US How holiday travel bursts our bubbles
How to fly safer this holiday season
From choosing window seats to holding off on snacks, experts give their top tips on how to safely take to the sky for the holidays with the least amount of risk and stress."Everyone knows how close they're going to be with other people on a plane," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, a union representing flight attendants in the US. "But they may not be taking into account how full those airports will be as well. No space. No way to socially distance.
WASHINGTON — It's the holiday season. Time to gather with family and old friends, even people with whom you don't see eye-to-eye politically — and this year that may have special meaning.
The geographic self-segregation that has come to define American politics (the difference between where Democrats and Republicans tend to live) is often a subject for the Data Download. But combined with the pandemic, those geographic divides have real world, public health impacts.
After 20 months of COVID protocols, many families and friends are travelling and getting together for the first time in a long time and they are bringing with them different attitudes about the virus and the vaccine. Add it up and it could mean the country is due for another post-holiday season surge.
How Friendsgiving found its place in the holiday season
For many people in the US, the end of November is populated by two holidays: Thanksgiving, the family-oriented mainstay, and, increasingly, Friendsgiving. © Adobe Stock Ten years ago, Friendsgiving was a holiday tradition few had heard of. Now, it's seemingly everywhere. The unofficial holiday has been growing in popularity for the better part of a decade. First appearing in corners of the internet in 2007, the term "Friendsgiving" didn't start circulating significantly until 2013, according to Google search data. Since then, though, it's been ubiquitous.
The change in travel plans around Thanksgiving this year tells the story. More than 53 million Americans were planning to take to the road and the skies this past week, according to AAA.
That's an increase of more than 6 million people compared to last year, before there was a vaccine and before Americans had gotten exhausted by the pandemic.
The figures show there is still some hesitancy around travel. Back in 2019, the same AAA survey found 56 million Americans were going to travel for Thanksgiving. But this year's number still represents a 13 percent increases from 2020. It shows more people are breaking out of their community bubbles to see people from other places.
And that's where the political/health differences come into play.
Bidens open holidays with Christmas tree and 'friendsgiving'
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden opened the holiday season at the White House by breaking off a sprig from the official Blue Room tree and giving it — and a big smooch — to her toddler grandson. “Look how beautiful this is,” the first lady said of the 18 1/2-foot (5.6 meter) Fraser fir that was delivered by wagon to her Pennsylvania Avenue doorstep by Clydesdale horses named Ben and Winston. “It is beautiful. It's magnificent, really,” she said Monday.The first lady later joined President Joe Biden for a visit to the Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina to celebrate “friendsgiving” with service members and military families.
Every holiday season scores of stories are written about how to talk politics with those you disagree with, but this year those differences may well include a different COVID-19 vaccination statuses for Uncle Bob or Aunt Dora.
As of late-October, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 27 percent of American adults had not received a single vaccine dose for — about 1 in 4 adults. But the partisan divide in that 27 percent was remarkable — 17 percent of them were Democrats, 17 percent of them were independents and a whopping 60 percent were Republicans.
So, in some cases, the awkwardness of holiday conversations has risen to a whole new level. Before you start talking about Congress or the White House you might want to ask if your table mate has his or her vaccination card handy.
And it's not just about sitting around the table together or sharing the punchbowl that provides a COVID challenge. The point of travel is to pull you out of your environment into someplace different and even if everyone at your destination is vaccinated, there is still getting from point A to point B.
Europe's Christmas markets warily open as COVID cases rise
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The holiday tree is towering over the main square in this central German city, the chestnuts and sugared almonds are roasted, and kids are clambering aboard the merry-go-round just like they did before the pandemic. But a surge in coronavirus infections has left an uneasy feeling hanging over Frankfurt's Christmas market. To savor a mug of mulled wine — a pleasurable rite of winter in pre-pandemic times — masked customers must pass through a one-way entrance to a fenced-off wine hut, stopping at the hand sanitizer station.
The data show space between the two locations can be complicated. For all the talk of the vaccination rates of various states, the truth is just travelling a few miles can put you in a very different political and COVID environment.
For instance, consider Mecklenberg County and Stanly County in North Carolina.
The two places are less than a half-hour apart by car, but the political/COVID differences between them are stark. President Joe Biden won Mecklenberg by 35 percentage points and 59 percent of the total population has had two COVID shots. Former President Donald Trump won Stanly by 51 points and fewer than 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
And the phenomenon is not limited to North Carolina.
In Denver, Colorado, which Biden won by 62 percentage points, 72 percent of the population is full vaccinated. Meanwhile, in nearby Elbert County, which Trump won by 50 points, only 36 percent have received both doses.
In fact, compare maps and you can find similar patterns around the country from Tennessee to Kansas to California — “blue" counties with high vax rates near "red" counties with the opposite.
Football, family and parade floats: Traditions return on U.S. Thanksgiving Day
Football, family and parade floats: Traditions return on U.S. Thanksgiving Day(Reuters) -Americans returned to parade routes on Thursday as they prepared to pack football stadiums and gather more freely for family feasts, grateful to celebrate Thanksgiving Day traditions again after the pandemic kept many at home last year.
The unfortunate reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic has become politicized and this year the holiday season seems primed to show the impacts of that politicization as we emerge from our respective political bubbles and interact.
that urban areas that are more likely to vote Democratic are also more likely to have higher percentages of people who are fully vaccinated. But even the “bluest” high-vaccinated cities area connected by highways that run through very “red” low-vaccinated areas.
In short, even if you are vaccinated and visiting people who are vaccinated, the airports and rest stops and restaurants you visit along the way are likely to be filled with a cross-section of people holding different beliefs about politics and the virus that has disrupted life.
It all serves as a reminder that even in 21st Century America, no political bubble is airtight. We may increasingly live near and socialize with people who share our views, but the fates of red and blue America are more tightly intertwined than either side probably wants to admit.
How the new Covid-19 variant impacts your travel plans .
For those hoping to plan some long-overdue winter getaways abroad, Omicron raises multiple questions concerning whether or not to travel. Here are some of the biggest issues that might be on travelers' minds right now.Little is known about the new variant, dubbed Omicron, including how it will impact those infected or the levels of efficacy vaccines provide against it.