Experts say ‘wait and see’ for air travel as omicron variant surfaces


Just as things were getting on a roll for the Thanksgiving holiday, passenger traffic at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport more than doubled than it was at this time in 2020, and now people are looking forward to end-of-year trips.But with the uncertainty of the omicron variant, many people are left wondering if they should take their trips. Unfortunately, according to the experts, it is still a wait-and-see situation.|| COVID-19 updates | Maryland’s latest numbers | Get tested | Vaccine Info ||People heading home from the Thanksgiving holiday spoke with 11 News Monday saying they still feel comfortable traveling.”I don’t mind traveling as long as we’re all being pretty safe. Every time I’m in the airport, everyone has their mask on unless they’re eating. Most people are vaccinated and even if they aren’t, they do at least adhere to the rules, keeping their mask so I’m not too worried about traveling,” traveler Gladys Kanu said.According to the Transportation Security Administration, during the 10-day Thanksgiving travel rush from Nov. 19-28, almost 21 million passengers went through TSA checkpoints. Last year, that number was almost 10 million. At BWI-Marshall, just over 257,000 passengers compared to more than 118,000 a year before.”People who hadn’t traveled in quite some time or probably not a custom to seeing some of the changes that have been implemented as a result of the pandemic,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said.| LINK: BWI-Marshall Holiday Travel Guide 2021TSA officials said things went smoothly as officers are now all wearing masks and gloves, using acrylic shields for protection and passengers can now scan in their own IDs and boarding passes, but there are concerns going forward concerning the omicron variant.”We are monitoring the situation with the new COVID variant. We take our cues from the CDC,” Farbstein said.So, what are travelers to do? Travel agent Dilworth Daley said, “Wait and see.” Daley said for those who haven’t made plans yet get “cancel for any reason” travel insurance.”So, if you decide to change your mind or something comes up you don’t want to go, you’ll lose the cost of the travel insurance, but you’ll get your money back,” he said.| RELATED: Maryland monitoring COVID-19 omicron variant; Hogan urges vaccinationFor those who have already booked, it gets more tricky. Daley said you should check with your credit card and or airline to see if they can offer any credits as many did at the beginning of the pandemic.”They were pretty flexible. They were giving credits, sometimes a year in advance, a year and a half-supplied people had plenty of time to hopefully use those credits at another destination in the future,” Daley said.| RELATED: Federal officials bracing for first detection of omicron variant in USSo far, the United States has halted travel to eight African countries. Travelers coming to the U.S. from out of the country do need to show a negative COVID-19 test.It is not clear at this point whether more travel restrictions will be put in place soon.

Just as things were getting on a roll for the Thanksgiving holiday, passenger traffic at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport more than doubled than it was at this time in 2020, and now people are looking forward to end-of-year trips.

But with the uncertainty of the omicron variant, many people are left wondering if they should take their trips. Unfortunately, according to the experts, it is still a wait-and-see situation.

|| COVID-19 updates | Maryland’s latest numbers | Get tested | Vaccine Info ||

People heading home from the Thanksgiving holiday spoke with 11 News Monday saying they still feel comfortable traveling.

“I don’t mind traveling as long as we’re all being pretty safe. Every time I’m in the airport, everyone has their mask on unless they’re eating. Most people are vaccinated and even if they aren’t, they do at least adhere to the rules, keeping their mask so I’m not too worried about traveling,” traveler Gladys Kanu said.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, during the 10-day Thanksgiving travel rush from Nov. 19-28, almost 21 million passengers went through TSA checkpoints. Last year, that number was almost 10 million. At BWI-Marshall, just over 257,000 passengers compared to more than 118,000 a year before.

“People who hadn’t traveled in quite some time or probably not a custom to seeing some of the changes that have been implemented as a result of the pandemic,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said.

| LINK: BWI-Marshall Holiday Travel Guide 2021

TSA officials said things went smoothly as officers are now all wearing masks and gloves, using acrylic shields for protection and passengers can now scan in their own IDs and boarding passes, but there are concerns going forward concerning the omicron variant.

“We are monitoring the situation with the new COVID variant. We take our cues from the CDC,” Farbstein said.

So, what are travelers to do? Travel agent Dilworth Daley said, “Wait and see.”

Daley said for those who haven’t made plans yet get “cancel for any reason” travel insurance.

“So, if you decide to change your mind or something comes up you don’t want to go, you’ll lose the cost of the travel insurance, but you’ll get your money back,” he said.

| RELATED: Maryland monitoring COVID-19 omicron variant; Hogan urges vaccination

For those who have already booked, it gets more tricky. Daley said you should check with your credit card and or airline to see if they can offer any credits as many did at the beginning of the pandemic.

