Things That Matter

This Is What America Looked Like On Memorial Day Despite A Pandemic Killing 100,000 Americans (And Counting)

So the United States is still in the midst of a pandemic with at least 18 states still seeing an increase in daily cases of Coronavirus. In fact, just on Friday, the country as a whole saw a single-day increase of more than 24,000 new cases. In one day.

Yet it seems that many Americans aren’t paying attention to the news or they simply just don’t care – as crowds packed beaches, lakes, parks, and pools across the country.

To many party-goers, they say it’s their right to do what they want and to celebrate how they want. To millions of responsible Americans, it’s more about responsibility and caring for your community by adhering to the social distancing requirements until the pandemic is under control – which could still be months away.

Many Americans have flocked to parks, restaurants and beaches to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.

Credit: Alex Edelman/ Getty

Governments across the country had announced that Memorial Day weekend would serve as a sort of test on whether or not they’d be able to really start relaxing stay-at-home orders. It all depended on how the public reacted and if they adhered to social distancing measures.

However, one quick look at social media showing pool parties and crowded beaches from Florida to California, show that much of the country truly failed at protecting themselves and their communities.

Commissioner for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn, told Americans that “with the country starting to open up this holiday weekend, I again remind everyone that the coronavirus is not yet contained.” It’s important reminder that millions of Americans seem to have forgotten.

He added “It is up to every individual to protect themselves and their community. Social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks protect us all.”

From Florida to California, millions of people totally ignored the ongoing crisis so they could party instead.

Crowds packed beaches in Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia and Indiana. Many people ventured out without masks and others failed to keep their distance even as officials highlighted the continued importance of both in order to prevent another surge of infections. But it seems like many people just didn’t care.

One party-goer told WGHP, “We’re tired of being stuck in the house. I’m not afraid of this virus one bit. People have the right to choose where they go and what they do.”

And in Missiouri’s Lakes of the Ozarks, hundreds attended pool parties despite an ongoing rise in cases in the area. And those party-goers, now pose a new threat to the region.

Lyda Krewson, the mayor of St Louis, Missouri, said: “It’s irresponsible and dangerous to engage in such high risk behaviour just to have some fun over the extended holiday weekend. Now, these folks will be going home to St. Louis and counties across Missouri and the Midwest, raising concerns about the potential of more positive cases, hospitalisations, and tragically, deaths. Deeply disturbing.”

Meanwhile, in California, people packed the beaches in Orange County and few were using masks.

Credit: Ralph Williams / Getty

Health officials Had said that Memorial Day weekend would serve as a test of whether California can actually ease stay-at-home orders. So how did the state do?

Well, from San Diego to Venice, beaches were packed with varying degrees of social distancing. New POrt Beach was packed with beach-goers flouting rules about hanging out in groups of more than 10.

While in Venice, the boardwalk was heaving with crowds and not everyone was wearing a face mask. Despite the digital billboard saying “wear face covering,” only some people wore face masks as they enjoyed a stroll on the Venice Beach boardwalk on Saturday.

And a popular hiking spot outside LA had to be shut down by authorities because it became so overcrowded it was impossible to follow social distancing guidelines.

Just because you can go to the beach or bars doesn’t mean it’s time to let your guard down.

In fact, some states are seeing new spikes in coronavirus cases. Both North Carolina and Arkansas are seeing major spikes in new cases. In North Carolina, they reported the highest single-day increase just a day after they entered the second phase of reopening. And in Arkansas, the governor said his state is experiencing a “second peak.”

There have also been reports of increased cases emerging in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Nebraska and Illinois.

Yet so many seem to think they have a right not to wear a mask. However, even one of the White House’s leading Coronavirus experts, Dr. Birx, has reminded the country that using a mask is extremely important.

“Out of respect for each other, as Americans that care for each other, we need to be wearing masks in public when we cannot social distance, she said in an interview with ABC News.

Experts warn the U.S. is nowhere near out of the woods with coronavirus.

As of Memorial Day, more than 1.7 million Americans have been infected and more than 99,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“Look at the numbers. You’ll see that on Thursday, more than 20,000 Americans were infected,” said Dr. Seema Yasmin, a former disease detective at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview with CNN. On Friday, “that number went up, and there were more than 24,000 Americans newly diagnosed with Covid-19.”

Yes, you’re reading those numbers correctly. There were 24,000 new cases in just one day!

No Fireworks, No Character Greets: Walt Disney World Prepares For Weekend Reopening

Entertainment

No Fireworks, No Character Greets: Walt Disney World Prepares For Weekend Reopening

Todd Anderson / Disney Parks via Getty Images

Walt Disney World was one of the first major closures brought on by COVID-19. After months of being closed, Wat Disney World announced that they will be partially reopening this weekend. Some Floridians are begging for the company to reconsider.

Walt Disney World is planning to reopen Saturday, July 11.

For Central Florida, the reopening of Walt Disney World after Universal Studios and SeaWorld is a welcomed influx of money. However, the park’s reopening is concerning Floridians who say that the state is not ready for such a reopening because of the current spike of COVID-19 cases in the Sunshine State.

A petition is pleading with Governor Ron DeSantis to postpone Walt Disney World’s reopening.

Credit: MoveOn.Org

Florida is among the states experiencing major spikes in COVID-19 cases. Recently, Florida reported more than 11,000 cases in a single day. The MoveOn.Org petition is calling for Gov. DeSantis to prioritize the health of residents over the opening of Disney World.

