New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has urged people not travel out of the state this Thanksgiving and is calling on the federal government to mandate providing a negative coronavirus test result before boarding a plane.
The mayor made the plea Tuesday during a press conference after the city recently experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases, leading to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordering mandatory periods of quarantine for people traveling in from 47 states.
The seven-day average for new cases across the city stood at 528 on Monday, which is below the threshold of 550.
But several hotspots in Brooklyn – including Borough Park, Mapleton and Midwood – remain in the ‘red zone’ indicating the locations of the highest number of cases.
Mayor Bill de Blasio told New Yorkers ‘Do not travel out of state for the holiday’ on Tuesday
The mayor is pushing for a mandate that requires negative tests before flying out of JFK and LaGuardia airports
De Blasio said the city wants to ‘make it easy and clear that anyone coming off a plane should immediately get tested as well.’ A passenger airplane lands at LaGuardia Airport on October 1
Of the 496,655 positive cases reported over the past three days in New York State on Sunday, 258,979 were from NYC and 424 of those were new cases from the city, Cuomo reported Monday.
The seven-day rolling average of daily cases in the city was 355 cases on Sunday.
With the Big Apple daily positivity rate at 2.48% and the seven-day rolling average 1.66% on Monday, De Blasio also warned that he will shut schools again if the weekly average figure reached 3%.
‘I hate to say it, but I have to urge all New Yorkers: Do not travel out of state for the holiday,’ he said of advice from health officials.
‘Realize that by doing that, unfortunately, you could be putting yourself and your family in danger and also the risk of bringing the disease back here.’
De Blasio acknowledged that the holiday season is when New Yorkers want to see their loved one most and sympathized with those concerned about older family members.
He also tweeted his plea for people in the Big Apple to forgo travel this Thanksgiving holiday
Travelers at the American Airlines Terminal 8 check-in counter at JFK airport on October 1
A man gets his temperature checked during testing for COVID-19 before boarding his flight at the new testing facility XpresCheck at Newark Liberty International Airport Terminal B on September 8, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey
MUST QUARANTINE IN NEW YORK LIST
However he determined that leaving the state was risky considering the rising numbers around the country and across the globe.
‘Everyone is going to make their own decision, I know there are painful choices. I get it. But my recommendation is to avoid travel this holiday season. Stay safe, to keep us all safe,’ de Blasio said.
‘I can’t see traveling to family in other places,’ he said about his own plans. ‘I can’t see it working for anybody. It’s sad, it’s very sad. I really really love it, care about it.
‘But, I’m sort of telling myself what I’m telling everyone else: This may be the one year in our life we have to change our patterns, just take a deep breath and know that next year will be better.’
Temperature checks have been taking place at JFK and New Jersey’s Newark Airport which is often used by those visiting and living in NYC. Until the last couple of months, Newark only administered tests to airline employees and related parties.
XpresSpa Group has been switching from providing spa services at airports in the midst of the global pandemic to carrying out tests.
Although the airline industry is reporting record losses due to the pandemic and some have made plans to start filling middle seats again in a bid to increase earnings, the mayor indicated that it wasn’t a good idea for New Yorkers to travel now considering the health risk.
Earlier this month, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) reported that there had only been 44 instances of COVID-19 transmission linked to flights out of 1.2 billion journeys taken this year.
However it doesn’t look into chances of being infected while not in the assigned aircraft seat and at the airport.
Dr David Freedman, of the University of Alabama, said IATA’s statistics failed to take into account how many infections probably went unknown and called the findings the result of ‘bad math.’
However in a report released Tuesday that was funded by airlines, Harvard scientists said flying to visit loved ones this holiday season poses a low risk for catching or spreading coronavirus and that air travel is likely ‘as safe or substantially safer’ than every day activities like grocery shopping and dining out.
But keeping transmission risks of COVID-19 during airline flights very low relies on travelers to us face coverings and for airlines to up their sanitation efforts, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health said.
