Home Dan's Commentary News Roundup COVID-19 News Roundup 5/12/20: Distancing On A Plane, De Blasio, OU Kosher...

COVID-19 News Roundup 5/12/20: Distancing On A Plane, De Blasio, OU Kosher PSA, True Number Of Deaths, Murder Hornets, Free Eilat Flights, Goodbye $10,000 Bumps, And More

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As our lives are interrupted by a deadly virus, we will keep posting deals to keep everyone’s shelves stocked without needing to leave the house. However as I’ve been doing in the past, I’ll also be keeping readers updated with coronavirus coverage as it disrupts our normal daily routine.

Previous COVID-19 roundups:

I’ve been keeping tabs on the stories below since the last COVID-19 news roundup, so some may be slightly out of date. But I hope you find them interesting and am looking forward to healthy discussion about them in the comments!

Among all the craziness, let’s take a moment to focus on and be thankful for our health and family. Please stay safe, wash your hands, stay home when possible, and use a mask when you need to go out!

While it does seem that the worst is hopefully behind us, as the country opens up we may experience additional deadly waves. There’s a new wave in Wuhan and everyone there will be tested again. In South Korea one man recently infected nearly 80 others. South Korea has experienced previous epidemics and excels at contact tracing, which is something we may need to do in order to avoid a fall resurgence. Let’s take things slowly, act vigilantly, and pray to G-d that all goes well.

Today is the 33rd day of the Omer, a day that commemorates the cessation of the plague that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students some 1,900 years ago. It is said that his students were punished because they didn’t act respectfully towards each other. Our country and our communities can seem hopelessly divided, but let’s make this day about unity and treating each other with respect and may it mark the end of this plague in our days.

Table of Contents

The Last Pre-Coronavirus DDF Trip Report?

DDF member Shliach Mitzvah joined to post a trip report of taking advantage of Delta’s awesome 2 cents per mile promotion to run in the Tel Aviv marathon. He even hacked the promo to make it even more lucrative. COVID-19 caused his late February run to cancelled…and then uncancelled!

You can read through hundreds of trip reports on DDF to help plan your travel once we defeat COVID-19.

DDF Matching Campaigns Have Raised Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars For Coronavirus Victims Families

DDF member Iz has organized several matching campaigns to help raise tens of thousands for COVID-19 victims. You can send him a private message to help sponsor the next campaign.

DDF member Chapshnell has organized all of the campaigns into the Wiki here. You can donate to a worthy cause in that thread.

Don’t Expect Airlines To Provide Space For Social Distancing

Lots of airlines put out press releases over the past few weeks that they would be blocking middle seats in order to provide social distancing.

Their fingers were crossed.

They’ll block middle seats, but only on flights that are empty enough to allow for that. They’ll be more than happy to sell every seat on the plane. And with flight capacity slashed, more flights are going out full.

 

You can always buy an extra seat if you want to guarantee an empty seat next to you by making the first name of the ticket EXTRASEAT with your last name. You’ll even get double your baggage allowance.

In the good news department, United is now saying they will contact passengers 24 hours in advance of flights that are more then 70% occupied and offer them a travel voucher or other flight options should they want to switch.

What Are The True Number Of COVID-19 Deaths?

Are COVID-19 deaths being overcounted? Are they just counting people that would have died anyway?

According to the NY Times and the Economist, they’re actually being undercounted by a long shot. That data is based on looking at total deaths in 2020 during these months compared to deaths in previous years.

For example in NYC from 3/11/20-5/2/20 there were 297%, or about 23,000, more deaths than expected. 18,706 deaths were attributed to COVID-19, but that leaves another 4,300 more deaths than expected.

In the UK from 3/14/20-4/24/20 there were 65%, or about 44,000, more deaths than expected. 29,907 deaths were attributed to COVID-19, but that leaves another 14,500 more deaths than expected.

Dr. Fauci Speaks With The OU About COVID-19

Dr. Fauci spoke with the OU this past Thursday. The full transcript can be found here. I can listen to him talk forever, he has a breadth of knowledge and he tells things as they are.

He gives advice about how we can reopen shuls in the COVID-19 era with the understanding that the religious lifestyle of Orthodox Jews makes us particularly vulnerable. He once again expresses hope that antibodies will mean immunity, but it’s just too early to know that for a fact. And he stresses that you need 2 negative COVID tests to rule out being contagious, and not just an antibody test.

