As a Latino, summer is my favorite season of the year. After a cloudy winter and mild spring, summer rejuvenates my zest for life. And where better to enjoy the summer than at the beach? It’s as if my genes were designed specifically to spend my days there. But for everything I love about the beach, there are things I kind of hate, too. Don’t know what I mean? I’ll explain.
There’s no denying that being locked up in our homes – sometimes with extended family – with little to do has many of us itching for a vacation from all of this madness. It seems like everyday we’re hit with another dose of bad news or some other worrying detail about the 2020 election, Coronavirus, police brutality – of course we want to get away.
But right now is not the time to be heading to the airport for that flight to some distant (or even not so distant) destination.
Experts agree that flying and spending time in airports is one of the riskiest things you can do during the Coronavirus pandemic. Sure, many airlines and airports say they’re taking extraordinary measures to protect travelers but several news reports and viral videos have shown that isn’t always true.
Air travel is considered a high-risk activity when it comes to the Coronavirus pandemic – and here’s why.
Air travel means spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which puts you into close contact with other people. As travel slowly recovers, planes are becoming more crowded, which means you will likely sit close to other people, often for hours, which raises your risk.
But if you can’t wait until a vaccine arrives to travel by air, you should understand the risks and know that there are measures you can take to stay safe. Flying is risky for several reasons, but the main concern is being in close proximity to other people from all over the country or the world.
One of the best ways to protect yourself (besides wearing a mask) is social distancing. And when it comes to flying, the reality is that it’s almost impossible to truly socially distance on a plane. Even if the flight you are on is not completely booked, the chances that you will encounter someone — either a fellow passenger or flight attendants — within six feet of you is very high. You will likely also encounter people within six feet while getting through airport security and boarding a plane.
Once on a plane, most viruses and other germs don’t spread easily because of the way air circulates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Airlines also say they are focusing on sanitizing the hard surfaces that passengers commonly touch.
Airlines say they’re adjusting their policies to accommodate social distancing but that isn’t always the case.
Several major U.S airlines (including Alaska, Delta, and JetBlue) have said that they’re blocking middle seats or limiting capacity. Other airlines (such as American) were doing that but have since started booking flights to capacity to make up losses revenues. But even if every middle seat is empty you will likely be closer than the recommended distance of 6 feet to another passenger now that planes are getting fuller.
Once you’re onboard, many airlines have completely eliminated food and beverage service, since it can be a vector for spreading the virus.
And although all U.S. airlines now officially require ‘appropriate face coverings’ while onboard, not all are enforcing this rule equally. And what’s to keep an anti-masker from taking off their mask mid-flight? Is an airline really going to reroute an entire aircraft wit hundreds of passengers for an emergency landing to kick off a passenger who refuses to use a mask?
Enforcement on airlines is much different than their official policies.
Recent travel stories and viral videos have shown the stark difference between official airlines policies and actual flying conditions. For example, travelers have reported that flights on United are suppose to notify travelers if the flight will be full but they show up to the airport only to then discover that they’ll be elbow to elbow with fellow travelers. That’s not good to say the least.
Airlines have increased sanitation and cleaning protocols with deeper and more frequent cleanings. Major airlines affiliated with Airlines for America saidthey are meeting or exceeding CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitation. Many planes are utilizing High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters to ensure the air flow is filtered and circulated as much as possible. Still, you should remain vigilant about hand hygiene on board, and bring your own disinfectant wipes so you can wipe down your seat and tray when you board.
Most experts agree that plane travel – unless absolutely necessary – is a big no no right now.
In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Gerardo Chowell, an epidemiologist, said “No vacation this year at all. There’s no point, and being an expert and trying to advise the public, we are not taking any vacation. It’s a very simple summer for us this year. We’re grateful we have some green areas around our house here in Decatur, Georgia, and we go out for walks almost every day. But that’s it. We’re not going anywhere because the risk is very real, now more than ever.
Meanwhile, Susan Kline, a professor of medicine, told Buzzfeed News that she is “not very comfortable getting on a plane still. My biggest concern is once you’re on a plane with a large number people, usually it’s in tight quarters and you’re all sharing the air, so I do think that’s the highest-risk situation: indoor spaces with a relatively large number of people in a relatively small space, plus add in you’re often sitting very close to people and you can’t control who you sit next to and you have no idea if they have any symptoms.
Corey Hannon, a gay man in New York, has received severe backlash after a video he posted to his IG story. Hannon, who suspected he might have COVID-19, went to Fire Island for the holiday weekend drawing anger.
NYC resident Corey Hannon is facing severe backlash on social media after posting this video.
The video was taken while Hannon was partying on Fire Island over the 4th of July holiday weekend. The video shows an upset Hannon claiming to have had COVID and went to the island after quarantining for 8 days. Then he takes a turn and says he hopes everyone catches COVID.
Hannon also allegedly shared on Facebook that his body felt like it was still sick while on Fire Island.
COVID-19 is still a very serious health risk in the United States. The holiday weekend saw spikes of COVID infections across the country proving the seriousness of the virus. According to The New York Times, the U.S. recorded more than 56,000 new infections on July 3rd and more than 50,000 on July 4th. New daily infection numbers have been increasing aggressively since mid-June when states began rushing reopening plans.
The backlash to the videos and posts was swift, widespread, and brutal.
Twitter was filled with people denouncing the actions of Hannon in the midst of a pandemic. Some countries have begun to return to a form of normal after strict isolation measures. The U.S. has been criticized by the international community because of a lack of a national strategy. Instead, infection numbers have continued to climb in the U.S. forcing some states, counties, and cities to pause, suspend, and even reverse reopenings.
Hannon posted a video and people are not buying his “apology.”
In the video, Hannon spends more time apologizing for how people perceived his actions than apologizing for his actions. For a moment, Hannon decided to talk about cancel culture and how it is going too far. He laments about the messages he has received in light of the video going viral.
Some people have gone so far as to call Hannon’s actions racist because of how much more communities of color are being infected. Black, Latino, and immigrant communities are all facing disproportionate numbers of COVID-19 cases. A lack of access to healthcare and outreach around COVID-19 has led to these communities facing higher infection and death rates as the virus continues to spread in the U.S.
Hannon’s video forced people to take a closer look at Fire Island this weekend and it was just…well…
Giancarlo Kristian Albanese, a currency analyst, also shared his feelings about health measures designed to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. An image shared to Instagram shows a sea of men with no social distancing and no masks insight on Fire Island.
Some people on social media are just stunned by this kind of behavior.
The virus is still a very serious threat in the U.S. The European Union has banned tourists from the U.S. to visit because of our inability to control the viral outbreak in the U.S. Our numbers have skyrocketed in recent months with our death number recently cross over 130,000.
Scientists, health experts, and politicians are calling for Americans to act together and wear masks and practice social distancing. Studies and research from around the world have shown that one of the most effective tools in slowing the spread of COVID-19 is the face mask.