Things That Matter

After COVID-19 Shut Down Flights, A Man Sailed Across The Atlantic Ocean All So That He Could See His Dad

For one Argentian man, there really ain’t no mountain high enough.

After the coronavirus pandemic halted international travel, Juan Manuel Ballestero set sail on a three-month-long high seas journey to his see his 90-year-old father, proving not even a novel virus could keep him from his dad.

Ballestero set out to see his father after his home country of Argentina canceled all international passenger flights in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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Misión cumplida! La fe cruza oceanos

A post shared by Juan Manuel Ballestero (@skuanavega) on

According to The New York Times, Ballestero had been on the Portugal island of Porto Santo when Argentina canceled international passenger flights. Still determined to see his father, Ballestero decided to set out on an 85-day sailing voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. All on his own.

“I didn’t want to stay like a coward on an island where there were no cases,” Juan Manuel said in an interview with The New York Times. “I wanted to do everything possible to return home. The most important thing for me was to be with my family.”

Ballestero is a veteran sailor and fisherman who has been a lover of water since he was 3 years old.

Still his family expressed that they were nervous about his decision to go his journey alone.

“The uncertainty of not knowing where he was for 50-some days was very rough, but we had no doubt this was going to turn out well,” his father, Carlos Alberto Ballestero said in an interview with The New York Times.

He also documented the trip all while on Instagram.

Though Ballestero made the trip home safe and sound, he did run into a few issues along the way.

Ballestero said that on April 12 authorities in Cape Verde barred him from docking his sailboat so that he could replenish his food supply and refuel his boat. At the time, Ballestero was eating only canned tuna, fruit, and rice. Because of Cape Verde’s denial, he was forced to continue forward with less fuel and rely on winds. What’s more, towards the end of his trip, Ballestero hit choppy waters and was forced to add an additional 10 days to his trip while in Vitória, Brazil.

Despite the complications, Ballestero said he never considered giving up. “I wasn’t afraid, but I did have a lot of uncertainty,” he explained. “It was very strange to sail in the middle of a pandemic with humanity teetering around me… There was no going back.”

Ballestero arrived on June 17 in Mar del Plata.

“Entering my port where my father had his sailboat, where he taught me so many things and where I learned how to sail and where all this originated, gave me the taste of a mission accomplished,” he shared before revealing that he had to take a test for COVID-19 before he could see his family. Fortunately, after 72 hours of waiting for his results, he found out that he was COVID-19-free and able to enter Argentina.

Despite his long trip, Ballestero said that he’s eager to hit the waters again soon.

“What I lived is a dream. But I have a strong desire to keep on sailing.”

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Ecuadorian Sisters, 3 And 5, Dropped By Smugglers From 14 Ft High Mexico-US Border Wall

Things That Matter

Ecuadorian Sisters, 3 And 5, Dropped By Smugglers From 14 Ft High Mexico-US Border Wall

New York Post

A recent video shared by a border patrol agent highlighted a shocking moment of smugglers literally dropping two little girls over a 14-foot high fence in the New Mexico desert. Right in the dead of night.

In the disturbing video, the smugglers can be seen climbing the fence and then dropping the two 5-year-old and 3-year-old sisters to the ground.

El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez shared that the incident occurred “miles from the nearest residence.”

The two little girls (Yareli, 3, and Yasmina, 5) were rescued after agents spotted them during a virtual surveillance sweep. The two sisters are from Ecuador and were dumped by human smugglers at the border wall according to an official.

“[US Immigration officials] need to verify the identity of the parents and confirm they are the parents and make sure they are in good condition to receive the girls,” Magdalena Nunez, of the Consulate of Ecuador in Houston, explained to The New York Post on Thursday. “It’s a process … We’re working to make sure it’s an expedited process and the girls spend as minimal time as possible separated from their parents.”

“Hopefully it can happen soon, in a week or two, but  it can take up to six weeks. We are working to make sure sure it happens as quickly as possible,” she explained before noting that the two sisters are “doing very well.”

“We have been in contact with them and confirmed they are in good health,” Nunez shared. “Physically, they are perfect — emotionally, obviously, they went through a hard time, but I guarantee you right now they are in good health and they are conversing. They are very alert, very intelligent.”

In a statement about the incident, the Ecuadorian consulate confirmed that the two girls had been in touch with their parents, who live in New York City.

“The Ecuadorian Consulate in Houston had a dialogue with the minors and found that they are in good health and that they contacted their parents, who currently live in New York City,” explained the consulate.

In a statement from the girls’ parents sent to Telemundo, the girls’ parents had left their daughters behind at their home in Jaboncillo, Ecuador, to travel to the US. The parents of the two girls have been identified as Yolanda Macas Tene and Diego Vacacela Aguilar. According to the New York Post, “The girls’ grandparents have asked President Biden to reunite the children with their parents. Aguilar paid a human smuggler to take his kids to the border — though the grandparents didn’t know how much they paid.”

“[The parents] wanted to be with them, their mother suffered a lot, for that reason they decided to take them,” paternal grandfather Lauro Vacacela explained in an interview with Univision.

It is still uncertain as to whether or not the girls’ parents are in the country legally.

Photos of the girls showed them having snacks with Agent Gloria Chavez.

“When I visited with these little girls, they were so loving and so talkative, some of them were asking the names of all the agents that were there around them, and they even said they were a little hungry,” Chavez told Fox News. “So I helped them peel a banana and open a juice box and just talked to them. You know, children are just so resilient and I’m so grateful that they’re not severely injured or [have] broken limbs or anything like that.”

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As The U.S. Expands Vaccine Eligibility Here’s What You Need To Know

Things That Matter

As The U.S. Expands Vaccine Eligibility Here’s What You Need To Know

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Starting today, everyone 16 and older can get in line for the Coronavirus vaccine. This is a huge milestone that has been months in the making after a very ambitious plan by the Biden administration.

But with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine still on pause, many have been wondering what the vaccine program will look like – especially since nearly everyone is now eligible to receive a shot in the arm.

As of Monday, anyone 16 and over is technically eligible to receive the Coronavirus vaccine.

On Monday, every state in the U.S. expanded its vaccine eligibility to include all adults over the age of 16, meeting President Biden’s deadline which he established two weeks ago.

The country is now administering 3.2 million doses a day on average, and half of all adults have now received at least one dose. Additionally, 84.3 million people have now been fully vaccinated against the disease. These are truly encouraging figures in the fight against the pandemic but a lot of uncertainty remains.

Ok but can I get a shot?

Technically, yes, anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for the vaccine but your access to it really varies from state to state.

Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., were the last to open up eligibility on Monday, after other states expanded access to the general public over the past month.

If the country’s present vaccination rate continues, 70% of the total U.S. population could be vaccinated by June 17 and 90% by July 25, the New York Times has projected. That timeline will likely depend on what happens with Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, however, as distribution is now paused following reports of blood clots, despite being statistically extremely rare.

So, what’s going on with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

On Sunday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said that he believed the pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will likely be lifted on Friday. During interviews on talk shows, Fauci stated that he expected federal health officials to decide on the vaccine’s future by the end of the week and that he did not anticipate the vaccine being permanently banned.

One alternative to banning is to limit who is able to receive the one dose shot, perhaps limiting it to males over the age of 50. This is how Europe adjusted its strategy following similar blood clotting issues with the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which was created using similar methods.

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