Things That Matter

Coronavirus Has Flipped Our World Upside Down And Here’s How It Could Change The Future Of Travel Forever

Most of us have been social distancing for weeks if not months now, and between all the extrema anxiety and being away from friends and family, plus winter is over – a getaway sounds like exactly what so many of us need right about now. I mean, it wasn’t long ago that we were hopping on planes at every change we got – but in a shockingly short amount of time, the world completely changed.

In 2019, approximately 83.4 million US citizens traveled overseas, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. Today, with a global level 4 health advisory in effect, trips to Mexico City are being replaced by virtual tours of the famous Casa Frida museum, and travelers who dream of trekking Machu Picchu are tuning in to live streams from Peru.

The abrupt change from globe-trotting to quarantine has got travelers everywhere wondering what travel will look like in a post-coronavirus pandemic world. But should you really book a summer vacation now? Here’s what the experts are saying:

When Will We Be Able To Travel Again?

Credit: Alex Walden / Flickr

Obviously, the entire world is in a very fluid situation right now, with major changes happening every day – even every hour – so it’s hard to give an exact date. But right now, many countries are still experiencing severe outbreaks of the Coronavirus and have extended mandatory quarantines and stay-at-home orders.

It’s also important to note that you should take your departing location and your destination into consideration. For example, if you live in an area where things are improving but want to travel to an area where they’re not, you should consider pushing your travel dates.

Travel experts are hoping for some late-summer travel but this would be largely domestic, essential travel – like college students returning to campuses and people who decided to quarantine elsewhere returning home. However, it’s not clear this will even be allowed. The US Department of State’s Global Health Advisory is still at its highest level, as is the CDC’S Travel Advisory, urging against all international travel. Between the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus hitting in the fall and vaccines not being introduced until next year, health officials are in agreement that people should avoid flying for the time being.

But looking to the future, what could flying actually look like? Temperature checks could be the new norm.

Credit: Lynn Sladky / Flickr

In the US, there is debate as to whether the Transportation Security Administration should start making temperature checks on passengers and employees mandatory. Airlines for America, a trade group that represents American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest, spoke out in favor of these checks.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says an estimated 25% to 50% of people who have contracted the virus are asymptomatic. Those who don’t show symptoms can still pass the illness to others, so the effectiveness of temperature checks remains somewhat unclear.

Blood tests and nasal swaps could also be required.

Credit: Unsplash

Some airlines and airports have already started administering Covid-19 blood tests to passengers. The tests give results within 10 minutes, however, they’re not yet available for widespread use. Places like Hong Kong and Tokyo have started requiring testing for arriving passengers from high-risk countries like Italy and the United States.

Flying could become much more expensive.

While some experts predict lower fares as airlines try to entice flyers, a press release by the International Air Transport Association anticipates fares rising by up to 54% in some places because of social-distancing measures, with fewer seats available to sell.

Staycations could become much more common.

Credit: @disneyland / Twitter

We’ve all been forced to stop and look around at what’s right in front of us – and, luckily for us all, culture, adventure, nature, and so much more are often not too far. Where we might have been compelled to travel to other shores in search of sunshine or beautiful beaches, the Coronavirus has forced us to reevaluate our travel priorities and explore our own neighborhoods.

Solo or small group travel might be more appealing than big tours or cruise ship travel.

Credit: katemahir / Instagram

Given the multiple COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships in the early days of the crisis, it’s not hard to imagine why some people might be put off them altogether. Traveler uncertainty coupled with unprecedented government warnings advising against cruise ship travel may make it harder for the industry to bounce back, according to the Economist.

This may be the perfect time to travel with family or a close group of friends in order to limit social interaction.

Traveling with purpose will be even more important.

Credit: Hotel Neptuno

We’ll be all the more selective with who we’re giving our money to. And after communities and economies have been devastes by the pandemic, this makes more sense than ever before.

Conservation has been in jeopardy without revenue from tourists. We’ll want to support hotels which also provide revenue for much-needed cultural and environmental preservation. Ethical travel options could grow in popularity, especially if travelers have the opportunity to support a community that was hard hit by a loss of tourism.

You may have to carry new ID proving your healthy.

Credit: alvanverna / Instagram

Thailand is already requiring passengers flying in from certain countries to present health certificates that deem them COVID-19-free before they can board flights to the country, and the IATA has suggested something similar, proposing an “immunity passport.” SimpliFlying compares these to the Yellow Fever cards passengers must show ahead of traveling to certain regions.