His real worry is a fall rebound. High holidays could be tricky as shuls will be packed just when numbers may pick up again seasonally.

Luckily the same G-d that asked us to pray with a minyan told us to guard our lives carefully. And he doesn’t care about records or streaks:

George W. Bush’s Message Shows That This Didn’t Have To Be Political

I loved this inspiring video from George W Bush:

 

Our response to coronavirus didn’t have to be so divided. Americans have always united in the face of a common enemy…at least initially. The politicization of everything is depressing.

De Blasio’s Tweet Was Anti-Semitic, But We Can Do Better

After a funeral in late April in the Satmar enclave in Williamsburg was too well attended, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted out this message that resonates with 1930s German propaganda:

 

Imagine for just a moment that he would replace the word Jewish with Black or Latino and what the uproar would have been that followed.

The Tweet is anti-Semetic. Period.

Sure, the lack of social distancing at the funeral was unfortunate. As Jews, we’re commended by G-d to be extra diligent in protecting our lives. As DDF member aygart said, “You would think that being at a levaya for someone you supposedly revered who died from this sickness would make the attendees think a little about why they need to be careful to avoid more of the same….When they do not it leads one to question whether they are really there because they revered him or are they there for the event.”

But singling out the entire “Jewish community” for the deeds of one sect in Williamsburg, who aren’t even on Twitter due to lack of smartphones or internet filters (Especially after Twitter killed SMS) is beyond the pale. Calling out over a million Jews in NYC over the action of the few is never going to be OK.

He hasn’t called out lack of social distancing in parks.

Instead, he followed up his Tweet with action, by ticketing hundreds of Jews throughout Brooklyn for not wearing masks, even while handing out masks for free outside of those communities:

 

And his apology was not an apology:

The Lawfare Project is now probing the mayor’s actions.

This WSJ opinion correctly calls out the mayor for looking for a scapegoat for his failings. This NY Times opinion column did the same.

After all, while COVID-19 was spreading across his city, he fired off Tweets like this:

 

Jews have been a convenient scapegoat during a pandemic since the black death. It’s sad but not surprising to see things revert to that again.

The NY Times Channels Its Inner De Blasio

It’s hard for the NY Times to shock anyone with their anti-Israel coverage. But they achieved it last Friday:

 

Is this their next headline?

 

There’s Still So Little We Understand About COVID-19

The WSJ covers just why this pandemic has been so hard to tame, even with 21st century medicine.

Is it a respiratory disease? But why has it affected the brain, kidneys, heart, digestive system, nervous system, and even toes?

Why are people in their 30s dying of strokes? What can be done about the blood clotting that doesn’t respond to blood thinners?

Why do only some people get sick? This Nature article suggests that it really depends on how much viral load goes your way. A cough that sends 10 viral particles your way can be stopped in your throat, while 100 particles might make its way into your lungs and wreak havoc. Older people and those with weaker immune systems may not be able to stop the virus in their throats before it infects their lungs.

Some patients always seem to test positive. Several DDF members report testing positive even months after first testing positive.

It’s rare to see a disease cause such a breadth of strange and severe problems. That’s why many states are opting to err on the side of caution.

Here’s hoping the numbers continue trending downward and that a viable vaccine can be created soon.

“Enormous Evidence” That COVID-19 Came From A Wuhan Lab, Will We Ever See It?

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo says that there’s enormous evidence that COVID-19 came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The lab had been cited previously for safety issues while studying bat coronaviruses.

That comes after the theory that the virus came from a bat at a Wuhan wet market seems like a long-shot as bats were not sold there in that season.

Does that mean a naturally occurring virus studied in the lab infected an employee and spread across the globe from there? Or did the lab make the virus more contagious or lethal beforehand?

President Trump promises a conclusive report about the lab, but somehow I doubt we’ll ever know the real story. After all, the lab has received US funding.

NBC reports that cellphone data shows that the lab had no cellphone activity from 10/7/19-10/24/19 and that a hazardous event may have occurred between 10/6/19-10/11/19.

Is that part of the US proof of enormous evidence of suspicion?

Do you think the virus came from the lab?

The origin won’t change much though. The US needs China and China needs the US. Neither can afford a divorce.

But here’s hoping we don’t have to deal with this:

US Accuses China And Iran Of Attempting To Hack Vaccine Data

The NY Times reports that the FBI and DHS are warning that China and Iran are putting their best hackers on the mission of stealing vaccine research.

