Hikers asked not to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail this year
Hikers hoping to spend 2021 hiking the Appalachian Trail are being asked to postpone their trips until 2022 by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Health officials say that the COVID-19 risk comes not from the hike itself, but the travel to and from trail points across the country.
The ATC is actively discouraging long-distance hiking this year, and says it will not be distributing any AT Hangtags in 2021. Hangtags are plastic tags given to hikers that have registered their thru-hike with the ATC. Distribution of the hangtags helps the agency understand how many hikers are using the trail per year. Hangtags will not be distributed until the CDC has deemed the pandemic "under control," or a vaccine is more widely available to the general population.
ATC President and CEO, Sandra Marra, told CNN that "we're really basing our guidance on the best information we have. The guidance is based on science, on the states and the federal outline as to how we can proceed until everyone is fully vaccinated."
The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking footpath in the world, covering over 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Maine.
Disneyland to be converted to COVID-19 vaccination site
Orange County California officials have announced that Disneyland Resort in Anaheim will be converted into a Point-of-Dispersing site for COVID-19 vaccines. “The Disneyland Resort, the largest employer in the heart of Orange County, has stepped up to host the county’s first Super POD site – undertaking a monumental task in our vaccination distribution process,” said acting Chairman Andrew Do, First District. “We truly appreciate the support of the Orange County Fire Authority, our cities, and our residents as we continue to rollout COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the county.”Known as “Super POD” sites, the five regional Super PODs will have the capacity to vaccinate thousands of residents each day. The Super PODs will increase efficiency and provide multiple vaccine distribution points throughout Orange County. The County will announce additional Super POD sites as agreements are finalized. “I’m proud to have Disneyland Resorts and the City of Anaheim, both in my Fourth District, be the first of the Super POD sites in Orange County,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee. “Residents in my district have been highly impacted by COVID-19. These Super PODs are absolutely critical in stopping this deadly virus.” Vaccine distribution is managed through a phased, tiered approach established by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Currently, vaccinations are available to Orange County residents and those who work in Orange County who meet the criteria for what is referred to as “Phase 1a, all tiers.” This group includes law enforcement first responders in high-risk communities and was recently expanded to include those age 75 and older. We are excited to serve this group as a priority population. The County is working in collaboration with community partners to create a process that reaches seniors close to home and best serves these individuals. “It's important to vaccinate as many willing people as possible for COVID-19, and we need the space to do it,” said Supervisor Donald P. Wagner, Third District. “I thank Disneyland Resort and the City of Anaheim for stepping up in the shared effort to give OC residents protection against the virus.” The first Super POD at the Disneyland Resort will be operational later this week. Most of those eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1a will be contacted through their employer to schedule an appointment via a third-party app developed in cooperation with the County of Orange.“In order to ensure a smooth and effective distribution of the vaccine as quickly as possible, it is so important that Orange County residents have the information they need on who, and when, they are eligible to receive the vaccine, and where they can go to receive it,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District. “We will have several sites across the county, including South County, and information on these locations will be available shortly. Please stay tuned to https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccination-distribution for the latest information on vaccine distribution sites. In the meantime, please remain vigilant and protect you and your loved ones by practicing social distancing, good hygiene and wearing your masks.”
How the largest hotel chains are giving back amid a pandemic
All around the world, hotels and travel companies have been doing what they can to help communities affected by the pandemic and show appreciation for essential workers and healthcare staff working to make a difference in the fight against Covid-19. From familiar hotel brands and B&Bs to wineries and corporate travel companies, here’s a look at some of the ways they’ve helped support small businesses and keep hope alive this year. Hyatt Hyatt has been pretty busy this year, with roughly 60 properties worldwide helping small businesses stay afloat with a new initiative called Hyatt Loves Local. Here in the U.S., Hyatt Regency Atlanta offered complimentary use of its kitchen and lobby spaces to support Anna Bell’s Mac & Cheese, while Andaz West Hollywood let local business Barcode Barbershop take over its rooftop for two months of outdoor haircuts and styling treatments. Other Hyatt hotels, like Motif Seattle and Grand Hyatt Vail, helped community businesses open onsite pop-ups—a mobile coffee cart for Monorail Espresso in Seattle and a pop-up shop for women’s clothing boutique Wild Heart in Vail—while Gild Hall in New York City arranged for BACH Fitness to host socially distant yoga and pilates classes so the company could stay open. Hyatt is also offering a special Friends & Family rate as a way to show appreciation for healthcare workers when they book with promo code THANKYOU on stays now through September 12, 2021. World of Hyatt loyalty program members can also donate Hyatt points toward free stays for healthcare staff and other frontline workers. Hilton Hilton’s approach has been a little different, with many individual properties offering ways to give back in addition to larger-scale corporate efforts made earlier this year, like donating one million rooms to medical professionals, partnering with World Central Kitchen and other worldwide endeavors. Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino is donating $25 per night to one of two local charities when you book a Give Back Aruba package, while a portion of Forest Therapy spa treatments at Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead will go to Trees Atlanta, which supports the conservation and creation of green spaces around the city. In Colorado, The Curtis is donating $5 from every Don’t Eat Yellow Snow package to the Ronald McDonald House of Denver. Just in time for Christmas, three hotels—Conrad New York Downtown, Conrad Washington, D.C. and Conrad Dublin—are partnering with local children’s hospitals to host a “Hotline to the North Pole,” on December 23 and 24, a video conference link letting little ones chat with Santa Claus. Members of Hilton’s loyalty program can aso redeem Hilton Honors points for donations to several charities and nonprofit organizations by linking their account with partner site, PointWorthy. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG Hotels & Resorts) Besides allowing IHG Rewards Club members to donate their IHG points to charitable causes like the American Red Cross, Goodwill and The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, IHG has been doing its part to recognize the efforts of essential workers around the world, awarding complimentary stays to those who deserve it most. One essential worker in the U.K., for instance, was given a surprise trip to the Hotel Indigo Stratford-Upon-Avon after missing her 26th wedding anniversary because the healthcare facility where she worked made her stay there for 12 weeks. Marriott As a way to show appreciation for the brave men and women working on the front lines in the fight against Covid-19, Marriott is offering special rates for Community Caregivers—healthcare workers, first responders and their families—at participating properties within the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. To get the discount, qualified essential workers can book stays by March 31, 2021, and must show valid identification from your medical, government, military or relief organization when they check in. The Copper Door B&B and Rosie’s Pop-Up in Miami While Jamila Ross and Akino West, owners of The Copper Door B&B in Miami’s historic Overtown neighborhood, have been forced to make some adjustments this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic—the B&B’s legendary communal breakfast has since evolved into Rosie’s, a pop-up restaurant where guests can save 20%—they’re still paying it forward. The two hospitality entrepreneurs made headlines earlier this year when they cooked and delivered weekly meals to volunteers at the local World Central Kitchen outpost, Red Rooster, and it’s something they’ve continued to do ever since. Today, The Copper Door B&B is operating at 50% capacity with Covid-safe measures in place while Rosie’s remains open for brunch, serving up Soul Food classics like shrimp & grits and chicken & waffles as well as Italian-inspired dishes like Southern-style polenta and lemon ricotta pancakes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. TripActions Corporate travel and expense management company TripActions found yet another meaningful way to give back to its local community this year. When students in San Francisco neighborhoods hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly found themselves having to attend school from home, many of them without the proper equipment or Wi-Fi access, TripActions’ Head of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Shaka Senghor led the company’s efforts to donate more than 100 laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots and other technology through its partnerships with Hack the Hood, Climb Hire and Burton High School. The donations helped ensure students enrolled in tech training programs would have what they needed to continue their studies, including mentorship opportunities, while students at Burton High School were given the option to have monthly care packages with snacks sent to their homes. Kendall-Jackson Wines Earlier this fall, Sonoma County based winery Kendall-Jackson partnered with United Way Worldwide to create the Grocery Worker’s Relief Fund in an effort to provide up to $250 in cash cards and other pandemic-related emergency assistance via United Way’s 211 crisis services to essential workers currently employed by supermarkets and retail stores with grocery departments. So far, Kendall-Jackson has pledged $200,000 for the first year, committing to $2 million in support through August 2030.
Hawaii launches new remote work program
Hawaii has just launched a new "travel" program focused on remote work from the Hawaiian Islands. The state/private-supported program, "Movers & Shakas” will initially provide 50 FREE roundtrip flights to Oahu to pre-employed people who must stay a minimum of one month. In exchange, they need to give a few hours/week to a nonprofit that fits their skillset. So there is a great volunteer component for those looking to give back while traveling. Additional incentives include discounted rates with hotels, restaurants, etc. Deadline to apply is Dec. 15. The goal of the program is to help boost Hawaii's economy outside of traditional tourism - especially with how dependent/impacted Hawaii is on air travel and recent/new mainland state travel restrictions. Hawaii has one of the lowest COVID-19 rates, so working in a safe environment is another positive. “Working from Hawaii can provide a much needed respite from the isolation and burnout caused by remote work,” said Jason Higa, CEO of FCH Enterprises, parent company of Zippy's and one of the driving forces behind Movers & Shakas. “With the lowest rate per capita of COVID infections in the country, and an abundance of social distancing activities and dining experiences, Hawaii is ideal for those seeking a safe place to work and play.”
Smithsonian museums announce indefinite closures due to COVID-19
The museums are mostly in the Washington DC area. The Smithsonian announced the closures on Thursday, Tweeting: "Due to rising regional and national cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo, will temporarily close to the public starting Monday, Nov. 23. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time." These closures affect the 8 Smithsonian museums in DC that had reopened to the public after the first wave of COVID was flattened. This includes the museums located on the National Mall, as well as the National Zoo.