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These Are The Top YouTube Workouts To Try At Home To Help Keep Those Resolutions

Entertainment

These Are The Top YouTube Workouts To Try At Home To Help Keep Those Resolutions

Alexandra Durón / Getty Images

With the official start of 2021 – which will hopefully be so much better than 2020 – the desire to be physically fit and achieve that “beach body” (whatever that is) is at a seasonal high. Whether due to a new year’s resolution to get in shape, stay active, lose weight, or simply be more healthy, people are looking for ways to feel and look good despite being under stay-at-home orders.

Across the country, gyms are still closed thanks to the pandemic and many of us are looking for new ways to follow those fitness goals. Enter YouTube: it’s full of incredible, free workouts that are sure to get you motivated. Here are some of our favorites:

The Fitness Marshall

If you’re like me and hate working out, then The Fitness Marshall may be your answer. Fitness guru Caleb Marshall combines hit pop songs — like “Heat” by Kelly Clarkson and “Pony” by Ginuwine — with dance moves that help you break a sweat and have fun doing it. 

Fitness Blender

Run by husband-and-wife team Daniel and Kelli, Fitness Blender is a simple yet great channel. All of their videos are filmed with a white background so you can actually focus on what they’re doing. They have more than 600 full-length workout videos, and more than 150 of those are HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to get your body moving and blood pumping. All workouts range from 5- to 45-minutes. While some videos require some basic equipment, many can be done with your body weight alone.

Popsugar Fitness

Filmed in a fitness studio with at least three people, the channels feels a bit like an old-school ’80s workout video, without the signature fashion and hair of course…but it does bring that fun group attitude right to you. The channel has different categories: beginners, HIIT, dance cardio, plus workouts targeted at different body parts. You can also choose a class based on length (10 minutes, etc.) Plus, they have a section full of no equipment cardio workouts so you can get your heart rate up without leaving the house

The Body Coach

The Body Coach (aka Joe Wicks) believes that everyone should be able to work out, no matter their fitness level or budget. The channel has more than 250 videos, including challenges, time-based workouts, and workouts for specific body types. There’s a new HIIT workout every week. One of the coolest parts of the channel is that it also has workout for kids, including a daily P.E. class that might be very helpful for any parents who have basically started homeschooling their kids.

Blogilates

No list of YouTube fitness channels is complete without Blogilates. This widely popular channel has close to 4.5 million subscribers and focuses on POP Pilates, PIIT28 and Bootcamp Sculpting. If you have no clue what those are, don’t worry. You don’t need to understand it to enjoy these workouts.  

Certified fitness instructor Cassey Ho’s friendly demeanor makes laying on a mat and working your core, legs, arms and butt almost enjoyable.

Flightmaster Yoga

This channel is not about being a perfect yogi. The motto of the channel is “It’s not about the pose.” All Lesley Fightmaster wants from you is to show up and do your best. She has a number of full-length yoga practices for anyone at any level. You can start with the for beginner videos and then work your way up to 30-minute practices45-minute hatha practices, and full 1-hour practices. The tone is supportive, comforting, and non-judgemental. Show up and try your best to see what happens.

Roberta’s Gym

Think of Roberta’s Gym as the Alexa of exercising. This animated trainer doesn’t really have a personality, but her on-screen timers and rep counters help you keep track of what you’re doing better than any humanoid.

BullyJuice

Despite the name, this instructor isn’t a bully at all. He offers up super motivational videos that anyone can do from the comfort of their home. And he keeps it simple: 20 minute full body workouts that require no equipment. Yes, some of the workouts will kick your ass but what do they say? No pain, no gain!

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Just After Congress Approves $600 Stimulus Checks, Trump Threatens To Veto The Bill

Things That Matter

Just After Congress Approves $600 Stimulus Checks, Trump Threatens To Veto The Bill

Pixabay

Updated: December 23, 2020

Just days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation that would send millions of Americans much-needed stimulus checks – even though they were only $600 – Donald Trump has thrown the entire plan into chaos.

Donald Trump threatens to veto historic spending bill.

Trump is holding a veto threat over recently passed, bipartisan legislation that was aimed at stimulating a suffering economy. Trump says that he wants lawmakers to boost the $600 direct payments to checks for $2,000 but his own party is basically united against increasing the size of checks.

