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Impacting Travel

Texas hotels fill up during winter storms

When I arrived at the Residence Inn Dallas by the Galleria, the nearly year-long collapse in demand for accommodations appeared, at least temporarily, ended.

When Arctic air crashed through climate change weakened Jetstream that normally corners it around the polar regions and invaded the Lone Star State this week, I was among the millions of Texans who were left without power, and not I was the only one who remedied it. loss with a hotel reservation.

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As I stood in line in a lobby full of wealthy-looking Dallasites, many dressed in incongruous layers of designer sweatshirts and outerwear with excited dogs of different sizes and breeds, I noticed a kind of weary, artificial joviality was in play. the standard order.

A well-dressed woman pretended to collapse against the reception desk’s Plexiglas partition with exaggerated relief when the receptionist apologized for the long wait. “It’s nice to be in a place with electricity and a working shower,” she drawled.

Evidence that the property had been virtually unoccupied for nearly a year was common. The building has a dual brand between Marriott’s Residence Inn and AC Hotels properties. They typically maintain separate lobbies, elevators, and reception desks, but the reception desks had been consolidated into the air-conditioned lobby, where the two reception positions served the combined 256 rooms of both brands.

The spacious air-conditioned lobby was packed to the brim with guests working on spreadsheets or video conferencing with headphones, while the frozen pool was covered in fresh snow on the patio.

The hotel was fully booked, and it was no wonder after the morning I had spent trying to find accommodation. Several hotels in the North Dallas / Addison area were shown fully booked, either with guests fleeing frozen houses and compromised pipes or having closed reservations because the properties themselves faced the exact same problems.

Many larger hotels in newer buildings have emergency generators to continue to power the elevators and emergency lighting in case they lose power; sometimes generators can even maintain a certain level of energy throughout the building. Other nearby hotel buildings or essential structures, such as hospitals, can benefit from priority status for those parts of the network.

However, many hotels in the area reported that they were similarly affected by electricity shortages in the region or that they had frozen pipes and therefore had no running water.

I had another wrinkle in my own needs: I needed a hotel that accepted cats as pets. Many properties call themselves “pet friendly” when they really mean “dog friendly”.

Installed in my studio, I began to reflect on the many facets of the hotel industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, travel to conferences and conventions evaporated. Individual bookings were down to a trickle of essential workers and die-hard leisure travelers. The hotels were left empty as potential guests sat in their homes.

Now, a steady stream of climate refugees has revived the abandoned corridors of hotels buried until recently. Business travelers heading to nearby office parks have been supplanted by displaced households doing their best to maintain normalcy in a temporary shelter, a social distancing in warm comfort. The hotel staff until recently on leave or with reduced hours is once again needed and appreciated.

I also found that a hotel room does not solve all problems. Immediate needs were addressed, but the security and warmth of the room did not end the anxiety surrounding the situation.

I could see in my thermostat app on my smartphone that my power was on and my house was slowly heating up for a good chunk of the time I was in the hotel, but there was no way of knowing how long it would last (the state The company utility was, at the time, trying to rotate the outages to different parts of the network). I use a CPAP to sleep, so the prospect of losing energy in the middle of the night was not exactly pleasant.

The length of the interruption is also unknown. Most hotel companies have maximized flexible cancellations for reservations, but in most cases it was still necessary to cancel at least one day in advance to avoid penalties. When would it be necessary to admit that you couldn’t depend on the electricity grid and pay for another night?

He had to continue by faith, but he had reminders that he had made good decisions over the next few days. I had electricity in my house most of the time (and the electricity at the Residence Inn started just as I was packing to leave), but only moments after checking into a nearby DoubleTree by Hilton, near The Galleria (the Residence Inn still it was sold out for additional nights), I received a message that the water in my condo had been shut off for plumbing repairs.

Fortunately, electricity and water have been available at DoubleTree for my entire two-night stay, but the hotel faces other weather difficulties in winter. Supply deliveries have been erratic so no DoubleTree cookies are available (damn). A buffet breakfast was available the first morning, but supply problems intervened, and the second morning only the cafeteria was open.

Protection issues aside, there is excuse for a ray of optimism. It feels good to be in a crowded (socially estranged) lobby again. It’s comforting to know that hospitality professionals who have had an immensely difficult year have returned to their profession, caring for hotels full of paying guests.

Good to know that the hotel industry continues.