It’s a lot easier to copy someone else’s homework than it is to do your own. This certainly isn’t the first time that China has been accused of cyber theft, but the stakes here are huge.

Are Ventilators Being Overused To Treat COVID-19?

COVID-19 causes some people’s oxygen levels to plummet to levels that aren’t normally compatible with life. The typical treatment has been to put the patient on a CPAP or BiPAP and then onto a ventilator, but the wisdom of that approach is being questioned. By keeping patients on CPAP or BiPAP even if their oxygen levels stay low, many complications can be avoided.

Patients on ventilators face many risks and most have had poor outcomes, with reports of up to 88% of COVID-19 patients dying after moving to a ventilator. Those that survive after extended ventilator use face long-term health difficulties.

Of course some people will need a ventilator, but Doctors may wait longer before using them for COVID-19 patients.

Is COVID-19 Causing Increased Miscarriages?

CNBC writes that it appears that COVID-19 is infecting the placenta, causing miscarriages. OBs across the country are reporting higher that average miscarriage rates in all 3 trimesters.

Meanwhile doctors are wondering why men are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, with more time needed for recovery and a higher fatality rate. The LA Times writes that one reason may be that the virus camps out in the testes, which are walled off from the body’s immune system.

COVID-19 Is Taking Kids Lives As Well

While COVID-19 mostly affects older patients, it has affected many younger patients and kids have been affected as well.

Kawasaki disease, a rare inflammatory condition, has shown up in 85 kids with coronavirus. A 5 year old died from it last Thursday in NYC. It proves once again that we have much to learn about COVID-19, the way it works, and who it affects.

More worryingly, the symptoms are showing now up in kids with COVID-19 antibodies, long after they were infected.

 

Governor Cuomo calls this a new chapter in COVID-19, and other states are reporting seeing similar results. After all, some who may say we should lock up the elderly to save the economy may not say that about kids.

Then again, until now Cuomo has been forcing COVID-19 patients back into nursing homes, where thousands have died. Finally he’s telling hospitals to keep them until they test negative and will require nursing home staff to be tested twice a week. Those are things that should have been implemented from the beginning.

The US Punted On Manufacturing N95s 

In January, Michael Bowen noticed skyrocketing orders for his company’s N95 masks. He begged the US government to commit to buying inventory at rock bottom prices before it was too late, but there was nobody home. It’s a sad tale of red tape and indifference.

The early US response to COVID-19 was not good. The CDC blocked private tests in favor of their own COVID-19 test that didn’t work due to contamination. That set the US on a course from which it would take much longer to recover as it would take too long to get enough tests to trace the spread.

The CDC also failed to recommend masks until tens of thousands of Americans died, despite evidence from other countries that masks worked well. Were they afraid of regular Americans buying up masks that hospitals needed? Eventually they got he message out that Americans can use cloth masks that wouldn’t harm the medical supply, but by then too many had died.

President Trump’s ban on traffic from China was timely, but the ban on traffic from Europe was weeks too late to be effective.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Homeland Security says they think the reason for China’s cover-up was to hoard PPE before admitting how bad things would get.

Ohio Antibody Testing Shows COVID-19 Has Been In the State Since January

Ohio announced today that COVID-19 has been spreading in the state since January. Ohio has done a great job shutting things down to avoid local outbreaks.

We’re likely to find out from more states that things started here in January. The lack of availability for early testing is what hurt our response.

Will We See A Vaccine This Year?

Vaccines typically take up to 5 years to create and test. But this vaccine has the backing of tens of billions of dollars from around the world.

Previous guidance has been 12-18 months, but Bloomberg reports that there’s a decent chance we can have a vaccine ready this year.

The WSJ reports that Pfizer hopes to have a vaccine ready this fall as well.

Bill Gates wrote an excellent article about the challenges of making a vaccine. He thinks it can be anywhere from 9 to 24 months, depending on which method pans out. He also writes about how to distribute the vaccine to the world’s 7 billion people, which will be needed to eradicate COVID-19 from the planet.

Nobody Intentionally Drank Fish Tank Cleaner For Chloroquine; Murder Investigation Opens

The big story a couple of months ago was that a man died after ingesting fish tank cleaner, because he was it contained Chloroquine.

The story always seemed odd and indeed, homicide detectives are now investigating his wife for murder. That’s more logical than intentionally drinking fish take cleaner…

Murder Hornets?!? What’s Next?

