Things That Matter

This Dominican Republic Hotel Just Claimed Its 6th Victim And Experts Think The Mini Bar Is To Blame

A sixth American tourist was reported Monday to have died from a mysterious illness at a Dominican Republic resort — the latest in a string of disturbingly similar fatalities.

Many of the deaths — and several other severe illnesses — involve healthy, middle-aged adults who had taken a drink from their hotel room minibar before suddenly becoming gravely sick.

That connection seems like more than a coincidence to the victims’ loved ones — and has led to new calls for action and even for the FBI to step in and investigate.

The latest death to be revealed was that of Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, who officials said died on April 14 during a stay at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Credit: Robert Bell Wallace / Facebook

Wallace’s cause of death has yet to be determined. But in an interview, his niece said her uncle became unwell shortly after drinking a glass of scotch from the minibar in his room before dying in a hospital three days later.

“We have so many questions,” she said. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

Compounding the mystery is the fact that another American tourist, David Harrison, 45, of Maryland, had died at the same Hard Rock in July 2018 under similarly strange circumstances.

And just one month after Wallace died, three others mysteriously died in their rooms at another Dominican resort in a five-day period this May.

Credit: WYZN / Facebook

We first reported on the deaths of Miranda Schaup-Werner, Edward Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, who all died within days of each other at the exact same resort.

According to statements from Miranda’s husband, who made it back to the US safely, his wife also started feeling sick after drinking something from the minibar.

The deaths made headlines and first put the spotlight on what now appears to be a yearlong pattern.

Credit: @TheSun / Twitter

The reports of the growing death toll were particularly disturbing to Brooklyn’s Awilda Montes, 43, who said she began vomiting blood after drinking soda from her minibar at the Grand Bahia Principe last October — but managed to survive.

“This could have been me in the headlines,” Montes told The Post. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have left the island straight away.”

Montes suspects someone replaced the soda with chlorine and says she has been left with no taste buds, permanent respiratory problems, and ongoing anxiety.

Aside from the sixth deaths, a long list of people are coming forward with shocking stories of severe unexplainable illness.

Credit: @BuzzFeedNews / Twitter

Nearly 70 tourists have reported getting violently ill while vacationing in the Dominican Republic since March, according to a commonly used website that tracks food-borne illness outbreaks.

That’s up from just 10 reported illnesses in the country for all of 2018, according to iwaspoisoned.com. In June alone, 52 tourists reported symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

More than 45 of them identified themselves as guests at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana.

Some are starting to believe the incidents are all connected as some plan from a disgruntled employee or even a serial killer.

Credit: hardrockhotels_caribe / Instagram

A team of experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization has since descended on the hotels and is conducting tests at the Bahia Principe hotels where the trio died.

For its part, the Dominican government is urging calm and insisting the island is safe for visitors.

At a press conference, Dominican Republic Tourism Minister Francisco Garcia insisted the island was safe as more tourists reportedly are canceling their vacation plans. Garcia said the country had received more than 30 million visitors in the last five years without any widespread concerns about health issues at its resorts.

But all of this news comes as baseball star David Ortiz was shot in the back while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

While on vacation in the Dominican Republic, Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz was shot in the back.

One suspect is in custody, and investigators are looking for at least one other man in connection with Sunday night’s shooting, police said.

The reason for the shooting wasn’t immediately clear. Ortiz does not know the man being held or why he was shot, and he’s confident it was not a robbery attempt.

All of this has tourists rethinking their travel to the island.

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

Things That Matter

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

Alvanverna / Instagram

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.

Dominican Fashion Designer Jenny Polanco Dies From COVID-19 Complications

Fierce

Dominican Fashion Designer Jenny Polanco Dies From COVID-19 Complications

jennypolanco / Instagram

Dominicans and the fashion world are mourning the death of Dominican fashion designer Jenny Polanco. The world-renowned designer had just traveled to Spain when she fell ill. People are showing their love and appreciation of Polanco on social media in a time when physical activities have been limited.

Dominican fashion designer Jenny Polanco has died from COVID-19.

The Dominican Republic’s public health minister Rafael Sánchez announced Polanco’s death. Polanco is the first Latino celebrity who has died from the virus. Polanco is among the first six people to die from the novel coronavirus on the Caribbean island.

Miami Fashion Week dedicated a tribute post to the Caribbean fashion designer.

The designer showed a collection at the last Miami Fashion Week and her sudden loss has saddened those associated with the event. Polanco was able to celebrate her Caribbean roots with the classic avant-garde style. Her take on fashion was breathtaking in its simplicity coupled with their energetic shapes.

Fashion fans are offering loving tributes to Polanco.

“May Dominican designer jenny Polanco rest in peace,” the Twitter user wrote. “The coronavirus took a creative, colorful, beach mind.”

Polanco, like many people who have taken ill, had recently traveled.

A lot of people who have tested positive in the first wave of infections in different countries had recently traveled to a country where the virus was spreading. Since the start of the outbreak, some countries have closed their borders and set travel restrictions as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

If you are feeling sick, call your doctor and tell them your symptoms. You can also visit the CDC for more information about COVID-19 and what you can do to prevent catching the virus and what to do if you get sick.

READ: Someone Turned Cardi B’s Coronavirus Rant Into A Remix Now It’s On The Billboard Charts