Fingerprint Biometrics and the Return of Travel: This Week’s News Roundup

Fingerprint Biometrics and the Return of Travel: This Week's News Roundup

This week’s roundup of FindBiometrics’ top stories encompasses a range of topics and geographies, but fingerprint biometrics and international travel stand out as the two central themes.

In Europe, Norway-based IDEX Biometrics got some attention this week with its call for financial services providers to embrace biometric payment cards in their efforts to comply with the European Union’s PSD2 regulations for Strong Customer Authentication. Fingerprint-scanning cards can enable companies to fulfill the SCA requirement for two-factor authentication when a payer initiates a transaction:

IDEX Pushes Biometric Cards for PSD2 Compliance

Germany’s DERMALOG also had some fingerprint-related news this week thanks to a biometric technology competition run in Italy. DERMALOG’s liveness detection technology enabled it to beat rivals in the University of Cagliari’s latest LivDet competition, which assesses software designed to resist presentation attacks:

DERMALOG Wins Fingerprint Liveness Detection Competition

Moving on to the travel sector, Innovatrics attracted some attention with its news that a new airport in Honduras will be deploying its SmartFace facial recognition technology. While airport deployments of facial recognition technology have been on the rise in recent years, the technology is generally used for border control and passenger processing, whereas Innovatrics’ tech will notably be used for venue security at the Palmerola airport:

Innovatrics Provides Facial Recognition Tech for Honduras Airport

FindBiometrics readers also took to the seas this week via news concerning a partnership between Royal Caribbean Group and Smart Engines. The cruise line operator has opted to use Smart Engines’ document scanning technology to streamline the boarding and departure process:

Smart Engines Provides Screening Services for Royal Caribbean

And finally, readers showed sustained interest this week in a discussion about identity verification more broadly. Ping Identity Head of Personal Identity Armin Ebrahimi spoke with FindBiometrics Editor in Chief Peter Counter in a fireside chat that touched on digital onboarding, AML and KYC compliance, and adapting security to risk. The chat is now available on-demand:

WATCH NOW: The Future of Identity Verification


Stay tuned to FindBiometrics for the latest news from the exciting world of biometrics. You can also visit our sibling site Mobile ID World to read the latest about digital identity.

October 16, 2021 – by Alex Perala

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Health News Roundup: U.S. CDC warns against travel to Sri Lanka, Jamaica, and Brunei; Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Theranos founder’s defense may turn on state of mind, experts say

As Elizabeth Holmes’ fraud trial gets underway this week, lawyers for the former Silicon Valley entrepreneur may try to show she was a true believer in the blood-testing technology at her startup Theranos Inc, and never intended to defraud investors and patients, legal experts said. On Wednesday, federal jurors in San Jose, California will hear opening arguments in the case against the Stanford University dropout who once dazzled Silicon Valley and is now charged with misleading investors and patients by falsely claiming that the company’s printer-sized devices could run a range of tests and produce accurate results using a single drop of blood.

75% of U.S. adults have taken at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine – CDC

75% of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday morning, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The agency said 193,798,688 of adults have had at least one shot, while 165,947,460 people, or 64.3% of the adult population, are fully vaccinated.

U.S. CDC warns against travel to Sri Lanka, Jamaica, and Brunei

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday warned against travel to Sri Lanka, Jamaica and Brunei because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The CDC raised its travel advisory to “Level 4: Very High” for those countries, telling Americans they should avoid travel there.

Factbox – Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

President Joe Biden on Thursday will present a six-pronged strategy intended to fight the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant and increase U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations, the White House said on Tuesday. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

Spain authorises booster COVID-19 shots for severely immunocompromised people

Spain’s healthcare regulator approved on Tuesday a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines for people with severely compromised immune systems who are likely to have weaker protection from the conventional two-dose inoculation schemes. The so-called booster shot should be administered 28 days after the previous one in some cases, and preferably the same type of vaccine is to be used, the Public Health Commission said in a statement. It would not say how many people could get such shots.

Mexican Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion in historic shift

Mexico’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Tuesday that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional, a major victory for advocates of women’s health and human rights, just as parts of the United States enact tougher laws against the practice. The court ruling in the majority Roman Catholic nation follows moves to decriminalize abortion at state level, although most of the country still has tough laws in place against women terminating their pregnancy early.

AstraZeneca boss Soriot says do not rush needlessly into COVID booster vaccines – The Telegraph

AstraZeneca Plc Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said booster COVID vaccine doses may not be needed for everyone in Britain and rushing into a nationwide rollout of third doses risks piling extra pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), the Telegraph reported on Tuesday. “We need the weight of the clinical evidence gathered from real world use before we can make an informed decision on a third dose,” Soriot wrote in the newspaper.

Biden to outline plan to curb coronavirus Delta variant as cases grow

President Joe Biden on Thursday will present a six-pronged strategy intended to fight the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant and increase U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations, the White House said on Tuesday. The United States, which leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths, is struggling to stem a wave of infections driven by the variant even as officials try to persuade Americans who have resisted vaccination to get the shots. Rising case loads have raised concerns as children head back to school, while also rattling investors and upending company return-to-office plans.

Venezuela receives first batch of vaccines through COVAX mechanism

Venezuela has received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines through the COVAX mechanism intended for poor countries, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Tuesday, after months of delays the government attributed to U.S. sanctions. The South American country has received 693,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac Biotech, the first of a total of 11 million it will receive through COVAX, overseen by the GAVI alliance and the World Health Organization.

Bristol-Myers to require U.S., Puerto Rico staff to be vaccinated

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co will require all its employees working in the United States and Puerto Rico to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus effective Nov. 1, the drugmaker said on Tuesday. In the face of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, spurred by the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant, many U.S. companies have come out with mask mandates and changed their vaccination policies.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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Roundup: Rfider links COVID-19 test with digital health pass for travel, Vietnam’s tourism app features health declaration form and more briefs

New Zealand-based Rfider links COVID-19 test with digital health pass for travel

New Zealand software firm Rfider has enabled a COVID-19 test in Singapore to connect with a digital health pass for international travel.

In a statement, the company said it has been chosen by Invitrocue, a Singapore-based bioanalytic solutions provider, to empower its saliva-based antigen and PCR-based COVID-19 tests with a technology that allows tracking, tracing and verification. 

Through Rfider’s platform, the Invitrocue tests provide users with a unique ID that helps prevent counterfeiting and enables test results authentication. 

It is also able to securely send the test reports to their mobile devices to be used as a travel pass. 

Rfider says its technology has established compatibility with the Verity platform for such a purpose. Created by self-sovereign identity applications developer Evernym, the said platform is behind the digital health pass of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is now being trialled at over 40 airlines globally, including the Australian flag carrier Qantas

“We are pleased to be working with Rfider to make this possible. With this partnership, individuals will be able to store their health data securely on their mobile device and privately share it with trusted providers and authorities with the tap of a button,” Evernym VP of Product James Monaghan said.