2020 keeps getting stranger.

Asian giant hornets, also known as murder hornets, are invading Washington state. At 2 inches long, their sting can kill honey bees and people. But the primary concern is that they are devastating for the food supply that counts on honey bees.

 

Japanese honey bees have learned to fight back by cooking the scout hornet. Hopefully US honey bees learn to do the same:

 

Please don’t try this at home:

Will Tesla Move From California To Nevada Or Texas?

Elon Musk has had it with California:

Elon is usually more bark than bite, but he’s feeling pretty unloved by many politicians in California. Will COVID-19 help move Tesla out of the highly taxed and regulated state?

PSA From The OU: Check Packaging Carefully For Kosher Symbols

 

Kosherica Sued Over Pesach Program Refund Policy

I previously wrote about the Eden Roc being sued by a Pesach program for refusing a refund.

Now guests of Kosherica at the Bonaventure Resort are suing the program after being offered only 65% of their money back when the program was cancelled due to COVID-19.

I’m sure more lawsuits will be filed, but my question is will people who experienced Pesach at home be more likely or less likely to go to a program next year?

And what will happen to summer camps if they get cancelled?

Boeing Was Rescued Without Any Bailout Funds

Nikki Haley resigned from Boeing after the company decided to go after bailout funds.

But in the end Boeing was rescued without needing bailout funds. That’s great for taxpayers and great for Boeing, which was reluctant to part with equity.

Market liquidity provided by the coronavirus stimulus meant that Boeing was able to get everything it needed from the capital markets. Combined with airline bailouts, it meant that Boeing would be just fine on their own.

If only the 737MAX would sort itself out so painlessly.

Boeing Is Calling Off Its Deal With Embraer

In response to Airbus buying Bombardier’s commercial aviation unit, Boeing set out to create a joint venture with Embraer to compete in the smaller jet market.

But with the future of aviation up in the air, Boeing called off the deal. Embraer says they will pursue Boeing for damages.

American Now Requiring More Time At The Gate

American has increased the amount of time you’ll need to be at your gate.

American is asking that you be at the gate 30 minutes before departure on domestic flights (up from 15) and 45 minutes before departure on international flights (up from 30).

If you’re not at the gate 15 minutes before departure the gates will be closed and your ticket will be cancelled. Previously they would close the gates and cancel your ticket 10 minutes before departure.

That’s bad news for those who enjoy waiting in the lounge or for people on tight connections.

United Bought High And Sold Low, But They Had Company In Warren Buffett

Airlines like United bought back billions of dollars in stock over the past decade, spending their entire free cash flow on stock repurchasing.

United spent $10 billion buying back their stock at pricing that peaked at $96.

They sold it back at $26.50 per share to raise cash. Ouch. Talk about a poor use of company funds.

But they’re in good company.  Legendary investor Warren Buffett divested Berkshire Hathaway’s investments in the entire airline industry at a massive loss.

How do you make a small fortune investing in airlines? Start with a large fortune!

American CEO Doug Parker Called Out His Former Protégé And United Relented 

I don’t care for Scott Kirby or Doug Parker. As far an I’m concerned, they killed airline loyalty programs all by themselves. They worked their way up from America West to wrecking loyalty programs at USAirways, American, and United.

Doug Parker forced Scott Kirby out at American a few years ago during a succession battle and Mr Kirby is now CEO at United. Mr. Parker had some choice words for Mr. Kirby after United tried to turn full time employees into part time employees.

The CARES Act was designed to prevent airline layoffs and United was trying to use a loophole to take bailout money and trim payroll costs.

After Mr. Parker called him out and United’s unions sued, United relented and backed off their plan.

But United still plans on mass layoffs starting in October. Unless it can wring another bailout from Washington. Mr. Kirby has also threatened to close United hubs, such as LAX, if downsizing is needed. It would be the first hub closure since they dehubbed Cleveland in 2014 after the Continental merger. United pays $1,112,482 monthly to Cleveland through 2027 for the mothballed terminal that Continental built there over 2 decades ago.

American says they won’t close hubs, but they have been shrinking their JFK hub for years. Will it be a victim of COVID-19?

Miles To The Rescue

With travelers staying away from airlines and hotels, the value of their loyalty programs keep them afloat.

Marriott was able to raise liquidity by selling $920MM of points to AMEX and Chase. Hilton sold $1 billion of points to AMEX. Delta and United have considered selling billions of dollars in miles to AMEX and Chase.

