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Memorial Day weekend travel expected to increase 60% compared to 2020 | News


On Memorial Day weekend, Americans are traveling again. 

 

Thanks in part to declining COVID-19 case rates and increased vaccination rates, AAA (The Automobile Association of America) predicts a 60% increase in Memorial Day weekend travelers in 2021 compared to 2020. Despite the encouraging increase, it’s still about 6 million fewer travelers than pre-pandemic norms. 

 

Still, Americans are hitting the road or the skies this weekend, including right here in the Inland Northwest. 

 

While getting gas, Agustin Salgado tells of his family’s plan to head to Silverwood Theme Park for the weekend. 

 

“We’re going to go over to Silverwood Park, enjoy time with family,” he says. 

 

Packed into a large van, Agustin has quite a few family members with him on the trip, smiling and taking photos while he talks to us. He says it’s the first time in a while they’ve been able to get together, and says he thinks the COVID-19 vaccine played a major role in allowing this trip to Silverwood to happen. 

 

“Most of us are already vaccinated, just two kids who aren’t eligible.”

 

However, as more people hit the road for the holiday, gas prices have soared to the highest Memorial Day totals in seven years, and it can feel like pulling teeth at the pump. Especially for another traveler, Trevor, who is towing a trailer up north for a music event. 

“Yeah, I don’t even want to look and see what’s going on back there when I’m filling this thing up,” he says with a laugh, “It’s pretty brutal.”

 

Still, with full tanks, Agustin and Trevor head on their ways. 

 

While a vast majority of Americans traveling this weekend are choosing to do so by driving, about two and a half million are expected to fly to their Memorial Day destinations. But even as cases decline, vaccinations increase, and many state and local governments give the green light to drop mask requirements, airports are a different story. 

 

Mask mandates remain in place while flying or in airports (and other forms of public transportation such as buses), as evident by the numerous signs and masked up employees at Spokane International Airport. One Minnesota woman, traveling to Spokane along with her family on their way to visit Coeur d’Alene, says it was the first time she has flown in over a year, but didn’t notice much of a difference. 

 

“Since this is my first time since before (the pandemic) it felt good,” Gina Peterson says, “I wasn’t nervous or anything. It felt pretty normal other than wearing a mask.”

 

However, for some, the masks are still a nuisance. 

 

“I’m pretty tired of the mask mandate, I’ll tell you that,” Logan Peters says as he waits to depart on a trip from Spokane to a wedding in Nebraska. Even though he isn’t a fan of the mask requirement, it isn’t crushing his excitement for the trip. 

 

“It’s great, get a few days off work, right?”

 

The CDC recommends that if you are unvaccinated but traveling this weekend to practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, and get tested for COVID-19 before you travel.



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