‘We want to make it easy and clear that anyone coming off a plane should immediately get tested as well,’ de Blasio continued.
‘It’s not about the airline industry, it’s about your health, your family’s health, the city’s health and safety. The country, that’s what we should be thinking about.’
While he described the seven averages for NYC as ‘fairly stable,’ de Blasio said: ‘We have a real threat of a second wave here in New York City, and we’ve been fighting it back but we can’t take it lightly.’
De Blasio’s critics called him a hypocrite and pointed out that he went to visit family out of state on Columbus Day.
Others complained that New Yorkers can’t stay home forever and suggested that people move to states that are more relaxed about the lockdowns, such as Florida.
The area for TSA screening of travelers at JFK airport’s Terminal 1 is relatively empty on March 13 in New York. Airlines have started filling middle seats again after it was reported that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a plane seat was low
However one expert said that the military findings were the result of ‘bad math’ as it didn’t consider aspects of traveling outside of sitting in an aircraft seat
Some Twitter users responded that they couldn’t do the holidays without seeing family after the COVID-19 outbreak
Others suggested moving to another part of the country where restrictions aren’t as harsh
One Twitter user mentioned a national strategy for handling the coronavirus pandemic
One social media user complained that the mayor didn’t have the same concern when it came to sending children back into classrooms
By contrast, people pointed out how his strict thinking about safe travel wasn’t in line with how children have been rushed back into in-person learning.
One person said some youngsters were made to go back sooner than expected because the option of future enrollment was taken away.
The US is reporting an average of 70,000 new cases a day.
Nearly half a million people in the United States have contracted the novel coronavirus in the last seven days, according to a Reuters tally, as cases and hospitalizations set fresh records in hot spots in the Midwest.
More than 5,600 people have been infected with the virus nationwide in the last week, with hospitalizations shooting up 13%, a Reuters analysis showed.
Illinois, which has emerged as a hot spot in recent weeks, reported over 31,000 new cases in the last seven days, more new infections than any other state except Texas.
President Donald Trump has lashed out repeatedly at reports that the coronavirus is surging, and reiterated his false claim that the country is ’rounding the turn’ in its battle with the virus that has killed approximately 225,800 people.
With the Big Apple daily positivity rate at 2.48% and seven-day rolling average 1.66%, De Blasio also warned that he will shut schools again if the weekly average figure reached 3%
As of Sunday the 7-day rolling average was 355 coronavirus cases in New York City but it’s creeping up
COVID-19 hotspot neighborhoods in Brooklyn include Borough Park, Mapleton and Midwood
However Tuesday’s report from Harvard provides a bright outlook for those considering whether to travel.
The report, funded by Airlines for America – a trade group representing American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and others – and a consortium of aircraft and equipment manufacturers and airport operators, comes as US airlines lose billions of dollars a month as passenger demand remains down 65 percent year on year because of the coronavirus.
US carriers are operating just 50 percent the flights they did in 2019. Some carriers have recently announced new plans to end blocking of middle seats during the pandemic.
The Aviation Public Health Initiative team at Harvard recommended strategies to mitigate transmission risk on aircraft, during boarding and exiting.
The report found after airlines mandated masks, boosted cleaning procedures and revised boarding procedures, ‘and with millions of passenger hours flown, there has been little evidence to date of onboard disease transmission.’
The report noted commercial passenger aircraft are equipped with ventilation systems that refresh cabin air on average every 2-3 minutes and removing more than 99 percent of particles of the size that cause SARS-CoV-2.
The US is reporting an average of 70,000 new coronavirus cases a day
The coronavirus that has killed approximately 225,800 people in the United States
Illinois, which has emerged as a hot spot in recent weeks, reported over 31,000 new cases in the last seven days, more new infections than any other state except Texas
CDC HOLIDAY GUIDANCE
The CDC says traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.
IF YOU DO TRAVEL:
Wear a mask in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere you will be around other people.
Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
HIGH RISK: Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
Attending crowded parades
Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.
Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
Attending a small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place
LOWER RISK: Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home