The most profitable parts of airlines are their loyalty programs and they keep them afloat during lean times. Hopefully they learn to stop squeezing them or else people will lose interest in them.

Even During COVID-19, You Can Still Count On Fights Aboard Spirit Airlines

A bloody fight on the greyhound of the skies? A packed plane despite people thinking there would be social distancing?

Maybe staying home isn’t so bad after all…

Argentina Bans Flights Until September

Argentina’s COVID-19 response has been strong and rapid, but killing all flights until September was a surprise to many.

The ban includes both domestic and international flights. The big question is, will Argentina’s airlines survive? Will their economy survive?

Air New Zealand Pushes Back Their Nonstop Service To Newark

There are no nonstop flights from NYC to Oceania, but that was supposed to change in October with the launch of Air New Zealand service nonstop between Newark and Auckland.

Alas, COVID-19 came along and Air New Zealand won’t launch the route until late 2021 at the earliest.

Air New Zealand also announced they will permanently end flights to London and Buenos Aires.

The Days Of Getting $10,000 Compensation From United Are Over

United increased their compensation cap for getting bumped to $10,000 after the Dr. Dao incident.

A couple months ago I wrote about a $10,000 payday after taking a downgrade on a flight to Hawaii.

Those days are over thanks to COVID-19 and airlines watching their spending.

The most you can get for a bump is $2,500 and the most you can get for a downgrade is now $1,500.

Coronavirus Makes Anchorage The World’s Busiest Airport

Once upon a time, airports like Anchorage and Gander were busy with frequent flights from airlines that needed somewhere to stop on Transpacific and Transatlantic crossings.

Those days are long gone, but COVID-19 has dropped passenger traffic to a small fraction of what it use to be.

Meanwhile, cargo flights are highly lucrative and Anchorage makes for a great hub for them. That has propelled the airport to be the busiest in the world. At least until things start going back to normal.

 

 

High Unemployment Payments Means People Aren’t Applying For Jobs

The CARES act offered $600 in additional weekly payments on top of regular unemployment payments that vary by state.

As many predicted would happen, NPR reports that stores are having a hard time finding employees willing to work. Why work when you can make more not working?

I’ve heard the same issue from other business owners. It’s hard to attract workers when it means taking a paycut to go back to work.

A Johannesburg Minyan Takes The Place Of So Many

With most shuls across the world closed due to COVID-19, a minyan in an old age home in Jo’burg is filling some large shoes.

People from around the globe have tasked them with saying Kaddish for the dead and naming baby girls. You can add your own names for Kaddish here.

Awesome Flights Over NYC, Airplane Parking Lots, And Disney:

With flight traffic lighter than it’s been in decades, pilots are taking to the sky in private planes to catch some awesome views.

A low approach at the NYC trifecta of Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK, and incredible city views. Turn the resolution up to 4K and enjoy:

 

Victorville is where airplanes go to die. It’s also where they go to idle during a pandemic:

 

You can’t normally fly over Disneyland. That is, until a pandemic closes it. Weird to see how small it is and it surely makes sense why Disney World would be set in Orlando with plenty of land to grow. Also interesting to see the all of unused brand new cars parked at Angel Stadium:

 

Parked American planes in Tulsa:

 

Speaking about cool flights, a 64 year old man accidentally ejected himself from a fighter jet, without a helmet on, when he was looking for something to hold onto.

Luckily, his parachute deployed properly and he avoided this fate:

Amazon Suspends Competing With UPS And Fedex

The WSJ reports that Amazon will pause its Amazon Shipping services in June.

Amazon’s most profitable division, AWS, happened by accident. Amazon needed cloud computing power for its own business and it sold the excess capacity. AWS now subsidizes the retail business.

Everyone figured that Amazon would do the same with shipping. They created their own delivery service and they would sell the excess capacity.

COVID-19 changed lots of business plans and this was no exception. Amazon has been overwhelmed with orders after the shutdown of retail and can’t add any more capacity to its logistics network.

I wouldn’t count Amazon out, but it may take some time before Amazon is confident enough to start selling off excess shipping capacity again.

Federal Reserve Lifts Restrictions On Monthly Transfers From Savings Accounts

The Fed announced that they will temporarily suspend Regulation D that limits transfers from savings accounts to 6 per month, due to the easing of reserve requirements for COVID-19.

