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Christmas Travel Woes Mount as Omicron Hits Pilots and Attendants

Over 600 flights were cancelled on Friday leaving passengers stranded in numerous cities. There are more cancellations on Saturday.
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Christmas Cancellations

Passengers were stranded on Friday as Omicron Variant Hits Pilots and Flight Attendants.     

Airlines have canceled more than 600 U.S. flights so far Friday, calling off hundreds more scheduled for Saturday, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking site. Some European airlines and rail operators are also grappling with higher rates of illness among employees, in the latest sign of how the rapidly spreading Omicron variant is upending business even in industries with heavily vaccinated workforces.

Cancellations in the U.S. climbed at carriers including United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc., which began pre-emptively cutting flights Thursday. Airlines have rushed to reassign and reroute pilots and planes to cover the flying, in some cases offering additional pay to encourage healthy employees to pick up shifts over the Christmas holiday.

United canceled over 185 mainline flights—10% of what was scheduled Friday—and another 120 on Saturday, according to FlightAware. Delta, which cited both winter weather and the impact of the new variant, said it canceled about 160 of the nearly 3,100 flights it had planned Friday. The airline said it expects upward of 150 cancellations on both Saturday and Sunday.

National Rail advised that late-scheduled Christmas Eve trains were especially in danger of cancellation. Some trains also were canceled Friday because of planned labor strikes affecting some services to Birmingham, Edinburgh and elsewhere, according to rail representatives.

NFL Record Number of Cases 

Also consider The NFL Scaled Back Its Covid Testing. Omicron Keeps Turning Up Anyway.

On Monday Dec. 13, the National Football League broke an unfortunate record: 37 players tested positive for Covid-19. This Monday, that record was broken again: 47 came down with the virus.

The difference between these two Mondays was that, during the week in between, the league took steps to scale back its testing program for players. By ending weekly tests of vaccinated players who show no symptoms, it signaled the inevitability of asymptomatic players with Covid playing football against each other because they might never be tested.

And despite all that, the league still turned up more cases in a single day than ever before—a crystalline indicator of how close the virus came to capsizing this season if the approach to the virus hadn’t changed. From Dec. 13 through this Thursday, 321 players have tested positive in under two weeks. If that seems like a lot, that’s because it is. It represents more than 10% of rosters, or enough to field more than four full teams of players who combine to earn hundreds of millions of dollars. 

While 154 players have tested positive this week, the current paradigm also indicates there are far more people with Covid—those who are asymptomatic. But the league doesn’t see that as a problem. 

Economic Impacts 

Finally , with fewer people dining out and traveling, Omicron Starts to Slow U.S. Economy

The number of diners seated at restaurants nationwide was down 15% in the week ended Dec. 22 from the same period in 2019, a steeper decline than in late November, data from reservations site OpenTable show. U.S. hotel occupancy was at 53.8% for the week ended Dec. 18, slightly below the previous week’s level, according to STR, a global hospitality data and analytics company.

Rising case numbers are leading many businesses to close for a short period, entertainment venues to cancel shows, universities to shift classes online and offices to delay or reverse reopening plans.

CNN President Jeff Zucker on Saturday told staffers the network was closing its offices with the exception of those who need to be there to perform their jobs. Ford Motor Co. , Uber Technologies Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google all delayed office returns recently amid Omicron’s spread.

Bars in New York and Nashville announced temporary closures due to breakthrough infections among staff. A museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago said it would shut its doors for over a month and only offer virtual tours amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Chicago, New York, NFL

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"While 154 players have tested positive this week, the current paradigm also indicates there are far more people with Covid—those who are asymptomatic. But the league doesn’t see that as a problem."

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot insists everyone 5 years and older needs to show proof of vaccination or they cannot dine out, shop, go to gyms, etc.

New York City has vaccine mandates that cover all private workers.

Biden has a vaccine mandate covering all companies with 100 or more employees. 99, no requirement.

Can this hodgepodge of policies possibly all be right?

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