The Rfider technology, according to chief executive John Pennington, helps cut down the time to deliver test reports to workers at hospitality and tourism venues, which in turn, ushers in the recovery of in-person events around the world. 

Dr Stephen Fang, executive director of Invitrocue, said its partnership with Rfider enabled them to “scale the deployment” of their testing platform and deliver results to users and even to decision makers in “real-time”. “It is a step-change in not only the way testing is conducted but how we can get better data faster,” he added.

Health declaration form integrated in Vietnam’s tourism app 

Vietnam’s mobile tourism app called “Du lick Viet Nam an toan” now features a health declaration form.

According to a news report, the inclusion of the health declaration form, which connects to a system managed by the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, is part of health authorities’ efforts to enhance their pandemic response. Adding the new feature also removes the need for users to switch to another platform just to fill out the form.

Launched last year in October by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the mobile app contains a digital map that shows information on restaurants, hotels, apartments, entertainment places, transport providers, hospitals and pharmacies.

The tourism app also provides the most updated information about the COVID-19 situation in any destination, including details about infection cases and the number of recovered patients.

Developers are working to add other features, such as COVID-19 safety verification, COVID-19 vaccine certification, health records, travel insurance and e-tickets.

The news report noted that due to the prevailing travel restrictions and border closures, there were only about 105,000 international tourist arrivals recorded in the country in the first eight months of 2021, a 97% decline compared to the same period in 2020. 

Indian medical news portal goes mobile

Medical Dialogues, an online medical news portal in India, has launched its mobile app for Android and iOS devices. 

The Google news-registered portal provides medical news, guidelines, interesting cases and news about the healthcare industry. It claims to have over two million visits each month. The news site has a HONcode certification for bringing authentic health information on the internet.

Its development, according to the company, comes following demand from over 600,000 medical fraternities who are registered users of the portal.

Aiming to empower and update doctors with medical knowledge, the app contains new features such as video library, webinars for doctors and interactive modules like quizzes, surveys and polls.

“As the pioneer of risk management in the country, doctors have to be associated with the medical updates under the COVID-19 guidelines as the virus is taking a new shape every week. Doctors need to be updated with the latest information about COVID-19. With maintaining the dictum of offering the best service, Medical Dialogues has launched the app for healthcare and medical professionals,” Dr Prem Aggarwal, co-founder of Medical Dialogues, said.

Vietnamese-American charity group extends free teleconsultations to COVID-19 patients in Vietnam

Vietnamese-American charity organisation Good Samaritan Medical Dental Ministry has collaborated with the provinces of Dong Nai and Tien Giang in Vietnam to deliver free remote doctor consultations with COVID-19 patients at home.

According to a news report, a telemedicine system will be used to connect the patients with doctors in the US and Vietnam for virtual consultations. 

The report noted that Dong Nai and Tien Giang are among southern provinces in the country that reported high incidences of COVID-19 infections. In Dong Nai, for instance, around 23,000 citizens have contracted the disease with over 200 people already dead.

The charity group said they could accommodate between 200 and 300 COVID-19 patients for consultations “every four hours”. They also offered help to deliver blood oxygen monitoring devices and oxygen concentrators from the government to patients needing them.

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Hospitality Ireland Presents Round-Up Of Latest Airline, Aviation And Travel News

Hospitality Ireland presents a round-up of the latest airline, aviation and travel news from around the world.

American Airlines August Revenue Trending Below Forecast

American Airlines has said that its August revenue is trending below the US carrier’s internal forecast as a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases led to some softness in bookings.

American’s chief revenue officer, Vasu Raja, speaking at the Raymond James industrials conference, said that the airline is also experiencing a rise in cancellations.

COVID-19 cases, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, have surged in parts of the United States with lower vaccination levels.

However, Raja added that the company’s booked business for the holidays remained “incredibly strong”.

The carrier expects business demand to likely come back in the transatlantic and Latin American regions, given their proximity to the United States.

American shares have risen 26.6% so far this year.

The US could get COVID-19 under control by early next year if vaccinations ramp up, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Doctor Anthony Fauci, said on Tuesday August 24, as Pfizer won full FDA approval for its shot, with more potential approvals coming in the weeks ahead.

Qantas Preparing For International Travel From December As Loss Narrows

Qantas Airways Ltd has said that it is preparing for international travel with countries with high vaccine rates to resume in December, sending shares higher, as it recorded a narrower annual loss of A$1.73 billion ($1.26 billion).

The airline, which grounded its international fleet in March of 2020 due to closed borders, said it planned to bring back five of its 12 Airbus SE A380 super-jumbos from mid-2022 to fly to the United States and Britain, a year earlier than previously forecast.

It is a hopeful sign for travel in the Asia-Pacific region, where borders are largely closed and international travel is 95% below pre-COVID-19 levels, though the Qantas plan is dependent on government decisions and could be delayed. Shares rose as much as 3.7% to the highest levels since April.

Australia set a target last month for 80% of adults to be fully vaccinated for a calibrated reopening of its international borders.

At present, more than half the population is locked down due to COVID-19 outbreaks and just over 30% are fully vaccinated, though forecasts say the country could reach 80% by the end of the year as more doses of imported vaccines arrive.

Pending government decisions, Qantas said it expected flights to countries with high vaccine rates like Singapore, Japan, the United States, Britain and hopefully New Zealand to resume from mid-December.

Flights to places with lower vaccination rates like Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and South Africa would restart from April 2022 at the earliest, it added.

“One of the biggest unknowns is the quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers entering Australia,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said. “If it’s 14 days in a hotel, demand levels will be very low. A shorter period with additional testing and the option to isolate at home will see a lot more people travel.”

The airline forecasts international capacity will reach 30% to 40% of pre-COVID levels in the third quarter and 50% to 70% in the fourth quarter.

It will not revisit an order for up to 12 Airbus SE A350 planes capable of non-stop Sydney to London flights until borders reopen, Joyce told analysts, adding the earliest the flights could start would be 2024 or 2025.

The company will also retire two A380s and has pushed back delivery of three Boeing Co 787-9s and two A321neos by a year.

Qantas reported underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of A$410 million for the 12 months ended June 30, in line with the average figure expected by 11 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

“Overall, with vaccination rates continuing to increase, the outlook beyond FY22 remains positive for Qantas, which remains a key COVID recovery stock,” Jefferies analyst Anthony Moulder told clients.

The statutory loss of A$1.73 billion, including impairments and restructuring charges, was better than last year’s A$1.96 billion loss.

The airline reported A$3.8 billion of liquidity as of June 30, down A$200 million from April 30.

The domestic market had performed strongly in the fourth quarter when state borders, often closed at times of small COVID-19 outbreaks, had been largely open.

But the country’s most populous city, Sydney, has been in lockdown since the end of June and the airline this month said it was temporarily idling about 2,500 employees without pay for at least two months as it cut capacity due to lower demand.

Qantas said that recent outbreaks and the suspension of a travel bubble with New Zealand were expected to lower the company’s underlying EBITDA by around A$1.4 billion in the first half.