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Categories
Impacting Travel

Winter Storm Uri wreaks havoc on travel across the US.

A major winter storm is affecting travel from Texas to the Northeast, causing widespread snow and ice that have led to thousands of flight delays and cancellations over the holiday weekend.

As of Monday morning, airports in East Texas, including Dallas / Fort Worth International and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental, continue to be affected by winter storm Uri, canceling hundreds of flights due to inclement weather. . IAH was even forced to close its airfield.

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines canceled all flights to and from St. Louis on Sunday and scrapped more flights on Monday.

“We canceled the remaining flights on STL today to prevent passengers and aircraft from being stranded as we continue the winter storm that is affecting several of our airports,” the airline said in a statement.

According to flight tracking website FlightAware.com, Chicago, Denver and Nashville airports have also been hit hard by Monday’s winter weather, reporting dozens of flight cancellations. As of 9:30 am ET on Monday, the website reports more than 2,800 flight cancellations across the country.

According to Weather.com. “Freezing rain and sleet will occur just east of the snow area from southern and central Louisiana to the Tennessee Valley and central Appalachians. The ice will make travel dangerous and could also damage trees and cut power in some areas.” .

The storm is expected to end in the Northeast on Tuesday, bringing snow and ice to parts of upstate New York and western and northern New England, but only rain to the busy I-95 corridor.

Major airlines including American, Delta, United, Southwest, Frontier and JetBlue have issued waivers so that passengers in affected areas can avoid travel and get stranded without penalty.

As always, travelers affected by the last winter storm are advised to check the status of their flight with their airline before arriving at the airport and are advised to take more time to get to the airport as the roads can be dangerous.

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Categories
Travel News

Lessons from Los Angeles’ deadly winter

(This article is part of California today newsletter. Register to have it delivered to your inbox.)

Hello.

In the Golden State, the average number of new Covid-19 cases per day over the past week has fallen to 6,641 – not the lowest they have been, but the trajectory is remarkable for the speed at which rates of positivity plummeted, especially compared to the slower flattening of cases after the state’s summer surge.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the drop in the number of cases in California can most likely be attributed to a combination of factors, including generalized behavioral precautions, vaccinations and, ironically, the large number of people who have already had the virus.

[Read more about the factors affecting when the United States could reach herd immunity.]

At the same time, the nation faces another unfathomable milestone: half a million deaths from the coronavirus, just a month after the United States passed 400,000.

Leaders continue to urge caution as dangerous variants of the coronavirus gain a foothold.

And as the vaccine rollout continues, experts have said losing sight of the inequalities that helped propel the winter crisis in California could shape our recovery; Already, early data suggests white Californians are being vaccinated faster than groups that have been hit hardest by the virus.

These inequities were fully visible at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, as my colleague Sheri Fink recently reported in this heartbreaking look at the heart of the Los Angeles outbreak, when hospitals were overwhelmed and hundreds people died.

I asked him what Californians should learn from the hospital spell. Here is our conversation:

At the start of the pandemic, you sent some of the oldest and most painful shipments outside New York hospitals, and you too reported from Houston during summer. What was different about the LA reporting during this wave? How did it compare?

Unfortunately, it was too familiar. The disparities were similar, with a disproportionate impact of the disease among Latinx and black communities and in less affluent areas. Hospitals have once again had to deal with far more critically ill patients than they were designed and staffed to handle, struggling to create space and recruit reinforcements.

The distress among medical service providers was more acute, to say the least. They had run a marathon and they were exhausted and often in disbelief in the denial they see in the community as a whole. Even though there is now more knowledge on how to deal with patients with severe Covid, the level of hospital deaths where I spent over a week reporting was horrendous.

One difference now is that if you’re at a higher risk of progressing to severe Covid-19 – if you’re 65 or older or have certain chronic medical conditions – there is a type of treatment that has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and deaths.

But the catch is, you have to get the monoclonal antibody infusion early, before you need to be hospitalized. It blocks the entry of the virus into cells, and several types have received emergency clearance from the FDA. However, in South Los Angeles where I was reporting, relatively few patients who could benefit appeared to be accessing it.

There were also positive differences: Healthcare providers had the protective equipment they needed to protect themselves. And many of them have been vaccinated against the virus that causes Covid-19.

In history, you spoke to Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of MLK, who expressed frustration that her hospital was overwhelmed, while other large hospitals had fewer patients. But state officials said time and time again during the wave where they worked closely with hospital groups and providers to ease the burden.

