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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Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Entertainment

Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s 2021 and the Met Gala is back this year – after being canceled in 2020 thanks to a pandemic – with superstar poet Amanda Gorman being eyed to host the fashion event of the year. Given the 23-year-old’s show-stopping performance at the inauguration, the theme fittingly will be a celebration of America and American designers.

The Met Gala will return in 2021 with a very special guest as host.

Vogue’s “Oscars of Fashion” famously takes place on the first Monday of May. However, this year it’s been pushed back to September 13, in hopes that life will have returned to something closer to normal by then.

Epic poet Amanda Gorman is reportedly in talks to co-host the event alongside Tom Ford, who is the academy’s president. The breakout star of President Biden’s inauguration, Gorman is on the cover of the magazine’s May issue and the subject of a relentlessly glowing profile inside.

The black-tie gala, which raises funds for Met’s Costume Institute, is normally fashion’s biggest night and sees guests from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and even Maluma.

The event was canceled in 2020 thanks to a global pandemic.

The world’s most glamorous party was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, which was (and still is) raging the planet at the time. There was a virtual event in place of the 2020 event, with celebs like Julia Roberts, Priyanka Chopra and Amanda Seyfried showing off their looks from home and stars like Mindy Kaling and Adam Rippon taking part in the #MetGalaChallenge, recreating looks from past years.

This year’s event will draw inspiration from all things USA.

The theme of this year’s Met Gala has not been announced, but Page Six says the night will be devoted to honoring America and American designers, following the 18-month-long COVID crisis in this country.

Recent past themes for the event have included “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (2019), “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” (2018), and “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between (2017). And don’t forget 2016, when Zayn Malik wore robot-arms to Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Hector Vivas/Getty Images

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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