“They were pretty flexible. They were giving credits, sometimes a year in advance, a year and a half-supplied people had plenty of time to hopefully use those credits at another destination in the future,” Daley said.

| RELATED: Federal officials bracing for first detection of omicron variant in US

So far, the United States has halted travel to eight African countries. Travelers coming to the U.S. from out of the country do need to show a negative COVID-19 test.

It is not clear at this point whether more travel restrictions will be put in place soon.



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Air travelers preparing for long lines during one of the busiest travel days of the year



FORT MYERS

Flights and airports across the country are expected to be packed on Sunday, one of the busiest traveling days of the year as people rush to get home after the Thanksgiving holiday.

RSW airport wasn’t packed early on Sunday. The lines were short and parking was abundant.

WINK News spoke with a parent who was dropping her child off at the airport to return back to school. They got to the airport two hours before her flight expecting a long line, but when it was empty, they decided to spend some extra time together before they parted ways.

“We got here at 5 expecting the line to be long, and then it was really short and we were like OK we woke up early for nothing,” said Ansley Tedford.

Audra Tedford said, “I was expecting to see full lines at security and then we woke up and it was empty I couldn’t believe it.”

While RSW wasn’t very busy early on Sunday morning, the crowds and lines are expected to grow as the day goes on.

Extra security lines have been set up for overflow. RSW is urging anyone flying out of the airport arrive at least two hours early in anticipation of crowds.



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Covid-19 Live Updates: U.S. Air Travel Doubles for Thanksgiving Holiday


ImageTravelers at Ronald Reagan National Airport outside Washington on Wednesday. It was the busiest day for airports across the United States since the pandemic began.
Credit…Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock

Thanksgiving air travel did not reach the record highs of 2019, but it was close. About 2.3 million people passed through Transportation Safety Administration checkpoints on Wednesday, more travelers than on any other day during the pandemic.

This figure was more than twice as many travelers as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving last year. This year’s total was about 88 percent of the travelers that flew on that same Wednesday in 2019.

Social media was abuzz with nearly equal complaints about the longest airport lines people had experienced in years and surprise that lines were so short, reinforcing the idea pandemic unpredictability persists.

Among those travelers sharing a sense of excitement about being able to visit family this Thanksgiving, was Katie Thurston of San Diego, known to some as the Bachelorette from Season 17 of that reality show.

“To go back to something that feels normal makes me feel so emotional,” she said in a telephone interview, after tweeting about her tearful reaction to landing in Seattle to visit her mother and sister and meet her baby niece for the first time.

Hundreds of airport food service workers picketed on Wednesday at San Francisco International Airport over a dispute involving health care. But contrary to some passengers’ fears — and warnings from the Southwest Airlines pilots union in August — there were no walkouts by flight attendants or pilots on Wednesday.

Amid concerns that passengers would get aggressive with flight attendants and pick fights about masks — issues throughout the pandemic — Attorney General Merrick B. Garland urged federal prosecutors to prioritize the prosecution of passengers that commit assault or other crimes on board.

Typically, the busiest days for air travel during the Thanksgiving period are the Tuesday and Wednesday before the holiday, and the Sunday after it, according to a T.S.A. spokesman.

United said that the airline expected the Sunday after Thanksgiving to be its busiest day since the pandemic began. Still, the day seemed unlikely to surpass prepandemic travel figures overall given how extraordinary that weekend was two years ago. More people flew on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019 — according to T.S.A. checkpoint data — than ever before in the agency’s 20-year history.

And travelers are unlikely to face weather delays as they try to get home.

“Sunday is pretty quiet across much of the country,” said Lara Pagano, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

Still, Becky Esquivel, a T.S.A. officer at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, urged people to arrive at least two hours before boarding their return flights just to be safe.

Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

A handful of people lingered around the counter in Andy’s Deli on 80th Street and Columbus Avenue, ordering bagels and coffee or picking up last-minute holiday supplies as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade rolled on nearby.

Nick Spathis and his staff took orders and rang up purchases from police officers and parade volunteers. Locals trickled in. Across the street, Columbus Avenue was packed.

Last year, Andy’s was closed, the first time Mr. Spathis, who’s owned the business for 33 years, was not open on Thanksgiving. And while this year Mr. Spathis opened at 5 a.m., the morning was quiet.

“It’s not surprising to me,” he said, after handing some coffees to wranglers for the Pillsbury Doughboy balloon. “With the pandemic, everything is slow.”

“It’s getting along little by little,” he added later. “It might take another year.”

Businesses and entrepreneurs along Columbus Avenue, parallel to the parade route along Central Park West, had mixed reactions to whether the parade’s comeback and the foot traffic brought with it an economic boost. For some, the morning yawned on no differently from other mornings. For others, its return brought a high volume of customers.