Without limits you can keep more money in savings accounts and transfer (or use backup transfers) to checking as needed.

Tourists Are Still Stranded In The Maldives

The NY Times previously wrote about the honeymooning South African couple that was “trapped” in a 5 star resort in the Maldives. (Disclaimer: Non-tznius pictures)

But they’re not the only ones that got left behind.

The Elimelechs from Israel got stuck in the Maldives as did hundreds of others.

I suppose there was worse places to be stranded, but those hotel bills will surely add up.

That’s why I advised people to go home as soon as soon as the pandemic was picking up speed. When airlines stop flying, you may get stuck for a long time.

Statement On COVID-19 From A RollerCoaster Tycoon Park

I have gotten thousands of emails from companies on what they’re doing for COVID-19.

This is the only one worth reading 😉

 

Coronavirus Lockdowns Have Changed The Earth’s Seismic Movements

COVID-19 isn’t just keeping us at home, it’s changing how the planet moves. Seismologists have noticed a considerable drop in vibrations from the Earth’s crust due to the lack of human activity.

So we just need to close California for good to help avoid The Big One. 😉

The 2020 Olympics Have A New Date

The 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo will now be held from July 23-August 8, 2021. That’s good news for religious Jews hoping to make the trek as they’ll be held entirely after the 3 weeks.

Assuming that there’s a working vaccine by then with widespread adoption, I can imagine it being a celebration that the world hasn’t seen in 75 years. Will you try to go?

Can Airbnb Survive COVID-19?

Airbnb is burning through cash and borrowing at expensive rates.

They are laying off 25% of their workforce, though I was pleasantly surprised at the empathetic letter from CEO Brian Chesky.

While hotels promise cleanliness, renters may be slow to return to rentals homes and rooms.

Hosts are discovering the high price they paid by reaping short-term rental money over more stable long-term income.

Cities don’t like the higher rent costs caused by Airbnb.

It’s a whole lot to overcome and it’s no sure thing that Airbnb will successfully navigate the coronavirus crisis or the fallout that follows.

WeWork’s Founder Sues SoftBank For $3 Billion

WeWork’s fall from grace came swiftly. Once valued at $47 Billion, it’s likely worthless today.

SoftBank had offered $3 Billion as part of a deal to oust founder Adam Neumann and buy his shares.

But then COVID-19 happened and the investment looked even more terrible after losing billions in WeWork previously. They backed out and now Mr. Neumann is suing them for it.

Is The Future Of Travel Subsidized?

Sicily is setting aside $595MM to pay for half the airfare cost for future visitors.

With tourism expected to recover slowly, many places that once complained about too many tourists may start paying tourists to come back. Under the plan, visits to museums and historic sites will also be free.

That’s certainly one way to get back tourists. But how will that work if I want to use miles?

Speaking of Sicily, my brother-in-law is an actuary, so I’m now obligated to tell over the only actuary joke that I know.

Q: What is the difference between a English actuary and a Sicilian actuary?
A: An English actuary can tell you how many people are going to die next year. A Sicilian actuary can give you their names…

Eilat’s Ice Mall Will Fly You From Tel Aviv For Free

If you spend NIS 1,000 at Eilat’s Ice Mall they will refund your round-trip plane ticket from Tel Aviv. You can combine your receipts from mall activities, shops, and even the mehadrin restaurants at the mall.

Caveat: The offer is only valid from May 11-21 and you’ll need to do the mall spending on the day you arrive.

Earn Miles For Staying At Home

Thai Airways came up with a creative way to stay engaged with its members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They will award miles based on how long you stay at home, using your smartphone to track you.

It’s creepy, but hey, free miles!

Work From Home Order May Cost NY A Fortune

With commuters from CT, NJ, and PA working from home, NY may lose out on a fortune in tax revenue.

That’s due to a quirk in NY’s tax law that doesn’t require NY income taxes when you have to work from home out of necessity. Clearly they didn’t craft the law with a pandemic in mind.

No worries though, NY will make it up by taxing volunteer healthcare workers that flocked to NY during its time of need with confiscatory NY taxes.

Belgium: Eat More Fries

It’s not every day that you’re told to eat more fries. But with too many potatoes to go around, that’s exactly what Belgians are being told to do.

I’m good on a potato front, but if Belgium also has too much chocolate, I’d be happy to take some off their hands!