Can you explain a little more if or why the hospital has not been able to transfer a sufficient number of patients to larger facilities with better resources?

Even though the outbreak has subsided, MLK has remained at or near the top of the region for the ratio of Covid patients per authorized hospital bed. For this particular hospital, there was little evidence of a leveling of the burden, other than government officials providing National Guard staff and contract nurses.

Dr Batchlor said he personally called other hospitals to try to transfer patients. I was present when government officials told hospital officials that two local hospitals had been staffed to take in patients with surges, but that was after the curve had already bent. MLK doctors said that when they tried to transfer patients they believed needed specialized care to other facilities, they were refused.

In their mind, this had to do with the makeup of their patients’ payers, of whom only 4 percent have commercial insurance. They said it was a long-standing problem that the pandemic only highlighted.

What are you monitoring more closely now, as vaccinations multiply? (I’m thinking of national treatment trends, troubling hot spots, or fairness in vaccine rollout.)

Having reported overseas, I looked at the deployment of vaccines not only in our communities and country, but also in other countries that could not afford to support advanced manufacturing or to purchase much. of global supply.

The lowest income countries have so far had virtually no access to licensed vaccines. If fairness was not a sufficiently important value in and of itself, the virus itself reminds us of the shared fate of humanity.

New strains can emerge wherever they continue to circulate, and some experts say the global economic recovery depends on controlling the virus around the world, and not just in richer countries.

[Read the full story here.]


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley, and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.

Categories
Travel News

Texas Winter Storm: what to know

Lots of people twisted sink handles and got nothing from their faucets. Residents were unable to bathe, wash their hands or use the toilet. In Harris County, which includes Houston, over a million people either had no water or were told to boil it first, and in Austin, the capital, residents were urged to boil water due to a power outage in the city’s largest water treatment facility.

Officials said restoring water service to hospitals was the top priority.

“We never imagined a day when hospitals wouldn’t have water,” said Greg Meszaros, director of Austin Water this week.

Without water and after days of blackouts, many Texans have lost perishables and are struggling to get more.

Many grocery stores have been cleaned up or closed, and food banks are distributing food as quickly as possible.

More than 500 cars lined up on Friday morning at the headquarters of the San Antonio food bank, which hoped to distribute 100,000 pounds of food and water over the weekend. At the site, volunteers and members of the Texas National Guard assessed pallets of bread, peanut butter, cakes, potatoes, onions, watermelon and other fresh produce, preparing food for residents hard hit by power outages.

Texas’ two largest public school districts will be closed for days after the storm and subsequent chaos, officials said, and several other school buildings were damaged, delaying in-person and virtual classes.

The Houston Independent School District, the largest in the state, said it will be closed until Wednesday, when virtual learning resumes, followed by in-person learning on March 1. The Dallas Independent School District, the second largest in the state, will also be closed on Monday and Tuesday, as crews clean up water damage and repair pipes, the district said.

Categories
Travel News

Video: Winter storms delayed delivery of 6 million vaccines, White House says

new video loaded: Winter storms delayed delivery of 6 million vaccines, White House says

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Winter storms delayed delivery of 6 million vaccines, White House says

Andy Slavitt, a White House pandemic adviser, said a backlog of coronavirus vaccine shipments caused by severe winter storms across the country is expected to be delivered next week.

We have a backlog of about six million doses due to weather conditions. All 50 states have been affected. The six million doses represent about three days of delayed shipping. There are three places along the distribution chain that have been affected by the weather conditions. First, FedEx, UPS, and McKesson, our logistics and distribution teams, all faced challenges as workers were caught in snow and unable to get to work to pack and ship vaccines, kits, and thinner required. Second, road closures have delayed vaccine delivery to different points in the distribution process – between manufacturing sites, distribution, and shipping centers. Third, more than 2,000 vaccination sites are located in areas with no power, so they currently cannot receive doses. Due to the constraints of the 72 hour cold chain, we do not want to ship doses to these locations and leave them to sit at a site where they could expire. The vaccines are therefore safe and sound in our factories and centers, ready to be dispatched as soon as time permits. Now that the weather conditions are improving, we are already working to clear this backlog: 1.4 million doses are already in transit today, and we expect all overdue doses to be delivered within the next week. We are asking vaccine delivery sites to further extend their hours of operation, offer additional appointments, and try to postpone vaccinations over the next few days and weeks as the supply arrives significantly.