A few blocks away, Mast Market, which opened one week ago, had its first lull in the morning at about 9:30. The shop normally opened a half-hour earlier than normal.

“There were enough people lined up outside peering in,” Robin Mates, the market’s manager, said. “It’s been nonstop.”

Banca Grucan stood on Columbus, yelling as she hawked balloons, including a Buzz Lightyear one.

Originally from Ecuador, Ms. Grucan has been selling her wares on Thanksgiving morning for 12 years. She had barely sold 20 balloons by about 10 a.m., she said in Spanish, less than half of what she sold in years past.

For the past 40 years, Thomas Johnson has trekked from Connecticut to sell turkey hats on Thanksgiving. Last year, was the first he did not make the yearly pilgrimage. “It was depressing,” Mr. Johnson, 62, said.

On Thursday, Mr. Johnson was all smiles as he stood on the corner of 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue.

“Turkey hats,” he shouted, gobbling like a turkey with his signature headgear.

One happy customer called out to him from the street: “My gobbling friend you got me looking good on Facebook — thank you so much!”

Business was so brisk he could barely keep up with demand. By early morning, he had sold about 100 hats and was ordering more from a supplier.

“I love it — I love it!” Mr. Johnson said, holding some turkey hats and throwing his hands up in the air. The people and the costumes bring him joy, he said. He posed for at least one photo with costumers.

“If my friends could see me now, they’d be laughing,” he added later, saying he’s a teacher. “I wear a suit and tie normally.”

Credit…Stephane Mahe/Reuters

Thousands rushed to book vaccination appointments in France on Thursday after the government announced that all adults were eligible for a booster shot and that health passes would no longer be valid after a certain period if they failed to get one.

France’s health minister, Olivier Véran, said at a news conference on Thursday that France was experiencing a new wave of cases that would be “stronger and longer” than the one over the summer, but that “no lockdown, no curfew, no store closures, no travel restrictions” would be enforced.

By focusing on vaccinations and social distancing measures, he said, “we are making the choice to reconcile freedom and responsibility.”

Starting this weekend, anyone age 18 and above will be able to get a booster shot, beginning five months after their second injection at the earliest, Mr. Véran said. Previously the booster shot was available only for health care workers, those at high risk of severe Covid and people 65 and above. Approximately 19 million people are affected by the new announcement, Mr. Véran said.

Some adults who have not received a booster shot within seven months of their second injection will see their passes expire, barring access to restaurants, museums, long-distance trains and other public places unless they get tested regularly, Mr. Véran said.

He said that over 400,000 vaccination appointments had been booked on Wednesday, ahead of his news conference.

About 70 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. But the number of new daily cases has spiked recently to about 30,000 over the past few days, according to French officials, and have reached the prime minister. The recent surge has led to the closure of 8,500 school classes, up from 4,100 last week.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, France’s education minister, announced at the news conference that classes would no longer close if one student tests positive, but that they will require that all students continue to be tested. Only those who test negative will be able to return, he said.

Hospitalizations — mainly of unvaccinated patients — have also been increasing, according to French health authorities.

Mr. Véran also urged the French to observe social distancing rules and guidelines. He announced that starting on Friday, masks would be mandatory indoors even for establishments or events that require a health pass, and that the pass would also be required to gain access to Christmas markets.

“We must remain vigilant at all times, get back to good habits,” Mr. Veran said.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gets people excited — at least judging by some of the responses I received when I posted on social media last week that I would be marching with the Pikachu balloon.

Growing up, I often watched the parade on television. I have fond memories of a Sesame Street float, a vague recollection of one with Marvel heroes and villains, and I was always in awe of the Superman balloon. (It turns out there were three. The last Man of Steel balloon made his final parade appearance in 1987.)

But as a child I never gave a second thought to what a production it must be to pull off a successful parade. A year and a half ago, I started looking for a way to participate. (I first tried to do it last year, but Covid curtailed the length of the parade, the balloons, the volunteers and the onlookers.)

I was brought into the ranks of balloon handlers — it almost feels like a whisper network, you need to know someone who knows someone — by a former colleague who had marched many times. I told her I was interested in joining in and she helped me become a volunteer on her team this year.

Credit…Idris Solomon for The New York Times

The sign-up process involved uploading my proof of vaccination, watching a training video in the proper care of balloon handling and more. I added a new phrase to my vocabulary: “handling bone.” That’s the device used to hold and tow the lines that ease the balloons down the parade route and, later, to the deflating area.

As a native New Yorker, I’m eager to take part in such a Big Apple experience, though it’ll be a long day, thankfully, if forecasts are correct, with mild weather. I need to check in at 7:15 a.m. and will likely not be done until after 12:30 p.m.