Many point out that Trump is simply holding up the legislation, not for the stimulus checks, but because he objects to other parts of the law. Within the spending package, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle approved spending for arts and cultural programs as well as aide to developing countries across the world.

Original Story Published: December 18, 2020

So it looks like millions of Americans may end up getting that long overdue second stimulus check after all. So long as Congress doesn’t screw things up again.

As part of the latest round of negotiation between Democrats and Republicans, it looks a like a proposal for $600 direct payments is back on the table. However, $600 is literally half of the amount that was sent out to millions of Americans back in April and May.

A new stimulus package could include direct payments to millions of Americans.

Congressional leaders are considering a new deal to help stimulate the economy which has been battered by the Coronavirus pandemic. And although it appeared, as recently as last week, that a second stimulus check was off the table, that seems to have changed.

The new deal under consideration included new stimulus checks and enhanced federal unemployment benefits, according to reports by Politico. Even President Trump said in a TV interview over the weekend that he wants stimulus checks in the deal, saying he wants to “see checks—for more money than they’re talking about—going to people.”

Millions of workers aren’t getting any help from the largest emergency aid deal in US history.

The bill, known as the CARES Act, delivers direct payments to most taxpayers, vastly expands unemployment benefits, and makes testing for the virus free, among other provisions.

But although unauthorized immigrants are no more immune from the effects of the current crisis, the stimulus bill conspicuously leaves them out in the cold — potentially putting them at greater economic and health risk, and impeding public health efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.

There are an estimated 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the USA who are ineligible for emergency federal benefits or state unemployment insurance because they don’t have valid work authorization. 

That’s left an extra layer of anxiety for immigrants without legal status who have lost their jobs or seen work hours reduced amid the statewide shutdown of “nonessential” businesses. Many turned to local organizations for help to put food on the table and pay other expenses. 

Undocumented residents are already at greater risk of being affected by Covid-19 because of inadequate resources and access to health care.

The unauthorized worker population is particularly vulnerable to the virus due to inadequate access to health care. Noncitizens are significantly more likely to be uninsured compared to US citizens, which may dissuade them from seeking medical care if they contract the virus.

Compounding matters are the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies — including wide-scale immigration raids and a rule that can penalize green card applicants for using Medicaid — which have made noncitizens afraid to access care. These factors pose a problem for America’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 12,000 in the US as of April 7.

Where the government is failing, advocates and organizations are stepping up to help.

Some immigrant advocates lobby for the undocumented to be included by allowing payments to those who file taxes using individual tax identification numbers, which are often used by workers without legal immigration status. 

“They should include at least the individual taxpayers,” said Diana Mejia, founder of the Wind of the Spirit, an organization that helps immigrants in New Jersey’s Morris County.  “They are paying taxes,” she added in an interview with CNN.

Filers who use ITINs contribute about $11.74 billion in state and local taxes each year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington think tank.

Aside from millions of undocumented migrants, millions of others are also being left out of the stimulus:

Credit: Department of Treasury

College Students and 17-Year-Olds: If someone else claims you as a dependent on their taxes, you won’t get your own check. Parents will get an extra $500 payment per child, but that’s only for kids under 17.

Most 17-year-olds, some young adults and many of the country’s roughly 20 million college students are claimed by their parents as dependents. They won’t get checks, and their parents won’t get an extra $500.

Disabled People: People who get disability benefits from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs are eligible for the payments — but not disabled adults who are claimed as dependents by their parents or other relatives on their taxes

Seniors Who Live With Family: Senior citizens who are on Social Security or make less than the income cap are eligible. But the “dependent” rule applies to them, too. Some seniors who live with their adult children or other relatives are claimed by them as dependents on their taxes. Those seniors won’t get checks.

Immigrants are eligible for some free testing.

Credit: Pixabay

Here’s one thing the bill does offer to unauthorized immigrants: free coronavirus testing at government-funded community health centers through a $1 billion federal program. But some community health centers have already reported shortages of tests.

There is also a larger, state-level testing program funded through Medicaid, but that’s only available to Medicaid-eligible immigrants — green card holders who have lived in the US for at least five years, immigrants who come to the US on humanitarian grounds such as asylum, members of the military and their families, and, in certain states, children and pregnant women with lawful immigration status. Those groups, however, make up only a small proportion of immigrants living in the US. 

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that it won’t consider use of free testing services when evaluating whether immigrants will likely end up relying on public benefits under the “public charge” rule, which went into effect in February

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