Things That Matter

You’ll Want To Stay At Home After Finding Out What It’s Really Like To Fly During A Pandemic

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.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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.

Credit: Jeffrey Groeneweg / Getty Images

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.

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Imagine Having Machu Picchu All To Yourself – That’s What One Man Got After Being Stuck In Peru For Seven Months

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Imagine Having Machu Picchu All To Yourself – That’s What One Man Got After Being Stuck In Peru For Seven Months

Gustavo Basso / Getty Images

One of the most dreaded side effects of the global Coronavirus pandemic, is that it took with it our travel plans. Whether we were simply set to have weekends at the beach, visit our abuelos in Mexico, or go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the world, so many of us have seen our travel plans taken away.

Well, one traveler made it across the world to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing Machu Picchu but as soon as he arrived, so too did the pandemic. He became stuck in foreign country and couldn’t travel or see the sights he had hoped to visit.

As Peru has slowly reopened, this now world-famous traveler is being known as the first person to see Machu Picchu post-lockdown and he got to do so all by himself.

One lucky traveler got to experience the city of Machu Picchu all by himself.

Peru’s famous Machu Picchu ruins, closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, reopened on Monday for one lucky Japanese tourist after he spent months stranded in the country due to global travel restrictions.

In a video first reported by The Guardian, Jesse Takayama shared his immense gratitude for being allowed to visit the ancient Incan city – which had long been one of his dreams. Months ago he had arrived in a small town near the Incan city, where he has remained ever since because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Peru’s Minister of Culture, Alejandro Neyra, said at a press conference that “He [Takayama] had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter. The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.” Talk about a once in a lifetime experience.

Neyra went on to add that this really was a rare moment and that Takayama only received access after submitting a special request to the local tourism authority.

In an Instagram post about his special access, Takayama said that “Machu Picchu is so incredible! I thought I couldn’t go but many people asked the government. I’m the first one to visit Machu Picchu after lockdown!”

Takayama had been stuck in Peru since March when the country shut down its borders because of the pandemic.

Takayama arrived to Peru in March and promptly bought his pass to the ancient city but little did he know the world (and his plans) would come to a screeching halt. Peru was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic (and continues to struggle) and was forced to close its borders and institute a strict lockdown.

Peru was forced to implement drastic COVID-19 restrictions on travel including an end to all incoming international flights earlier this year, which only relaxed this month after the nation’s rate of new COVID-19 cases began declining in August.

The last statement posted on the Machu Picchu website, dated from July, says that “the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Trade and Tourism are coordinating the prompt reopening of Machu Picchu”.

Peru’s Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.

The country’s Minister of Culture, Neyra, stressed that “the reopening of Machu Picchu is important for Peruvians, as a symbol of national pride and also as a budget issue, because it is one of the places that generates the most income for the culture sector.”

The BBC reports that the Inca stronghold, a Unesco world heritage site since 1983, is expected to reopen at reduced capacity next month. 

More than 1.5 million people make the pilgrimage to the Inca city annually. In 2017, Unesco threatened to place the famous ruins on its list of endangered heritage sites because of fears about overcrowding; Peruvian authorities subsequently brought in measures to control the flow of tourists and visitor numbers were capped at around 2,240 per day.

Peru is still experiencing one of the region’s worst outbreaks of Coronavirus.

After beginning a phased reopening, Peru has started to see its contagion rate increase in recent days. The country still faces one of the worst outbreaks in South America, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic,” Neyra added. “It will be done with all the necessary care.”

Peru has recorded just over 849,000 total cases of COVID-19, and 33,305 deaths since the pandemic began.

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The Number Of Latinos In The U.S Killed By Covid-19 Surpasses 44,500 With No Signs Of Slowing Down

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The Number Of Latinos In The U.S Killed By Covid-19 Surpasses 44,500 With No Signs Of Slowing Down

Wilfredo Lee / Getty Images

For months we have heard stories from our neighbors and our friends of people losing loved ones to Covid-19. It seems that with each passing day the degrees of separation from ourselves and the virus gets smaller and smaller.

Although this is true for all demographics, it’s particularly true for the Latino community. New data shows that although Latinos make up about 19% of the national population, we account for nearly a third of all deaths. These numbers are staggering and experts are warning that entire communities are being decimated by the pandemic.

More than 44,500 Latinos have died of Covid-19 in the United States.

It’s no secret that the Coronavirus has ravaged our community but now we have concrete numbers that show just how bad the pandemic has been among Latinos. According to new data from the COVID Tracking Project, over 44,500 of the nearly 211,000 people in the U.S. killed by the Coronavirus to date are Latino.

While Latinos are under 19 percent of the U.S. population, we make up almost one-third of Coronavirus deaths nationwide, according to CDC data analyzed by Salud America, a health research institute in San Antonio. Among some age groups, like those 35 to 44, the distribution of Latino Covid deaths is almost 50 percent; among Latinos ages 45-54, it’s almost 44 percent.

Experts say several factors account for higher COVID-19 death and infection rates among Latinos versus whites, including poverty, health care disparities, the prevalence of serious underlying medical conditions, and greater exposure to the virus at work because of the kinds of working-class, essential jobs many Latinos have.

Many Latinos who have been infected or died of the Coronavirus are front-line or essential workers.

Credit: Wilfredo Lee / Getty Images

So many of our family members and neighbors work jobs that are now considered “essential.” From building cleaning services, to restaurant workers, grocery store employees, nurses, and farm workers, our community is on the front lines more than any other community in this fight against the pandemic.

In fact, 41.2 percent of all front-line workers are Black, Hispanic or Asian-American/Pacific Islander, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, an economic policy think tank. Hispanics are especially overrepresented in building cleaning services (40.2 percent of workers).

Latinos also have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., according to the Department of Health and Human Services. All of these factors add up to a dangerous and deadly combination that has resulted in the outsized number of deaths among Latinos.

Some are saying that the virus is causing the ‘historic decimation’ of Latinos.

Speaking at a virtual Congressional Hispanic Caucus meeting last week, a global health expert warned that the Coronavirus is causing “the historic decimation” of the Latino community, ravaging generations of loved ones in Hispanic families.

To illustrate his point, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, read off descriptions of people who died on Aug. 13 in Houston alone.

“Hispanic male, Hispanic male, Hispanic male, black male, Hispanic male, black male, Hispanic male, Hispanic female, black female, black male, Hispanic, Hispanic, Hispanic, Hispanic, Hispanic, Hispanic” Hotez said, adding that many are people in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

“This virus is taking away a whole generation of mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, you know, who are young kids, teenage kids. And it occurred to me that what we’re seeing really is the historic decimation among the Hispanic community by the virus,” he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci – a popular figure in the fight against Coronavirus – has also raised the alarm.

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, gave a recent update on the impact on the Latino community. He pointed out that hospitalizations among Latinos 359 per 100,000 compared to 78 in whites. Deaths related to Covid-19 are 61 per 100,000 in the Latino population compared to 40 in whites, and Latinos represent 45 percent of deaths of people younger than 21, Fauci said.

Fauci said the country can begin to address this “extraordinary problem” now by making sure the community gets adequate testing and immediate access to care. But he said this is not a one-shot resolution.

“This must now reset and re-shine a light on this disparity related to social determinants of health that are experienced by the Latinx community — the fact that they have a higher incidence of co-morbidities, which put you at risk,” Fauci said.

Fauci also urged the Latino congressional members on the call to get their Latino constituents to consider enrolling in vaccination trials so they can be proven to be safe in everyone, including African Americans and Latinos.

“We need to get a diverse representation of the population in the clinical trials,” he said.

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