Domestic capacity is expected to rise to 53% of pre-COVID-19 levels in the second quarter and then to approximately 110% of pre-COVID-19 levels in the second half.

Creditors File Winding Up Petition For Air Seychelles

Holders of approximately $70 million in troubled bonds issued on behalf of state-owned Air Seychelles have filed a petition to wind up the African airline, they have said in a statement, after a standoff over the unpaid debt.

The move is the latest effort by creditors to recover $1.2 billion owed by Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and airlines it partly owned when the debt was issued in 2015 and 2016, such as Air Seychelles.

At the time, Etihad owned 40% of Air Seychelles and it was in a consortium along with the Gulf airline and other carriers that borrowed the money through special purpose vehicle EA Partners.

“The Noteholder Committee (acting on behalf of the EA Partners bondholders)…filed a petition dated 19 August 2021 for the winding-up of Air Seychelles, and on 24 August 2021, such petition was served on, and acknowledged by, Air Seychelles,” the creditors said in a statement.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, Air Seychelles said it was struggling to honour its $71.5 million portion of the EA Partners debt and started restructuring talks with a steering committee of creditors in July.

A Seychelles government official told Reuters in May that Air Seychelles wound not pay more than $20 million to settle the debt.

The creditors said on Wednesday that they were still open to work with the government, the airline’s sole shareholders, to reach a resolution to the debt challenges.

But they said that there had been no “substantive engagement, nor any sense of urgency” from either Air Seychelles or the government, leaving no choice but to file a petition for the winding up of the airline to recover the money due.

Air Seychelles declined to comment.

Etihad is not legally obliged to back the bonds as the original $1.2 billion deals envisaged each carrier paying off its own portion of the debt, according to the debt documentation reviewed by Reuters.

British Airways Mulls Options For Short-Haul Ops At London’s Gatwick Airport

British Airways is working on options for its short-haul operations at London’s Gatwick Airport, seeking to curb costs in the face of stiff competition and tight restrictions in its home market.

The company, owned by London-listed International Airlines Group (IAG), did not specify what the proposals were, but the Wall Street Journal had earlier that the airline was considering folding the operations into a new unit.

“We are working with our unions on proposals for a short-haul operation at Gatwick. We are not prepared to comment further while this process continues,” the airline said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.

The pandemic recovery at British Airways, usually IAG’s most profitable airline, has fallen behind the group’s Spanish units Iberia and Vueling as Britain steered through tougher and longer restrictions than Europe.

IAG itself has adopted a more cautious tone on recovery than its competitors. In July, the company forecast summer capacity would rise to just 45% of pre-pandemic levels versus outlooks of 60% to 70% from Air France-KLM, EasyJet and Ryanair.

India Clears Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft To Fly

India’s air safety regulator has said on that it has cleared Boeing Co’s 737 MAX aircraft to fly with immediate effect, ending its nearly two-and-a-half-years of regulatory grounding in a key travel market for the plane maker.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in its order that it has closely monitored the 737 MAX’s global un-grounding trend, and has found “no untoward reporting” with 34 airlines across the world currently operating 345 MAX planes.

The 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people, plunging Boeing into a financial crisis, since compounded by the pandemic.

“The DGCA’s decision is an important milestone toward safely returning the 737 MAX to service in India,” Boeing said in a statement, adding that it continues to work with regulators and customers to return the airplane to service worldwide.

Approximately 175 countries have allowed the 737 MAX to return to service following the ban, leaving China as the only major market where regulators are yet to give the MAX a go-ahead. Boeing, earlier this month, conducted a test flight of the MAX plane in China.

The clearance will give Boeing the ability to make a stronger sales pitch for its narrowbody planes in India where rival Airbus dominates the skies with its family of A320 aircraft.

While Boeing still dominates India’s widebody market, its share of narrowbody planes fell sharply after the demise of one of its biggest customers, Jet Airways. Jet was recently rescued from bankruptcy and is expected to fly again.

India’s SpiceJet Ltd is Boeing’s biggest and only customer for the MAX planes in the country. It has more than 100 of the planes on order.

However, Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s plans to launch a new ultra low-cost airline could give Boeing an opportunity to regain lost ground. One industry source said the new venture, Akasa, was already moving towards 737s.

SpiceJet did not immediately respond to a request for comment after the regulator’s clearance.

SpiceJet Expects To Restart Boeing 737 MAX Service By Next Month

SpiceJet  has said that it expects Boeing Co’s grounded 737 MAX jets in its fleet to return to service at the end of September following a settlement struck with lessor Avolon on leases of the aircraft.

The resumption of MAX aircraft services would be subject to regulatory approvals, SpiceJet, India’s second-largest airline by market share and the only one in the country to fly the aircraft, said. Avolon declined to comment.

SpiceJet, which said earlier this month it was in discussions with lessors of MAX aircraft to restructure present leases, did not provide any further details on the settlement.

With easing of the travel restrictions and increasing pace of vaccinations, there might be some pick-up in air traffic and SpiceJet’s settlement to restart MAX aircraft could help it get back on track, said Likhita Chepa, senior research analyst at CapitalVia Global Research.

“However, higher ATF (Air Turbine Fuel) prices might hurt margins and operability,” Chepa added.

With 13 of its 737 MAX planes grounded, SpiceJet had said it was in talks with Boeing for compensation towards costs and losses it has suffered.

Boeing continues to work with global regulators to safely return the 737-8 and 737-9 to service, the US plane maker said in a statement to Reuters, while declining to comment on the compensation.

SpiceJet shares had fallen 25.1% this year as of Thursday August 26 close compared to a 1.3% rise in shares of rival Indigo’s owner InterGlobe Aviation.

Russia Fines $17.5m For Violating Competition Law

Russia’s federal anti-monopoly service (FAS) has slapped a 1.3 billion rouble ($17.52 million) fine on hotel reservation website for violating anti-monopoly law, the regulator has said.

The fine from the FAS comes nine months after it accused the company of violating Russia’s competition law, saying that “abused its dominant position on the market.”

According to Russian anti-monopoly law, a company could face a fine of between 1% and 15% of its annual revenue generated in Russia. said that it is plannning to appeal the FAS decision, TASS news agency reported.

Virgin Australia To Add Nine Planes To Its Fleet Ahead Of Expected Travel Rebound

Virgin Australia has said that it will add nine Boeing Co 737-800 planes to its fleet from October in preparation for an expected increase in domestic travel as vaccination rates rise and state borders reopen.

The airline said that the increased capacity would bring its fleet to 77 planes and help it meet its target of gaining a one-third share of the domestic market, where it competes against Qantas Airways Ltd and Regional Express Holdings Ltd.

“These extra aircraft are an important part of our planning and ensure we’re ready to ramp up flying and meet the pent-up demand for domestic travel as soon as the opportunity presents itself,” Virgin Chief Executive Jayne Hrdlicka said in a statement.

Under the ownership of US private equity group Bain Capital, Virgin has been rebuilding its fleet of 737s after emerging from voluntary administration last year and handing back many of its planes to lessors.