“This virus is not gone, unfortunately it’s only become worse in this state. Having our theme parks remain closed until cases are steadily decreasing would keep our guests, our employees and their families safe,” reads the petition. “Re-opening the theme parks is only putting our guests, employees, and families at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. While theme parks are a great way to relax and enjoy free time, it is a non-essential business; it is not fair to the people who work there to risk their lives, especially if they are at risk or have family members who are at risk. People are more important than making a profit.”

The theme park had a reopening preview to show the new normal while at the park.

Disney cast members were given a chance to explore the park and the new safety regulations in place to protect guests from COVID-19. For two days, “guests” were able to enjoy the full park for the first time since March when the theme park had to close because of COVID-19.

One union has filed a grievance with Walt Disney World ahead of the reopening.

The Actors’ Equity Association, which represents 750 Walt Disney World performers filed a grievance of retaliation. The union claims that their members are being punished by Disney after demanding tests for performers because they are not able to social distance on June 25. On June 26, Disney rescinded notice recalling the performers for work.

“Seven unions signed agreements to have their employees return to work, the Actors’ Equity rejected our safety protocols and have not made themselves available to continue negotiations, which is unfortunate,” a Disney spokeswoman said in a statement, according to WTVBAM. “We are exercising our right to open without Equity performers.”

Some people were quick to use Disney’s own creations to highlight the kind of reopening they expect.

Oof. So far, there has been no mention so signaling from Walt Disney World that the reopening will be postponed. Twitter is filled with people both excited and appalled that the happiest place on earth is reopening. Some people hope that Disney magic will be worth the risk.

READ: Demi Lovato Says She Left Disney Channel Because Of Her Eating Disorder

The U.S. Passport Was Once The World’s Strongest, It’s Fallen To 25th Place Thanks To Failed Leadership Amid Coronavirus

Things That Matter

The U.S. Passport Was Once The World’s Strongest, It’s Fallen To 25th Place Thanks To Failed Leadership Amid Coronavirus

Bloomberg / Getty Images

Not that we should be traveling right now, as the country’s Coronavirus pandemic continues to spiral out of control – but it’s worth noting that our international options are fewer than they were just months ago.

Historically, the U.S. passport has been seen as the golden ticket to travel with ease across the international community as it was once regarded as one of the strongest passports in the world. But that’s changing.

You can blame the drop in standing of the U.S. passport on our elected leaders who have massively failed to gain an upper hand on this health crisis. As other countries have demonstrated an ability to control Coronavirus within their borders, the U.S. has failed miserably. And that failure – in addition to more than 3 million infections and 130,000 deaths – has resulted in Americans simply being turned away from international destinations.

The U.S. passport dropped in visa-free access from 7th to 25th place as a result of our Coronavirus failures.

In what is a double whammy for the United States, the country recently crossed the three-million mark in terms of the number of registered COVID-19 cases, and more than 132,000 people have died from the disease. Now, its handling of the pandemic has drastically diminished power of its passport. 

Before the pandemic, the U.S. was regularly listed in the Top 10 on the Henley Passport Index, an annual ranking of the number of countries a passport gets you into without a visa. The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association. The US usually comes in sixth or seventh and topped the list as recently as 2014. Before the coronavirus pandemic, a US passport would get you into 185 destinations around the world without the need for a visa at all or a visa on arrival.

According to the latest Henley Passport Index, U.S. passports now have access to only 158 countries, putting it on par with a Mexican passport, a significant decline from its previous top 10 ranking in 2014.

“We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind,” says Christian Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, according to Forbes.

The biggest drop came as a result of the European Union banning entry to U.S. citizens.

Many countries across the globe are beginning to open back up as they get their Coronavirus outbreaks under control, and they are limiting or banning travel with countries where the virus is running rampant — including the United States. 

In fact, as Europe has slowly started to reopen its borders to international tourists, it’s specifically left off the U.S. Europe’s decision is responsible for the largest drop in the power of the U.S. passport.

Recently, five Americans who flew to Sardinia on a private jet were turned away and governors in Mexico are advocating for tighter border measures to prevent Americans from going into the country and spreading the virus. 

The U.S. passport is now equal in strength to that of Mexico and Uruguay.

It’s no secret that citizenship is the main factor behind preserving global inequalities today and that simply holding a U.S. passport can grant you access to so many more destinations. But now, Americans are getting to swee just how your government’s actions – or failures – can result in you being treated differently on the global level.

Thanks to America’s failure at combating the virus, U.S. citizens now hold passports that have around the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Mexico (#25 on Henley Passport Index, with a score of 159) and Uruguay (#28, with a score of 153).

Coronavirus continues to rage out of control across the U.S., so it should go without saying that an international trip is not a good idea right now.

Countries are closing their doors to Americans, as the outbreak in the US — the worst in the world — nears 3 million infections with over 131,000 deaths.

The US last week surpassed 50,000 new daily coronavirus cases, and that trend has been maintained this week with multiple states and cities recording record-high new infections, hospitalizations, or deaths. 

Another factor playing into travel restrictions – beyond the surging of cases in the U.S., is that America’s health care system is decentralized, unpredictable and unequal.

Tourism is essential for the economies of many destinations—and the livelihoods of individuals and families—and plays a role in reducing poverty. But right now is not the time for Americans to be traveling.