My one worry, as a momma’s boy, was being late to my family’s Thanksgiving lunch, a tradition which stems from a time when my sister and I worked evening shifts at The New York Times. But I dutifully visited my mother on Wednesday afternoon, asked her to keep an eye out for me on television and promised I would eat plenty when I arrived.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

A giant, animatronic turkey is once again waddling down Central Park West at the head of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which returned on Thursday in its full, helium-filled glory.

Last holiday, the coronavirus forced officials to order a one-block long, nearly crowd-free version of the parade, which typically runs from 77th Street on the Upper West Side to Herald Square in Midtown Manhattan. The parade, which began in 1924 and is in its 95th iteration, has been canceled rarely, including during World War II.

Along the 2.5 mile route will stroll over 4,500 volunteers towing among them 15 giant helium balloons, old favorites like Smokey Bear, and newcomers like Ada Twist, Scientist, from the popular storybook, who clocks in at 51-feet tall.

The return of such sights — of large crowds, of public joy, of celebrities on floats and beloved characters transformed into balloons — felt deeply symbolic for many who anticipated the spectacle.

“Moments of celebration are important,” said Leroy Lamar, who came with his family to see the parade from Atlanta. “And it is important that we do them together.”

Video

transcript

transcript

‘Inflation Day’ Returns Before the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Spectators lined up to watch workers prepare giant character balloons before the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was reduced to just one block in 2020 because of the pandemic.

“We decided to come last year, but for the pandemic, we couldn’t come. So finally, we get it this year, and we are so happy and excited to be here.” “Yes.” ”This is amazing. We are we are waking up at 5 a.m. to be here tomorrow.” [laughs] “So this is his first time in New York and his first time seeing the parade, and it’s exciting for us because it’s been a family tradition since I was a little kid.” “Say ‘balloon.’” “Balloon.” “Balloon.”

Video player loading
Spectators lined up to watch workers prepare giant character balloons before the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was reduced to just one block in 2020 because of the pandemic.CreditCredit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday is notably different from last year’s limited celebration, which was reduced to just one block, with spectators discouraged from coming out.

Around 6,500 people will come together to work on this year’s parade, which will follow a 2.5-mile route through New York City, starting on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and ending in Midtown. Everyone who participates in the parade must be vaccinated, but there is no vaccination requirement for spectators.

Here’s what you need to know about this year’s festivities.

Who will broadcast the event?

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The parade is being televised starting at 9 a.m. on NBC, Telemundo and the Peacock streaming service.

The “Today” show’s Al Roker, Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie are hosting the show, which will end at noon.

Where is the parade?

The parade started at 9 a.m. at West 77th Street and Central Park West, but there will be limited public viewing, or none at all, at that location.

Many fans arrived along the route hours earlier to get spots with unobstructed views of the performers. The best places for viewing the parade include Central Park West from West 75th to West 61st Streets, and Sixth Avenue from West 59th to West 38th Streets.

You can find a detailed map of the route here.

Who will be in the parade?

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Performers in the parade will include Jon Batiste, Kelly Rowland, Nelly, Mickey Guyton and Carrie Underwood.

Some of the younger participants will include Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and a group of competitive rope jumpers. Ten high school and college marching bands — including the Hampton University Marching Force — will also fill the streets. (Children under 12 will not be allowed to participate in the parade itself this year but will be allowed as spectators.)

There will also be 15 giant balloons and 28 floats. Some of the balloons will be as high as four-story buildings or as wide as six taxicabs.

What’s new?

A balloon resembling Grogu — a character from “The Mandalorian” who is also known as Baby Yoda — will fly above the parade Thursday, the first time a “Star Wars” balloon will be part of the festivities.

Ada from the Netflix show “Ada Twist, Scientist” will also make her debut in balloon form this year. The pen tucked behind her ear is the length of 27 real pens lined up.

Pokémon is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a new balloon of Pikachu and his friend Eevee sitting on a sleigh — the blades of which are about the same length as a semitrailer truck.

While McDonald’s has had a Ronald McDonald balloon in the parade since 1987, this year it will debut a new design. The balloon of Ronald McDonald will hold a giant red heart.

“Ronald is sharing his heart with us at a time when we all need some extra love,” the Macy’s website reads.

Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

On Thursday, five members of the extended Dewar family stood on Central Park West at 81st Street in pastel pink and teal jumpsuits and hot pink wigs.

For nearly a decade, Raymond Dewar, the patriarch, had led them through the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But he died in 2020, the year the extravaganza was cut short because of the pandemic.

Now they’re marching to honor Mr. Dewar, said Monique Dewar, one of his daughters.