Recent episodes of Coronavirus pandemic: latest updates

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Categories
Travel News

If winter is feeling very harsh this year, you are not alone

Ms May originally intended to write an exploration of how people endure winters in various cultures and climates, a book the research of which would require travel and interviews.

But then the cold set in. And one kind of wintering became another: her husband fell ill. Ms. May was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and quit her academic job. Their young son began to have emotional difficulties and needed time off for school. In circumstances she would never have chosen, she produced a book that serves as a guide for this moment none of us want to be in.

Having lived through several such painful seasons of life, Ms. May writes that she has learned to survive them in part by treating herself “like a favored child: with kindness and love”. It means patience and self-care – more sleep, more walks, nourishing foods, less pressure to produce and compete.

It also means recognizing the reality that it is incredibly difficult. There are children to care for and vulnerable family members to care for. Those lucky enough to still have a job feel like they are working harder than ever.

Of course, resilience matters. But given the lack of practical support, “we need to understand that emotional resilience might not be enough,” said Brian Hughes, professor at the National University of Ireland in Galway, specializing in stress and crisis psychology. . Evidence from past disasters suggests that people do not weaken psychologically because they do not have enough personal courage, but because they are under too much external pressure.

That the pandemic has forced us to stay apart when we need each other the most doesn’t help either.

“It upsets our instincts about what to do when life gets tough. Where we crave connection and contact, it forces us into isolation and distance, ”wrote journalist Rosie Spinks in a recent essay. “Where we want to keep a physical space for our collective experience, it forces us to deal with things on our own, to detach ourselves from the tangible world and how it helps us to integrate things – even sadness and sadness. loss.

In this space of quiet reflection, the best gift we can give to ourselves or to those we connect with from afar is honesty, writes Ms May: “We need people who recognize that we cannot. always hang on. That sometimes everything breaks. Apart from that, we have to perform those functions for ourselves: give ourselves a break when we need it and be kind. To find our own courage in our time. To remind us that even the coldest winters eventually melt.

Write to us at inherwords@nytimes.com.

In Her Words is available as a newsletter. Sign up here to receive it in your inbox.

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Travel News

Texans are cautioned to beware of winter storm scams.

Texans who are grappling with a winter storm that inflicted massive losses in electricity and natural gas now have something else to worry about: how to avoid a scam.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the operator that manages the flow of electricity to more than 26 million customers, has informed residents a scam circulating on social networks that asks people to send their private account number by text. “Do not do that! We don’t need any of your information to get you back on track – we’re working as fast as possible, ”said ERCOT.

Sure On Wednesday, ERCOT said that 2.7 million Texas households did not have electricity.

The Federal Trade Commission, the government agency that tracks these types of fraud, says crooks surface in almost every case of human suffering, concocting stories of bogus solutions they try to sell to people looking for money, shelter, health or even love.

In 2020, the FTC received nearly 500,000 reports of impostor scams, the most common type of fraud in which a scammer masquerades as a person, or from a government agency or business. .

People reported $ 1.2 billion in losses due to scams last year, with a median loss of $ 850, according to the newspaper. The main categories of scams were related to Covid-19 and stimulus payments, “proving once again that scammers are following the headlines,” the FTC said.

In Texas, those headlines focused on record temperatures from a winter storm that damaged power grid infrastructure and spiked demand.

The FTC suggests that there are several ways to recognize when an unsolicited call or email is a scam. The caller often insists that you act immediately and specify payment methods, such as a gift card or through a money transfer company, or state that there is a problem or a price. They also claim to belong to a known company or organization.

The FTC advises people to block unwanted calls and texts and to avoid providing personal or financial information.

Categories
Travel News

Winter storm disrupts much of US business

UPS said weather conditions could cause delays in areas not directly affected by storms. Packages can take longer to move from one location to another, and many delivery services move goods through large sorting centers in the center of the country to serve both the east and west coasts. UPS’s main air hub is in Louisville, Kentucky, and it also has a hub in Dallas, for example.

The winter storm prompted the United States Postal Service to shut down post offices, processing centers and other facilities in Texas, Alabama and Mississippi, according to its website.

The storm also affected Amazon, which operates its own large logistics network that includes planes, hubs and delivery vans operated by contractors.

“The health and safety of our employees, customers and drivers who deliver packages is our top priority,” Maria Boschetti, a spokesperson, said in a statement. “Out of prudence and to ensure the safety of all, we have closed some of our sites in Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Indiana and Kentucky.”