Virgin had 85 737s as of June 30, 2020, according to a report from administrator Deloitte that included four at its now-closed budget airline Tigerair Australia, so its fleet will still be smaller than pre-COVID levels.

The recovery in the Australian domestic aviation market has been hindered by recent lockdowns affecting more than half of the country’s population, which have led airlines to cut capacity and idle thousands of workers without pay.

Southwest Airlines Cuts Flights To Fix Operational Challenges

Southwest Airlines will run fewer flights through the end of the year in a bid to fix issues that disrupted operations this summer and led to flight delays and cancellations.

The low-cost carrier has said that it will reduce an average of 27 flights a day from September 7 through Oct. 6 and cut 162 flights a day from October 7 through November 5.

It plans to adjust flight schedules in November and December as well, but said it would protect holiday bookings.

“We’re confident these adjustments will create a more reliable travel experience,” Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement.

The cuts are on top of its recent reductions in response to slower bookings and increased cancellations due to the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Southwest had added more flights to its schedule to capitalize on a recovery in air travel and gain market share. However, like most in the sector, it has struggled to keep up, grappling with staff shortages.

Both American Airlines and Southwest had to cancel summer flights due to the crunch, bad weather and less network flexibility. Now they are recalling crews and resuming hiring.

The Dallas-based airline said it was “aggressively” hiring.

To deal with staff crunch, Southwest is recalling employees, who are on voluntary leave. The company expects to have all of those employees back by the end of the year.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

Ireland-Based Airborne Capital Joins Force With Asia’s Mercuria For New Business

Ireland-based aviation financier Airborne Capital, which specialises in leasing and managing aircraft and has assets of approximately $1 billion (€850 million), is joining forces with Asian investment manager Mercuria on a Japanese venture to cash in on likely increased institutional demand for aircraft leasing opportunities.

As reported by The Irish Times, the Irish company, which was founded in 2017, said that it and its partner are founding a new business called Mercuria Airborne Capital that will cater for Japanese investors that are seeking to get involved in aviation.

Airborne Capital reportedly noted that despite the adverse impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on travel, aircraft investments are continuing to provide good returns, and reportedly added that it and its partner are founding the joint venture because they believe that institutional investors will play an increased role in aviation leasing.

Airbourne Capital chief executive Ramki Sundaram reportedly said that Mercuria Airborne Capital will “offer institutional investors in Japan access to a growing range of attractive investment opportunities in the global aviation finance sector”, while Mercuria chief executive Toshihiro Toyoshima reportedly said that the partnership with Airborne Capital is an “exciting step”.

Mercuria reportedly manages approximately $2 billion in assets from offices in Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

Source link | Wednesday COVID-19 Roundup: LA County Updates Travel Guidelines; 28,068 Total SCV Cases

L.A. County Public Health confirmed today five new deaths and 226 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, with 28,068 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Of the five new deaths reported today, two people that passed away were over the age of 80, one person who died was between the ages of 65 and 79, and one person who died was between the ages of 50 and 64. One death was reported by the City of Long Beach.

The county has updated their travel guidelines to better align them with the state and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The guidelines ask those who are sick to not travel or if the individual has a recent positive COVID-19 test result, or if they are waiting for a test to return.

“We send our deepest condolences to everyone mourning the loss of someone they love due to COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “As physical distancing requirements, capacity limits, and masking mandates are now relaxed, ensuring the safety of those who are not yet vaccinated is essential. Workplaces need to offer sensible precautions that reduce possible COVID-19 transmission.  This can include providing unvaccinated employees with respirators and maintaining partitions to protect workers who otherwise would be in sustained close contact with others. Until we reach community immunity, public health safety measures including masking and distancing are the tools that can protect those not yet vaccinated.”

To date, Public Health identified 1,246,821 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 24,421 deaths.

Reopening Guidelines for Vaccinated/Unvaccinated County Residents

Since June 15, workplaces remain under the current Cal/OSHA standards which continue to require distancing and masking for all employees. The Cal/OSHA standards board may vote on proposed modifications to the current standards on Thursday.

Masks are also required for everyone regardless of vaccination status on public transit and in transportation hubs; indoors in K-12 schools, child care and other youth settings; healthcare settings, including long term care facilities; state and local correctional facilities and detention centers; and homeless shelters, emergency shelters, and cooling centers.

People who are not fully vaccinated, including all children between the ages of 2 and 12, are required to wear masks at all indoor public settings and businesses; this includes retail, restaurants, theatres, family entertainment centers, meetings, and state and local government offices serving the public.

Everyone can remove their masks outdoors, except people who are not fully vaccinated attending large outdoor events – they should stay masked. Additionally, everyone has a right to wear a mask; a person may not be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation/entry into a business.

For more information on the County reopening including masking requirements, travel guidance, best practices, and remaining sector protocols, visit:

Santa Clarita Valley Wednesday Update

As of 6 p.m. Monday, the L.A. County Public Health COVID-19 dashboard remains unchanged with 306 deaths among Santa Clarita Valley residents since the pandemic began.

The following is the community breakdown of the 306 SCV residents who have died, according to the L.A. County dashboard:

263 in Santa Clarita

17 in Castaic

6 in Acton

6 in Stevenson Ranch

4 in unincorporated Canyon Country

3 in Agua Dulce

1 in unincorporated Bouquet Canyon

1 in Elizabeth Lake

1 in Lake Hughes

1 in Newhall

1 in unincorporated Saugus/Canyon Country

1 in Valencia

1 in Val Verde

Of the 28,068 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to Public Health for the SCV to date, the community breakdown is as follows:

* City of Santa Clarita: 20,556

* Castaic: 3,742 (incl. Pitchess Detention Center & North County Correctional Facility*)

* Stevenson Ranch: 1,164

* Canyon Country (unincorporated portion): 853

* Acton: 486

* Val Verde: 338

* Agua Dulce: 284

* Valencia (unincorporated portion west of I-5): 196

* Saugus (unincorporated portion): 132

* Elizabeth Lake: 82

* Newhall (Unincorporated portion): 69

* Bouquet Canyon: 49

* Lake Hughes: 42

* Saugus/Canyon Country: 40

* Sand Canyon: 17

* San Francisquito/Bouquet Canyon: 15

* Placerita Canyon: 3

*Note: The county is unable to break out separate numbers for Castaic and PDC/NCCF because the county uses geotagging software that cannot be changed at this time, according to officials. Click here for the LASD COVID-19 dashboard.

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Wednesday Update

As of Wednesday, June 16, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital had zero cases pending, four currently in the hospital, a total of 1,246 patients had been treated and discharged since the pandemic began and no additional deceased, hospital spokesman Patrick Moody said.

The last COVID-related death occurred May 21, 2021.

Privacy laws prohibit Henry Mayo from releasing the community of residence for patients who die at the hospital; residence info is reported by the L.A. County Public Health COVID-19 dashboard, which generally lags 48 hours behind.