With Nobody Buying Cars, They’re Parked At Sea

There are football fields of new cars parked at sea.

With people staying home and the global economy hanging in the balance, I’m guessing there are going to be some really good deals on cars over the coming months!

You Can Now Be Anybody With Zoom

Ever wanted to be an Einstein? You can now become the Mona Lisa or anyone else with a new tool for Zoom!

If you try it, let us know how it looks!

A Behind The Scenes Look At Chicago O’Hare

A fascinating look at an airport during COVID-19:

Tour The Best Of Amsterdam On YouTube

KLM has a neat 8D video on Keukenhof, which was one of the highlights of our trip. Put on a pair of headphones to listen in 8D:

 

https://youtu.be/p0XKGOa8SfM

 

Another highlight is the Van Gogh Museum:

 

A year ago I flew DeltaOne Suites to Amsterdam, though it feels like it’s been years thanks to COVID-19.

Where will you travel when things return to normal?


What are your thoughts on these stories and what other COVID-19 articles caught your eye?

Leave a Reply

66 Comments On "COVID-19 News Roundup 5/12/20: Distancing On A Plane, De Blasio, OU Kosher PSA, True Number Of Deaths, Murder Hornets, Free Eilat Flights, Goodbye $10,000 Bumps, And More"

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Liz

Wow Dan, you’ve been busy!

Shliach Mitzvah

Great write up and Thanks for the plug 🙂

Abraham

Love this. Thanks! Keep it up @Dan

YoniPDX

If Hertz doesn’t get bailed you’ll 500K used cars will flood the used car market. This will likely change insurance premiums as well as more vehicles will be totaled, rather than repaired as the glut of vehicles will drive resell market value on a lot of vehicles down precipitously.

Likely this will also have and impact on new vehicles prices and deal as rental market has been a percentage of new vehicle sales.

Less business and leisure travel, and no bailout for rental car industry could compound the problem – with so many rentals being driven by flights. One saving grace is that more people say they will rent and or drive personal vehicles over using ride share exiting COVID19 crisis.

ON the flip side its will be a good time to buy a vehicle if you will be in the market in the future. I remember the deals on cars post 9-11 and during the great recession.

YoniPDX

Would love to see the data on all the people interviewed or polled “saying that its too soon to open” if they are making more not working with the $600 Federal unemployment boost, than they actually did working.

Peerim

I want the 4D experience of the coffee shops in Amsterdam.
Is that included in the tour?

TravelBloggerBuzz

Wow, so many of my links appear here!

Eli

I’m on fight from San Francisco to Newark no coffee or tea or ice in first class

Number of Deaths

It’s possible the number of deaths is more then expected not ecause people died from covid. (The unaccounted cases.) Rather they died from not having enough care. In SNFs that have an outbreak they are understaffed and they dont check on the patients as much as they usually do. Patients can die from the loneliness and lack of care.

Shmoogrr

Avianca & Miami air closed down as well

rob

The # of deaths being higher than expected is likely due in large part to downstream effects of the COVID lockdown.

People confuse a pause on “elective procedures” as a pause on “nonessential procedures”, as if people just can’t get a face lift.

In reality, a lot of people are missing sessions on dialysis, chemo and other critical procedures that are normal parts of our society during regular times.

Plus unfortunately there will likely be a large surge in suicides and ODs, as those are strongly correlated with sharp economic downturns.

Yisroel

Exceptionally well done, Dan! You’re a voice of reason through the murkiness out there, and your focus on FACTS as they stand and not what we would like facts to be is beautiful to see. Thank you!

gemarakop

not only did they “punt” with n95s they added to their complete incompetence by sending the fbi after anyone who was competent enough them in. Now no one in their right mind will even bother.

Andy

I’m frustrated the experts still claim we know so little about Covid 19. I’m a veterinarian and we have two very similar corona viruses in swine that have been researched extensively and we have been treating for years. They are called TGE and PED virus. They both are extremely contagious in pigs. The viruses affect the digestive, respiratory, nervous and cardiovascular systems very similar to Covid19. The adult swine will often have subclinical carriers just like Covid 19. The one major difference is the swine virus are most severe on the babies. It’ll sometimes approach 100% mortality in pigs less than 2 weeks old. When we see these viruses we treat the herd by intentionally infecting the adults. The adults rarely have long term issues but they develop a strong immunity. The virus quickly goes away once the herd immunity sets in. Social distancing is ineffective in pigs during an outbreak since the virus is so contagious. Almost everything reported about Covid 19 is Identical to what we see in pigs. Dr Fauci and the other experts could learn a lot by consulting with some veterinary experts more. The fact that 66% of the cases in New York came from people at home is not surprising. Herd immunity among the healthy individuals is key.