“We are so happy to be here,” she said, standing next to family members, who were beaming under their masks. “The only problem with the mask,” she said, was “no clown makeup this year.”

The Dewars were joined by thousands of others who had to skip the parade last year.

Credit…Sarah Nir/The New York Times

Minutes before the kickoff, Sergeant Gabriel Vazquez of the New York City Parks Department, sat on an American spotted draft horse named Apollo, holding up an American flag.

He hasn’t ridden in the parade in several years he said, but this year he couldn’t miss it.

Atop his horse, striding down the route, he said, “It’s like we are walking back toward normal.”

Video

transcript

transcript

‘Inflation Day’ Returns Before the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Spectators lined up to watch workers prepare giant character balloons before the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was reduced to just one block in 2020 because of the pandemic.

“We decided to come last year, but for the pandemic, we couldn’t come. So finally, we get it this year, and we are so happy and excited to be here.” “Yes.” ”This is amazing. We are we are waking up at 5 a.m. to be here tomorrow.” [laughs] “So this is his first time in New York and his first time seeing the parade, and it’s exciting for us because it’s been a family tradition since I was a little kid.” “Say ‘balloon.’” “Balloon.” “Balloon.”

Video player loading
Spectators lined up to watch workers prepare giant character balloons before the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was reduced to just one block in 2020 because of the pandemic.CreditCredit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

For a moment it seemed New York City was almost back to normal.

After the pandemic forced an attenuated, blocklong version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last year, this year the iconic event was set to roar back to life, with the full complement of floats, balloons, and marching bands expected to parade on Thursday all along Central Park West to Herald Square.

And once again it kicked off on Wednesday with another tradition, known locally as “Inflation Day” — the public viewing on 72nd Street of the giant Pikachu, Papa Smurf, Smokey Bear and other balloon stars as they were filled with helium for the parade.

“Anyone wishing to see the inflation of the balloons must get off at this station,” a train driver for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said over the loudspeaker of an uptown C train as it pulled in to the 72nd Street subway station “This is where you see the balloons.”

Just up the subway stairs was another, less welcoming announcement. “Welcome to fascist New York!” an anti-vaccine demonstrator shouted repeatedly at the crowd, which included little children, parents, and veterans in wheelchairs, as they passed by on their way to view the balloons.

And as people streamed east on 71st Street, they were met by a gauntlet of people in red pinnies with “vax checker” written on their backs. The checkers asked everyone to show their identification and vaccination cards, and to put on a face mask.

On 81st Street, Diane Roberts, who works in media in Washington, D.C., was celebrating a what she called a milestone birthday a year late — she refused to say which one — with four best friends who were at last able to travel from around the country to be with her.

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Just speaking about being able to see the parade brought tears to her eyes. She wasn’t bothered by the vaccine checkers, the crowd control or the necessity of masks. “It is a cloud over it but it but I still think it’s better to be here masked then not to be here at all,” she said.

A few blocks away was the Lamar family, visiting from Atlanta, Georgia, on their first family trip since the pandemic began more than 20 months ago. They were taking in a giant green dinosaur. “Moments of celebration are important,” Leroy Lamar, who runs a nonprofit organization, said. “And it is important that we do them together.”

Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

The European Medicines Agency approved on Thursday the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, bringing European governments one step closer to inoculating young children.

The recommendation of the European Union’s drug regulator will now be sent to the European Commission, the bloc’s administrative arm, for final approval, which it is expected to do swiftly. It will then be up to the national health authorities to decide if and when they will start inoculating young children.

The decision comes amid a Covid spike across the bloc. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said on Wednesday that European governments should accelerate their vaccination rates, consider booster shots for adults and tighten restrictions in order to avoid a “very high burden” on national health care systems. Approximately 66 percent of the European Union’s total population has been fully inoculated, according to E.C.D.C. data.

The regulator approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 in May, in what the agency called “an important step forward in the fight against the pandemic.”

All 27 member nations are now inoculating adolescents, according to the E.C.D.C.

The European Commission also proposed a nine-month period of validity of coronavirus vaccinations for travelers coming from outside and inside the bloc.

“It’s good to have a booster shot after the six months have expired,” Didier Reynders, the bloc’s commissioner for justice, told reporters on Thursday, citing evidence that the immunity provided by coronavirus vaccines wanes after six months. “These three months should allow national campaigns to be set up and for citizens to actually get the booster shot.”

E.U. citizens traveling between different member countries will be required to present a vaccination certificate, proof of recovery from the virus in the past six months or a negative test.

The proposal is expected to come into force on Jan. 10, pending approval from national governments.