California Wednesday Snapshot

Yesterday, the state fully reopened and is moving ‘Beyond the Blueprint,’ announced California Department of Public Health officials.

Statewide, as of Tuesday, June 15, CDPH officials confirmed 3,698,626 COVID-19 cases (up 699) with 62,534 deaths from the disease (up 19) since the pandemic began.

Numbers may not represent true day-over-day change as reporting of test results can be delayed.

As of June 15, local health departments have reported 112,159 confirmed positive cases in health care workers and 466 deaths statewide.

The 7-day positivity rate is 0.8%.

There have been 67,989,072 tests conducted in California. This represents an increase of 87,672 during the prior 24-hour reporting period.

As of June 16, providers have reported administering a total of 39,928,211 vaccine doses statewide.

The CDC reports that 47,261,000 doses have been delivered to entities within the state.

Numbers do not represent true day-to-day change as reporting may be delayed.

See more California information later in this report.

From now through July 4th, Uber and Lyft are offering 4 free rides (up to 25$ each) to and from vaccination sites.

L.A. County Vaccine Update

To stay in this good place with low COVID-19 transmission after reopening, Public Health will continue to get vaccines and high-quality information to people who aren’t yet vaccinated.

“We remain committed to protecting your health and to closing gaps in health outcomes associated with COVID-19,” said Ferrer. “Case counts and transmission are low because of our shared efforts to implement a layered approach to preventing transmission.”

Public Health is partnering with businesses and community-based and faith-based organizations countywide, with mobile vaccination teams making nearly 270 visits each week to the places where people shop, worship, and gather.

Unvaccinated people need to remain very careful and wear masks when they are around people outside their household, and if in close contact with others, including at worksites, they should consider upgrading their masks to a respirator, such as an N95, or a KN95. These masks do a much better job protecting the wearer from other people’s germs.

“As we reopen, we are mindful that for those not yet vaccinated, protection is highly dependent on our continued actions to take care of each other,” said Ferrer. “Sensible protections for our essential workforce will be instrumental in keeping transmission of COVID-19 in check.”

For anyone that gets sick, you need to take the right steps to prevent further spreading the virus. That means getting tested if you have symptoms, staying home and keeping a distance from people in your households, especially unvaccinated people, and working with the County’s contact tracers to help protect others.

The County is transitioning from the four larger capacity vaccination sites to community sites accessible by public transit.

The California State University Northridge site’s last day of operations was Jun 7; vaccinations will continue to be available to nearby residents at the Balboa Sports Complex vaccination site.

If you received your first dose at the California State University Northridge site, you can receive your second dose at the nearby Balboa Sports Complex site.

The Pomona Fairplex, Forum, and LACOE/Downey large capacity vaccination sites closed June 13 with new community sites set to open on Tuesday, June 15 at Ted Watkins Memorial Park in South L.A., the Commerce Senior Citizens Center in the City of Commerce, and the Norwalk Arts and Sports Complex in the City of Norwalk.

Public Health continues to build an extensive network with pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, hospitals, health clinics, and community vaccination sites, including these large-capacity sites:

* Dodger Stadium (operated by the city of Los Angeles)

* College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91355

* Palmdale Oasis Park Recreation Center, 3850 E Ave S, Palmdale, CA 93550

* California State University, Los Angeles, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles 90032 (operated by FEMA)

Vaccination Sweepstakes

Public Health continues to urge unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. Through Thursday, June 17 at County-run vaccination sites, participating LA city and mobile sites, and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center sites, everyone 18 and older coming to get their first vaccine or who brings a first-time vaccine recipient with them to their second dose appointment, will have an opportunity to win a pair of season tickets to the 2021-2022 home season of the Clippers, the Rams, or the Chargers. Official rules and participating site locations are posted online on the Los Angeles County Vaccination Sweepstakes page.

Visit: (English) and (Spanish) to learn how to make an appointment at vaccination sites. If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

L.A. County Public Health’s Reopening Protocols, COVID-19 Surveillance Interactive Dashboard, Roadmap to Recovery, Recovery Dashboard, and additional things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website,

 covid-19 roundup

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

Each week, the California Department of Public Health updates the number of cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) reported in the state.

As of June 14, there have been 541 cases of MIS-C have been reported statewide.

MIS-C is a rare inflammatory condition associated with COVID-19 that can damage multiple organ systems. MIS-C can require hospitalization and be life-threatening.

Parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms of MIS-C including fever that does not go away, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling tired.

Although very rare, COVID-19 cases among children can sometimes result a few weeks later in very serious illness known as Multi-symptom Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).

Vaccine Eligibility Update

As of May 13, vaccination appointments for individuals aged 12+ can be made by visiting The consent of a parent or legal guardian may be needed for those between the ages of 12 and 17 to receive a vaccination. For more information on the vaccine effort, visit Vaccinate All 58.

Tracking COVID-19 in California

* State Dashboard – Daily COVID-19 data

* County Map – Local data

* Data and Tools – Models and dashboards for researchers, scientists, and the public

* COVID-19 Race & Ethnicity Data – Weekly updated Race & Ethnicity data

* Cases and Deaths by Age Group – Weekly updated Deaths by Age Group data

* Health Equity Dashboard – See how COVID-19 highlights existing inequities in health

* Tracking Variants – Data on the variants California is currently monitoring

* Safe Schools for All Hub – Information about safe in-person instruction

* School Districts Reopening Map – data on public schools and reported outbreaks

California Testing & Turnaround Time

The testing turnaround time dashboardreports how long California patients are waiting for COVID-19 test results.

During the week of May 30 to June 5, the average time patients waited for test results was under one day.

During this same time period, 88% of patients received test results in one day and 97% received them within two days.

Protect Yourself and Your Family: Your Actions Save Lives

Protect yourself, family, friends, and community by following these prevention measures:

* Getting vaccinated when it’s your turn. Californians age 16+ are eligible to make an appointment.

* Avoiding non-essential travel, and practicing self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival if you leave the state.

* Keeping interactions limited to people who live in your household.

* Wearing a cloth face mask when out in public.

* Washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

* Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

* Covering a cough or sneeze with your sleeve or disposable tissue. Wash your hands afterward.

* Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

* Staying away from work, school, or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.

* Staying home except for essential needs/activities following local and state public health guidelines when patronizing approved businesses. To the extent that sectors are re-opened, Californians may leave their homes to work at, patronize, or otherwise engage with those businesses, establishments or activities.

* Getting tested if you believe you’ve been exposed. Free, confidential testing is available statewide.

* Adding your phone to the fight by signing up for COVID-19 exposure notifications from CA Notify.

* Answering the call if a contact tracer from the CA COVID Team or local health department tries to connect.

* Following guidance from public health officials.