Some automakers have said they have shut down their operations in order to limit their energy consumption. Ford closed a plant in Claycomo, Missouri near Kansas City, Missouri this week “to make sure we minimize our use of natural gas which is essential for homes,” said a spokeswoman for the ‘business.

The plant produces the F-150 pickup truck, one of the best-selling vehicles in the industry. Ford does not plan to resume normal operations at its closed plant until Monday. The plant employs around 7,300 people. Unionized workers will receive 75 percent of their gross pay for the week.

Nissan closed its four U.S. factories on Monday and canceled morning and afternoon shifts on Tuesday, a spokeswoman said. Two of the factories, in Canton, Miss., And Smyrna, Tennessee, manufacture cars and the other two, both in Decherd, Tennessee, manufacture engines. The company is monitoring the situation to see if it can resume production on Tuesday evening.

Categories
Travel News

Mapping the impact of the winter storm

Brutal cold hung over Texas and the central United States on Tuesday after a massive winter storm swept through the region.






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The storm wreaked havoc in parts of the country that were not used to harsh winter weather. At least 23 people have died in four states, icy roads creating dangerous conditions.

Millions more face freezing cold without heat, as grid operators have been forced to shut off electricity on an ongoing basis to prevent larger power outages.

[For the latest updates, follow our live coverage of the storm.]

In Texas, the hardest-hit state, more than 4.4 million homes and businesses went without power Tuesday morning, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates live electricity data from utilities. Hundreds of thousands of electricity customers in more than a dozen other states were also without power.


Texas experienced widespread power outages after the storm





Percentage of customers without electricity

Percentage of customers without electricity

Percentage of customers without electricity

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Source: PowerOutage.us | Data as of 12:25 p.m. EST.

Controlled power outages began overnight Sunday and Monday in Texas, as the state’s grid operator sought to balance increased demand with a supply shortage.

Just as electricity use has skyrocketed – with Texans looking to combat the cold by increasing their heaters – the state has lost some of its generating capacity. Some natural gas and coal-fired power plants were put out of service by the cold, and the freezing conditions also blocked the wind turbines.

“This is definitely a storm of anomalous anomalies,” said Thomas Overbye, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. “A lot of our thermal power plants, our natural gas plants, are not designed to cope with this type of cold.”

“How well the generation should be prepared for these types of temperatures is something I’m sure we will be looking at very soon,” Mr. Overbye said. But “the key right now is to get as many generations back online as possible.”

Categories
Travel News

Winter conditions have paralyzed the air, travel on the road in much of the south

The massive winter storm that swept through the southern and central states on Monday crippled air, rail and road transport in the region, with severe travel disruptions that are sure to continue through Tuesday as the storm heads towards the North.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport canceled 196 flights on Monday, representing almost all flights to and from the transportation hub, according to the FlightAware tracking website. Austin Airport tweeted on Monday that the teams would remain in place, “mitigating the effects of this historic weather”.

At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, 934 flights were canceled Monday night and nearly 300 more were delayed, according to FlightAware. Airport said on Twitter that further delays and cancellations were expected Tuesday, and urged the public to check their flight status with their airline before heading to the airport.

All rail operations operated by Dallas Area Rapid Transit will be suspended until Thursday, and bus services in the city will be suspended from Monday evening, to resume Tuesday with what will likely be further delays, the system said. public transport. In Houston, the George Bush Intercontinental Airport said the airfield would be closed at least until early Tuesday afternoon.

Nashville International Airport canceled 278 flights on Monday, according to FlightAware, and the airport declared additional delays and cancellations seemed certain on Tuesday. There were fewer flight disruptions at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of the country’s busiest hubs, with just 213 cancellations.

The storm forced road closures in parts of Louisiana, including the Lafayette and Baton Rouge areas, while in Tennessee, authorities closed about 20 roads just south of Nashville, County. of Williamson, due to slippery conditions, according to the Tennessean.

Several Amtrak trains providing service across the country were canceled on Monday, including trains departing from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Saint-Louis to San Antonio and Los Angeles to Chicago.

Authorities in many states have asked people to avoid driving except for absolutely essential trips. “We all see the current situation, I’m not going to calm her down. The next few days are going to be very difficult, ”Justice Lina Hidalgo of Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, said at a press conference Monday afternoon. “Things are likely to get worse before they get better.”