The commission also proposed new rules for foreigners traveling from outside the bloc: Until now, nonessential tourists from a limited number of countries could enter the European Union regardless of their vaccination status. That list has been updated to include other criteria, including caseload and vaccination rates.

Credit…Carlos Osorio/Reuters

Canada’s health regulator on Wednesday granted full approval for Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, making Canada the first nation to do so.

The decision was made after a third phase of a study showed the shot was 85 percent effective in preventing severe disease and, starting 28 days after vaccination, from death.

“Today marks the first major regulatory approval for the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and an important moment to recognize the dedication of everyone involved in our Covid-19 vaccine development, our partners, the regulators and clinical study participants,” said Paul Stoffels, the company’s chief scientific officer.

Use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States has not been as widespread as that of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, and studies have found the Johnson vaccine provides less protection than the other two. In April, use of the vaccine came to a sudden halt after U.S. health agencies called for a brief pause so they could study a rare blood-clotting disorder that emerged in six recipients.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson booster shots last month, despite concern among the F.D.A.’s expert advisory panel that data in the company’s application was limited and wasn’t independently verified.

Some F.D.A. experts and committee members argued that recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine needed an additional shot to bolster against severe Covid-19, since that vaccine was less effective than those of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

The F.D.A. discussed data with the committee showing that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was only roughly 70 percent effective against hospitalization, compared with around 90 percent for the Moderna and Pfizer shots. But other data, including from a study of nearly nine million people in New York State, found better results from a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, including for older Americans, by offering durable protection.

Johnson & Johnson doses have been distributed abroad through Covax, the global vaccine-sharing program, in an effort to bolster immunity in poorer countries, including many in Africa.

Many of those shots have been provided through a deal reached in May, under which Johnson & Johnson agreed to sell about 200 million doses to Covax at a discounted rate. Last week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that the United States had negotiated a deal to ship additional doses of the vaccine overseas, to help people living in conflict zones.

Credit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

The tragedy at a parade in Waukesha came less than a week from one of the country’s best known events: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Concern about intentional attacks on the parade have long driven law enforcement efforts to secure the route. And New York has seen vehicle ramming turn deadly at other crowded events in recent years.

In 2017, a driver who was apparently under the influence of drugs rammed into crowded sidewalks in Times Square, killing one and injuring more than 20 people before security barricades stopped him. And, later that same year, a 29-year-old man rammed his pickup truck into pedestrian traffic along the busy West Side Highway, killing eight and injuring 11.

More recently, in September 2020, a vehicle rammed through a crowd of demonstrators who were protesting police brutality in Times Square.

But the scale of the Thanksgiving parade in New York is so large that it is difficult to draw comparisons, a law enforcement official said. The parade for years has been seen as a high-value target for extremist and terror groups.

“You can’t really take an incident that occurs at a holiday parade in a relatively small city and compare it to what we do in New York City for that event,” said John Miller, the deputy commissioner for the Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau.

The space around the parade is what is known as a “hardened route,” cordoned off from traffic by cars that block roads, sand-filled dump trucks and long gun teams, Mr. Miller said. The security measures include tools as mundane as metal barriers and as high-tech as radiation detectors fastened to the belts of police officers. And, the entire route is blanketed by the Lower and Midtown Manhattan Security Initiatives, a surveillance dragnet that overlays tactics like license plate readers and video surveillance to secure Midtown and Lower Manhattan.

“We don’t worry. We plan,” Mr. Miller said. “It’s a better use of our time.”

Clockwise from top left: Earl Wilson/The New York Times (2); Andrew Seng for The New York Times (2); Earl Wilson/The New York Times

Thousands of spectators lined the streets of New York City to watch the return of the full Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.





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Thanksgiving air travel set to be busiest since pandemic began | News


CHICAGO (Reuters) — Airports and commercial airlines across the United States registered one of their busiest days since before the pandemic on Wednesday as millions of Americans traveled to visit loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving-eve usually tends to be the busiest day for travel. This year, however, working from home allowed many people to travel early and avoid the last day rush.

“So far, so good,” said Lani Emanuel, who was traveling from Los Angeles to Seattle to see her daughter. “It was a little tricky finding parking, but it doesn’t seem too crazy busy just yet.”

At Newark Airport, too, passengers did not have to wait long to pass through the security checkpoints. Some of the restaurants at the airport were not packed, either.

Yet, the Transportation Security Administration advised passengers to arrive early to allow extra time for security. U.S. carriers also ramped up capacity, anticipating higher demand on Thanksgiving-eve, data from Cirium showed.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of what was shaping up as the busiest holiday season in two years. Rising Covid-19 vaccination rates have made people more confident about travel, leading to a surge in bookings.