California COVID-19 Data and Tools

A wide range of data and analysis guides California’s response to COVID-19. The state is making the data and its analytical tools available to researchers, scientists and the public at

* The Statewide COVID-19 Dashboard

* The California COVID-19 Assessment Tool (CalCAT)

* State Cases and Deaths Associated with COVID-19 by Age Group

* COVID-19 Race & Ethnicity Data

* COVID-19 Hospital Data and Case Statistics

* View additional datasets at the California Open Data Portal (including Testing Data, PPE Logistics Data, Hospital Data, Homeless Impact and more)

Consolidated guidance is available on the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance webpage.

* * * * *

Always check with trusted sources for the latest accurate information about novel coronavirus (COVID-19):

* Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

* California Department of Public Health

* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

* Spanish

* World Health Organization

* Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard

L.A. County residents can also call 2-1-1.

* * * * * | Wednesday COVID-19 Roundup: LA County Updates Travel Guidelines; 28,068 Total SCV Cases Source link | Wednesday COVID-19 Roundup: LA County Updates Travel Guidelines; 28,068 Total SCV Cases

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News Roundup: Vermont Loosens Restrictions For Cross-Border Travel, Outdoor Businesses

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus and more for Friday, April 9.

Want VPR’s daily news in podcast form? Get up to speed in under 15 minutes with The Frequency every weekday morning. How about an email newsletter? Add our daily email briefing to your morning routine.

The latest coronavirus data:


1. Vermont reports 145 additional COVID cases, one more person dies

Vermont reported 145 new COVID-19 infections Friday, as well as one more person dying, bringing the total virus-related deaths to 231.

More than a third of the new cases are in Chittenden County. There were about a dozen cases each in Franklin, Orleans, Rutland, Washington and Windham counties.

Six people are in intensive care due to the virus, among a total of 30 people hospitalized for COVID.

State officials say Vermont is continuing to see high numbers of coronavirus cases due to more contagious variants of the virus and people being more willing to gather. Most of the new cases are among younger people not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine says new infections don’t seem to be concentrated among any particular industry.

“Nothing that’s so dramatic that we would immediately say, ‘Gee, there’s an entire workforce that’s at higher risk than another workforce in the state,’ because that’s not what the data is showing up,” Levine said.

Nearly 45% of Vermont’s 16-and-older population have gotten at least one dose of vaccine so far. Starting Monday, people who are 30 and older will be able to sign up for the vaccine.

– Matthew Smith and Liam Elder-Connors

Corrections commissioner concerned by number of incarcerated people refusing vaccine

Nearly half of the 1,200 people held in Vermont’s prisons have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Department of Corrections.

But officials are concerned by the number of people refusing a shot.

A total of 595 people in DOC custody have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Some 206 people, or about 25% of those offered the shot, have refused it.

Commissioner Jim Baker told lawmakers on Wednesday that was concerning.

“We’re talking with staff now about how we can do an educational piece and try to influence the decision making,” Baker said. “Some of this is just the mistrust individuals have because of their circumstances.”

The commissioner says some incarcerated people also told DOC they’d prefer to get the one-shot vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson.

Baker says he expected the vaccination rate to go up significantly next week when people 30 and older are eligible for shots.

– Liam Elder-Connors

State officials encouraging more BIPOC Vermonters to sign up for vaccine

More than 5,500 Vermonters identifying as Black, Indigenous or as people of color have signed up for a COVID-19 vaccine since last week – that’s when the state started allowing all BIPOC residents 16 and older and members of their households to get a shot.

The state opened up expanded eligibility for BIPOC Vermonters because vaccination rates were lagging behind white residents. State data shows people of color are more likely to get infected by the coronavirus.

Human Service Secretary Mike Smith says uptick of vaccination appointments is encouraging.

“We are moving in the right direction,” Smith said. “But as I said on Tuesday, we need more BIPOC community members to sign up.”

Smith says people can make an appointment at the Health Department’s website or by calling 855-722-7878.

– Liam Elder-Connors

Beginning April 19, non-residents can sign up for COVID vax in N.H.

New Hampshire will remove its residency requirement for the coronavirus vaccination starting April 19.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu faced criticism from Democrats and college officials over the state’s initial decision to prohibit college students from other states, as well as banning other non-residents like second homeowners from being vaccinated in New Hampshire.

But that restriction was lifted Thursday because Sununu says the state anticipates having plenty of doses to go around.

All New Hampshire residents 16 and older have been eligible for the vaccine since April 2.

– Associated Press

2. Cross-border travel, outdoor business restrictions loosen today

Vermont’s plan to fully reopen from the coronavirus pandemic begins Friday.

Gov. Phil Scott’s strategy, dubbed the “Vermont Forward” plan, ties reopening to vaccine milestones across the state.

Starting today, outdoor businesses shift to universal guidance. That means farmers markets, outdoor recreation, campgrounds and retail operations simply have to follow masking and physical distancing requirements.

Also today, unvaccinated Vermonters returning from out-of-state travel won’t have to quarantine, and instead have to get a COVID test within three days of returning. Unvaccinated visitors to Vermont must follow similar testing rules.

All dates associated with the reopening plan could change based on Vermont’s vaccination rates.

Step 2 of the governor’s plan rolls out in May, and expands indoor and outdoor gatherings and opens up other sectors. But more than half of Vermonters will have to get at least one vaccine dose before those changes take place.

– Matthew Smith

More from VPR: Gov. Announces Reopening Plan That Lifts All Pandemic Restrictions By July 4

3. Vt. Legislature takes up bills to reduce domestic and sexual violence

The House Judiciary committee is backing efforts to expand victim access to sexual assault exams.

Committee Chairwoman Maxine Grad says under current law, victims must go to a hospital for an exam.

Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition Thursday, Grad said this policy is too restrictive, and that all primary care health centers should be authorized to do this work.

“And we know that many victims live in rural areas and can’t always access ths critical exam,” Grad said. “This is an appropriation that would ensure that all Vermonters can be safe and free of violence, regardless of where they live.”

The proposal provides these services by amending the current “Bill of Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors.”

Grad is also urging the Vermont Senate to pass legislation that would give a judge the power, in certain emergency situations, to order someone to temporarily relinquish their firearms if there is an “immediate danger” of further abuse.

She says the bill provides a statewide policy on this critical issue.

“This bill is so important, because it will provide consistency, statewide consistency, so that all survivors will have access to justice, so we can prevent and end violence for all Vermonters,” Grad said.

Opponents of the bill say it doesn’t provide defendants with sufficient due-process rights. The legislation, which passed the House by a 2-1 margin, is currently being reviewed by the Senate Judiciary committee.

Hear the full conversation.

– Bob Kinzel

4. Vermont Ski Areas Association: Skier visits down 20% this year

The Vermont Ski Areas Association is reporting skier visits were down by 20% through February of this year, compared with the year prior.

Out-of-state visitors account for more than 75% of the traffic at Vermont ski areas. This year, they had to quarantine before hitting the slopes.

Ski Association President Molly Mahar says fewer visitors this season will have ripple effects across rural economies:

“I think this means that ski areas will be more conservative when making their business decisions, probably over the next couple of years,” Mahar said. “You know, it may affect offerings and staffing levels. We did see employment levels down approximately 35% across the industry this year, so that’s affecting several thousand jobs.”