Mendy

I keep seeing reports of the flood of cars sitting not being sold and the great deals that one can get on a new car

I’ve been to the dealership Twice and even after negotiations have not been given a good deal

Oh well, either I’m doing something wrong or dealerships are still giving a shot at making the most money before the need to actually lower prices

Tony c

It depends what brand. Some are hot. Some are not. What you going for?

Liam K. Nuj

The issue I have with Mayor De Blasio’s statement is not that it reveals him as a person with an anti-semitic streak in him. I don’t believe that to be true. He probably honestly misspoke.
But as mayor, his words carry tremendous weight, even words whose meaning and message may have been not the intention. And, quite likely, the antisemitic thoughts likely already existed in many of haters’ minds.
So the real problem is not that he put anti-semitic thoughts into people’s minds.
No, he did something far worse:
He made it Kosher.

Glushtygiz

And theres a reason that under his watch the anti semitism is at record breaking all time highs in ny. No need for einstein here

Ploiny

I guess that means the rise in anti semitism in the united states as a whole must therefore be attributed to Trump?

Gaby

@Dan took me over 2 hours to read and watch through this post. Too much for one night
please give it to us more often

Too long

Me too. But worth watching the videos

Dave

Any advice on buying a house now?

Gaby

Or an airplane? Maybe an airline lol

danfan

you’re in the drivers seat – hold out for better terms…

Bery Tirnauer

Thanks for the refreshing mix of articles.
If I may ask, you write “The most profitable parts of airlines are their loyalty programs and they keep them afloat during lean times. Hopefully they learn to stop squeezing them or else people will lose interest in them.”
How exactly is the loyalty program profitable?

RN

Just to disagree with one point of yours, Dan, I don’t think the best alternative to bringing coronavirus patients into nursing homes is keeping them in the hospital until they test negative. For some patients, that can be many weeks later, while they remain asymptomatic, medically stable, yet continue testing positive. This occupies hospital beds that are needed for sick, unstable patients. The best solution has been tried I think in Massachusetts, where some nursing homes are designated covid positive, and are the only ones to take these patients. These homes should ideally be reimbursed at a higher rate, and should pay their staff more as well. This protects the elderly, vulnerable patients at homes with no positive cases.
I also disagree with the reader that life saving treatments are not being performed now. At least in NJ, where I live, patients continue getting dialysis (those who are positive have to switch dialysis sites temporarily) and outpatient infusion centers are open for chemotherapy and blood transfusions etc.

Interested Party

Meanwhile in Ohio your power bills are going up to payout hedge funds that bought FirstEnergy Solutions’ debt last year:
https://www.cleveland.com/open/2020/05/with-ohio-bailout-law-secured-firstenergy-solutions-successor-moves-to-increase-share-buybacks-by-300-million.html

Yisroel

BTW the aircraft flying over newark is an rv8 homebuilt, i’m surprised they let him get so close.

joe

hey dan,
I dont want to be bothersome here but i figured id give you a heads up. The roundup titled “Tourists Are Still Stranded In The Maldives” you put a link to a new york times article that has has some not tzniyus pictures. I assume there are many frum people reading your posts so i figured id mention this may be something of concern. Anyways great stuff and thanks for posting all these roundups!

Voice of Reason

JetBlue just extended my mosaic Status until 12/31/21 even though I’m barely halfway there with points.

Zesty

Wow! Loved this write up!
Such a pleasure to read.
@dan time to make ‘danreports’.
I bet you will begin to compete with drudge if you keep doing this more often.
I love the way you seamlessly summarize the gist of each article and have the link attached.
You should have votes on which articles your audience want follow ups on.

John

Hi Dan, was wondering about the cash app post posted on May 7, they advertise for $1 off at coffee shops and Lyft, do you know if that’s a constant deal or just one of the boosts that come from time to time?

Buying house

I also wanted to know about buying house now. We’re under contract from before corona but now wondering with economy if perhaps it’s not best time to buy or maybe we can handle for better deal? What about mortgage interest rates? Are they lower now? So if we locked in rates with bank, can we maybe get lower rates now?

Dave

You could always refinance

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