U.S. consumers also enter the holiday season flush with spending power, thanks to a still-hefty pile of leftover savings from multiple rounds of government pandemic relief and now double-digit year-over-year wage increases as businesses compete for scarce workers.

Data out Wednesday showed consumer spending overall grew by a greater-than-expected 1.3% in October. Spending on big-ticket items like automobiles lifted the headline figure, but the data also showed broad-based increases in spending on services like travel and eating out that had been sharply curtailed during much of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Americans shelled out record amounts on recreation, eating out, staying away from home and foreign travel last month.

Ramping up staffing

The TSA expects to screen about 20 million air passengers during the Thanksgiving travel period, the most since 2019 when nearly 26 million Americans were on the move at that time. On Tuesday, the agency screened about 2.21 million U.S. air passengers, the sixth consecutive day with checkpoint volume topping 2 million.

Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokeswoman, said the agency has hired 6,000 new officers this year and has enough staff to deal with the increase in passenger volumes.

“So staffing, while we are hiring, will not slow people down this holiday season,” Dankers said.

The holiday weekend is also a test for carriers after a spate of flight cancellations marred travel over the summer. One in five Americans are concerned about delays and cancellations, an American Pecans/YouGov survey found.

Carriers have ramped up staffing and offered bonuses and other incentives to employees to ensure they have enough resources.

“We’re staffed and ready to get our customers to where they need to go safely, reliably and enjoyably,” a Delta Air Lines spokesperson said.

Calm weather expected for Thanksgiving should also help to prevent disruption.

U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak is also expecting a jump in passenger volumes. A company spokesperson said some trains are already close to full capacity.

Travel group AAA estimates, in all, 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020, with air travel recovering to about 91% of pre-pandemic levels.



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Times News’ Facebook friends chime in about air travel | News


From staff reports

The Times News asked its Facebook friends for a word or phrase to describe air travel this holiday season. Below are some responses:

Kevin Culbertson

Non existent for me

Margaret Gilliam Kaylor

Traveling Duffield express to my house

Alan Cloyd

Like that movie Home Alone a madhouse

Gary L. Mace

“Reduce airspeed, expect holding, delay indefinite.” — retired air traffic controller

Chris Cobb

Planes, trains and automobiles

Sidney Melrose

“U.S. Entitlement-minded behavior on full display”

Sherry Rickards

Mostly miserable. A necessary evil.

Vicki Helton

Stay grounded.

Dick Acker

Anxiety

Erik Tedder

Avoid at all costs



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Thanksgiving air travel already breaking pandemic records – Boston 25 News


BOSTON — Thanksgiving is still four days away, but it’s already breaking pandemic travel records.

The Transportation Security Administration reports 2.2 million people flew out of airports nationwide on Friday, Nov. 19 – considered to be the first day of Thanksgiving travel.

PREVIOUS: The Best and Worst times to travel Thanksgiving week

Friday was the busiest single travel day since the pandemic started, and the TSA anticipates the Sunday after Thanksgiving will be even busier.

Logan Airport officials expect between 800,000 – 900,000 people to pass through the airport for Thanksgiving travel this year.

Logan Airport officials recommend people arrive at the airport at least two hours before domestic flights and at least three hours early for international flights.

COVID-19 testing sites are available in Terminal C and Terminal E at Logan Airport.

In total, AAA predicts 53 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving this year – up 13% from last year.

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Air Canada Exits Canadian Government Support Program


Air Canada is withdrawing from the Canadian federal government’s financial support programs due to its improved liquidity position and ongoing recovery from the pandemic, the carrier announced Friday.

The support package under the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility, announced in April 2021, provided access to interest-bearing loans of C$5.4 billion and C$500 million in equity. To date, Air Canada has accessed about C$1.2 billion of the aid dedicated to refunding customers’ nonrefundable tickets, according to the company. Approximately 58 percent of eligible customers requested refunds. The money used for refunding those tickets will be repaid as per the terms of the agreement with interest paid quarterly by Air Canada.

The government purchased $500 million worth of Air Canada common shares at C$23.18 per share, which it continues to hold. Air Canada also issued to the government about 14.6 million 10-year warrants for the purchase of an equal number of Air Canada shares, at a price of approximately C$27.27 per share. With the termination of the operating credit facilities, half of these warrants, which have not yet vested with the government, have been canceled immediately. Subject to Toronto Stock Exchange approval, Air Canada intends to call the balance of the vested warrants for cancellation as per their terms at fair market value, according to the carrier.

RELATED: Air Canada to Issue Refunds for Canceled Tickets in Government Agreement



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Thanksgiving air travel to rebound to 2019 levels, TSA says


WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of airline passengers traveling for Thanksgiving this year is expected to rebound to pre-coronavirus pandemic…

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of airline passengers traveling for Thanksgiving this year is expected to rebound to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, but the Transportation Security Administration says it is ready to handle the surge.