The good news? As this year’s season comes to a close, not a single Vermont resort has shut down due to the pandemic.

– Abagael Giles

More from VPR: Vt. Distributed $330 Million In Business Recovery Grants. Here’s How It Worked For The Ski Industry

5. Vt. House advances bill decriminalizing buprenorphine

The Vermont House of Representatives has advanced a bill that would decriminalize possession of a drug that’s used to treat opioid use disorder.

Debate over the buprenorphine legislation turned emotional on Thursday when lawmakers, such as Burlington Representative Brian Cina, recalled the loss of friends and family to opioid addiction.

“And so today I’m going to vote yes in honor of all of my clients, friends and neighbors who have passed away from overdoses, and for all of the people who need one more day on their road to recovery,” Cina said.

Supporters of the bill say black-market buprenorphine can serve as a gateway to treatment for people with opioid use disorder.

Critics say buprenorphine is a dangerous opioid that should only be legal when prescribed by a medical professional.

– Peter Hirschfeld

6. Several Vermonters receive Guggenheim Fellowship

Several Vermonters are among the recipients of the prestigious Guggenheim fellowship.

Bradford writer and Dartmouth creative writing professor Alexander Chee was awarded a fellowship for nonfiction.

Also from Dartmouth, English professor Joshua Bennett was awarded a fellowship for American literature. Middle Eastern studies professor Tarek El-Ariss was awarded a fellowship for his literary criticism.

Several Bennington College faculty were also among the winners, including Mark Wunderlich, the director of Bennington Writing Seminars, who was awarded a poetry fellowship. Faculty member Craig Morgan Teicher also was awarded a poetry fellowship for his three volumes of verse.

Several other former faculty and alumni also received fellowships in fiction, film and video, nonfiction and fine arts.

Given since 1925, the Guggenheim fellowships award grants for six to 12 months with no strings attached, with the intention of allowing fellows time to do their work with as much creative freedom as possible.

Montreal filmmaker Alison McAlpine was also granted a fellowship in film and video.

– Matthew Smith

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vprnet.

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Friday Olympic Sport Roundup – House of Sparky


Arizona State gymnastics wrapped up its regular season on Friday. The trip to Idaho came up just short after Boise State beat the Sun Devils 196.750-196.700. Nevertheless, there were plenty of positives from the final meet before the Pac-12 Championships.

Hannah Scharf won her seventh all-around title at 39.475 that included a 9.900 career-high mark on bars.

Anaya Smith took home another vault title and Emily White had the best result on beam. Scharf and teammate Cairo Leonard-Baker as well as the Broncos’ Adriana Popp and Tatum Bruden all scored a 9.925 on floor.

In the end, Boise State’s 49.475 floor total proved to be the difference in the final rotation after Arizona State had led most of the time.

A cap tip goes to Boise State because the Sun Devils forced the Broncos to have that type of routines after Arizona State scored at least a 49 in every event.

The Sun Devils travel to Utah for the Pac-12 Championships on March 20.


Arizona State took down Cal and swept the Golden Bears in three sets at Desert Financial Arena on Friday. Once again, Sun Devil freshman outside hitter Marta Levinska was a force.

She had a match-high 15 kills, while sophomore Iman Isanovic was deadly when she went back to serve. Isanovic had five aces to go along with eight kills in the match. Libero Annika Larson had 15 digs as well. ASU has now won two in a row following a long losing streak.

“That’s super exciting. We had a tough going early on. We opened with Washington, Washington State and Utah. Those are the best teams in the conference and yes, we had them at home, but still those are the best teams in the conference,” said head coach Sanja Tomasevic. “We’re just learning how to play with Rob (Rabelo) and Regan (Tinkle) so that was tough. We talk about not letting whatever happened early on define how we move forward. We talk about short-term memory loss and just make sure we forget about the last game whether it’s good or bad, last point whether it’s good or bad, and be in the now. Volleyball is a game of now and we have to play it as such. It felt really good though because how they walk, they talk differently and you want to see that in your young team because they need that confidence.”

The Devils will go for the sweep of Cal on Sunday at noon.


ASU couldn’t pull off the upset of No. 21 Stanford on Friday, as the Cardinal took down the Sun Devils 15-9 in Palo Alto.

Stanford outscored ASU 6-4 in the first half and then pulled away by a 9-5 margin in the second. For the Devils, senior attacker Kerri Clayton had a goal and two assists while Carley Adams led ASU offensively with five goals.

Goalkeeper Berkeley Bonneau was also stellar, making 13 saves to help her team and give them an opportunity to pull off the upset.

Four straight goals coming out of the half would prove to be the difference for the Cardinal though, and they would close things out down the stretch. ASU trimmed into the lead, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Up next, ASU will make the trip up to Berkeley on Sunday for a matchup with Cal at noon.

Women’s Tennis

ASU moved to 2-0 in conference play by defeating Washington State earlier this afternoon. The Sun Devils came out winning the doubles point and winning three of the opening four singles matches. They eventually finished with a 6-1 victory over the Cougs in Pullman.

Sammi Hampton, Domenika Turkovic, and Lauryn John-Baptiste all won their singles matches and were strong contributors in the victory. Here’s a look the full results from the courts:


  1. #50 Ilze Hattingh/Lauryn John-Baptiste (ASU) def. Michaela Bayerlova/Hikaru Sato (WSU) 6-4
  2. Melisa Antes/Yang Lee (WSU) def. Sammi Hampton/Marianna Argyrokastriti (ASU) 6-3
  3. Domenika Turkovic/Guilia Morlet (ASU) def. Pang Jittakoat/Fifa Kumhom (WSU) 7-6 (7-4)


  1. #37 Ilze Hattingh (ASU) def. #55 Michaela Bayerlova (WSU) 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-3)
  2. #115 Sammi Hampton (ASU) def. Hikaru Sato (WSU) 6-3, 6-4
  3. Lauryn John-Baptiste (ASU) def. Fifa Kumhom (WSU) 6-0, 7-6 (7-1)
  4. Guilia Morlet (ASU) def. Pang Jittakoat (WSU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
  5. Savanna Ly-Nguyen (WSU) def. Marianna Argyrokastriti (ASU) 6-4, 6-2
  6. Domenika Turkovic (ASU) def. Melisa Ates (WSU) 6-2, 7-5

Track And Field

Five Sun Devils competed in the NCAA Indoor National Championship on Friday, and the event was highlighted by thrower Turner Washington, who once again etched his name into the record books at ASU.

Washington took home the shot put title with a heave of 21.36m/70-1 on his fifth attempt. After transferring from the school down south, Washington has turned into a star in Tempe, setting multiple records thus far this season.

“It’s kind of seeing all of my hard work pay off and all of the sacrifices with transferring,” Washington said in his postgame Zoom. “If you would have told me four years ago that I’d be a national champion, I’d tell you you’re crazy.”