Administrator David Pekoske said Wednesday he expects agency staffing to be sufficient for what’s traditionally TSA’s busiest travel period.

“We are prepared,” Pekoske told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He said travelers should expect long lines at airports and plan to spend a little more time getting through security.

In 2019, a record 26 million passengers and crew passed through U.S. airport screening in the 11-day period around Thanksgiving. But that plummeted in 2020 as the pandemic kept people at home.

Pekoske said he didn’t think a vaccine mandate going into effect for TSA agents Monday would have any effect on staffing for Thanksgiving next week.

“In fact, implementation of the mandate will make travel safer and healthier for everyone,” he said. “So, we see quite a significant increase in the number of our officers that are vaccinated, and I’m very confident that there will be no impact for Thanksgiving.”

Pekoske told NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday he remains “very concerned” about the issue of unruly passengers as incidents on airplanes have continued.

“The level of unruly behavior is much higher than I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it has referred 37 cases involving unruly airline passengers to the FBI for possible criminal prosecution since the number of disruptions on flights began to spike in January.

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© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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Delta Air Lines Helps New Parents Bring Adopted Son Home After Missed Flight




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Only two in five support raising taxes to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions, but most in favour of hiking cost of air travel – Sky News poll | Climate News


Only two in five people would support increasing taxes as part of efforts to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions – but a majority are in favour of hiking the cost of air travel and banning petrol and diesel cars from city centres, new polling suggests.

In a YouGov poll for Sky News, more than three-quarters of respondents (76%) said they believed the world’s climate was changing as a result of human activity.

This compared to one in 10 (11%) who agreed the world’s climate was changing but disagreed it was because of human activity, while only 2% said the world’s climate was not changing.

More than half (52%) thought the cost of and upheaval caused by climate change, if Britain does not reduce carbon emissions, would be worse than the cost and upheaval required to reduce the country’s carbon emissions. This compared to 23% who thought the opposite and 25% who weren’t sure.

YouGov/Sky News poll 9-10 November 2021
Image:
YouGov/Sky News poll, 9-10 November 2021

However, despite an overwhelming majority accepting man-made climate change, those who responded to the survey were split over how the issue should be tackled.

Two in five (40%) said they would support taxes being increased to help pay the costs of reducing Britain’s carbon emissions, with a greater proportion (44%) opposed.

There was majority support for increasing the cost of air travel (59% in support compared to 32% opposed), as well for banning petrol and diesel cars from city centres from 2030 (54% in support, 37% opposed).

But most respondents did not support increasing the cost of gas and electricity (78% opposed, 14% in support), increasing the cost of petrol or diesel (60% opposed, 32% in support), or increasing the cost of meat and dairy products (61% opposed, 31% in support).

One in five (22%) said they were most likely to purchase an electric car when they next buy a car, compared to 17% who said they would buy a petrol car and 7% who said they would buy a diesel car.

Two-thirds (66%) who said they would buy a petrol or diesel car said this was, among other reasons, because an electric car would be too expensive.

YouGov/Sky News poll 9-10 November 2021
Image:
YouGov/Sky News poll, 9-10 November 2021

When asked how energy efficient their current home is, 62% said it was efficient while 28% said it was not.

Of those who believed their current home was not very energy efficient, 38% said improving its energy efficiency would be too expensive, among other reasons.

The YouGov poll of 1,729 British adults was conducted on 9 and 10 November and prior to the conclusion of the COP26 international climate change conference in Glasgow.

More than three in five (62%) said they had not been paying much attention, or no attention at all, to the Glasgow summit, while nearly two in five (39%) said they had been taking notice.

YouGov/Sky News poll 9-10 November 2021
Image:
YouGov/Sky News poll, 9-10 November 2021

More than two-thirds (68%) were pessimistic that the world would make the necessary changes to limit the impact of climate change, with less than one-fifth (17%) optimistic.

Boris Johnson used the COP26 conference to urge world leaders to commit to action on reducing global warming.

But more than half (55%) of those surveyed believed the prime minister had done badly on providing global leadership on climate change, with less than a quarter (22%) thinking Mr Johnson had done well.

Prior to the conclusion of the Glasgow summit, less than one in 10 (9%) thought COP26 had been a success with more than one-fifth (42%) thinking it had not been one, although nearly half (49%) said they did not know.

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Commenting on the findings of the poll, YouGov’s director of political research Anthony Wells said: “All in all, people believe in climate change and say we should address it, but are far less willing to pay for it.”

The full results of the YouGov survey can be found here.



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