Along with Washington, Jorinde van Klinken finished third in the women’s shot put for the maroon and gold by going 17.56m/57-7.5. Thus, ASU will be coming flying home from Arkansas with some hardware.

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Science News Roundup: There’s light-speed travel in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek.’ Is it possible?

Following is a summary of current science news briefs.

There’s light-speed travel in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek.’ Is it possible?

Spaceships zipping at the speed of light or faster are a staple of science fiction. Think of the Millennium Falcon in the “Star Wars” movies and the starship Enterprise in “Star Trek.” Such travel sounds like fanciful speculation. But is it? A new research paper authored by an American physicist offers a potential blueprint for superluminal travel – faster than the speed of light – using conventional physics rather than a construct based upon hypothetical particles and states of matter with exotic physical properties.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Day Trips & Beyond: March Events Roundup: Travel news a year into the pandemic – Travel

This month marks the anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic. Traveling is tough, but we’ve learned new protocols and become cautiously optimistic about venturing out again.

It’s hard work in the Texas heat for Travis Mayes preparing barbecue for the legions of hungry fans who line up at the window in Garland. The family-run business was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and then the St. Valentine’s weekend freeze broke the water pipes and the firewood was stolen. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

A cold smoker in Garland. For more than 40 years Meshack’s BBQ Shack in the suburbs west of Dallas has been serving smoked meats out of a cinder-block building. It’s a small, family-run business with Travis Mayes, who took over the restaurant from his father-in-law, as pitmaster and chief bottle washer. The pandemic made times as lean as the brisket, and then came six days of deep freeze in February. When Travis was able to maneuver icy roads to check on the shop, he found busted water pipes flooding the tiny kitchen. Adding to the misery, all his firewood had been pilfered to heat people’s homes. In early March the appeal went out to barbecue lovers for help through a GoFundMe account to raise funds to get the smoker fired up again. The Mayes family isn’t asking for a lot, so every little bit helps. “Help Meshack’s BBQ get back to Q’in.”

Once Meshack’s BBQ Shack reopens at 240 E. Avenue B, a few blocks east of downtown Garland, the window opens Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:30am until sold out. There’s no dining room, so everything is sold to-go.

A Spanish proverb says, “Every head is a world unto itself.” Based in Boise, Idaho, artist Ashley Dreyfus lets her personal world out through her art. Ashley’s creation “There Is No Place Like Home” is the first-place winner in the annual contest to decorate Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer products for the upcoming year. The piece, along with 24 other finalists, will be on view at a new gallery in San Antonio. (Courtesy PBR Studios)

Beer can art and more comes to San Antonio. Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer announced that they will open Pabst Blue Ribbon Studios at 1112 S. St. Mary’s St. in San Antonio on March 13. The inaugural exhibit at the new gallery will feature the 2021 designs submitted by emerging arts for PBR cans. PBR Studios will display the 25 finalists for 90 days. After that the gallery space will rotate among different commissioned artists every 30 days. This is the third art gallery for the beer manufacturer that moved its headquarters to San Antonio last year; the others are in New York City and Los Angeles. The San Antonio gallery will be free to the public and open on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6pm and on the first Friday of the month from 4 to 10pm.
March 13, Pabst Blue Ribbon Studios Grand Opening, San Antonio,

Travel Notes:

Looking for wildflowers. It’s a little early to tell how last month’s deep freeze will affect the bluebonnet crop this spring. The lakeside town of Marble Falls is betting on a good showing of color and has already published a map of places to scope out with the kids and camera.

March is Texas History Month. In celebration of Texas Independence, the Washington-on-the-Brazos Foundation will premiere Independence! A Lone Star Rises, a documentary film about the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. The film by Gary Foreman of Native Son Productions is free to view. The premiere will be on March 31 beginning at 10am with encore presentations at 1pm and 7pm. Viewers can connect to the film at Washington-on-the-Brazos Historical Foundation, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, the Texas Historical Commission Facebook pages, and the Texas Historical Commission YouTube channel.

Elon Musk takes a village. On March 2, Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. released a notice that Elon Musk and SpaceX want to swallow Boca Chica Village into their City of Starbase, Texas. Since 2014, SpaceX had already bought out most of the property owners for its spaceship launch site. According to Wikipedia, the town originated as Kennedy Shores in 1967 as a settlement for Polish migrants hoping to escape the harsh winters of Chicago. The dream disappeared later that year when Hurricane Beulah wiped out the community’s water supply system. Still a few residents have hung on. Several publications have reported that Musk intends to turn the coastal location into a resort and “21st century Spaceport.” Boca Chica, or what is left of it, is a few miles east of Brownsville where TX-4 ends into a secluded beach near the mouth of the Rio Grande.

Storm farm aid. Several Central Texas organizations have banded together to bring the Texas Strong Relief Concert to Dripping Springs. Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis will headline a day of music at Dreamland on March 13 from 3 to 10pm. The outdoor concert and food drive will benefit small and medium-sized farms across Texas that were impacted by the snowstorm that blanketed the state in February.

Virtual Rock and Roll. The Rock Stacking Championship and Llano Earth Art Fest will go online this year. The popular art festival that was held in the riverbed under the bridge in Llano is trying something new this year. Artists will showcase their rock-stacking skills online on March 26 and 27. Entry to competition is free as online content for spectators.

Other March Events:

Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic some events might have changed after they were included in this listing. It is always advisable to confirm the status of the event before expending great effort to attend.

Tour at New Leaf Farm

March 5, Elgin,

Borntrager’s Public Auction

March 6, Beeville,

Birdwatching at the Battleground

March 6, San Jacinto Monument SHS, La Porte,

Bee to Bottle Walking Tour

March 6, Walker Honey Farm, Rogers,

Spring Transplant Sale

March 6, 13, 20, 27, April 3, 10, 17, 24, Garfield,

Pabst Blue Ribbon Studios Grand Opening

March 13, San Antonio,

Texas Ranger Day

March 27, Burton,

Black History River Cruise

March 14, 27, San Antonio,

Spring Break at the Pioneer Museum

March 15-20, Fredericksburg,

Outlaws and Legends

March 19-20, Abilene,

Central Texas Ceramic Expo and Handcrafted Items

March 19-20, West,


March 19-28, Waxahachie,

Dogwood Trails Celebration

March 19-April 4, Palestine,

Bluebonnet Air Show

March 20, Burnet,

Dogwood Festival

March 20, Palestine,

Houston Music and Arts Festival

March 20-21, Conroe,

Wine and Wildflower Journey

March 20-April 16, Texas Hill Country,

Return of the Mud Dauber Concert

March 20, Luckenbach,


March 26-27, Luckenbach,

Rock Stacking Championship and Llano Earth Art Festival

March 27-28, Llano,

Houston Music and Arts Festival

March 27-28, Pearland,

In search of more virtual or IRL travel ideas? Visit our Out of Town listings.

Gerald McLeod has been traveling around Texas and beyond for his “Day Trips” column for more than 25 years. Keep up to date with his journeys on his archive page and follow him on Facebook.

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