PANDEMIC NEWS UPDATE: Mandating masks; keeping the middle seats empty; astronomy conference goes virtual
By Cat Hofacker|July 15, 2020
Our weekly compendium of coronavirus news
- The House Appropriations Committee yesterday approved a measure that would require passengers and workers to wear masks on public transportation, including aircraft.
- Leaving the middle seat empty on aircraft could reduce risk of contracting covid-19 by about 50%, according to a still-to-be peer reviewed study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that appears on the website medRxiv, which provides preprints of medical research. The author estimated that with the middle seat empty travelers have a 1 in 7,700 chance of transmitting the virus to nearby passengers, and “it is not clear that the risk of getting infected during a flight is any higher than the risk associated with everyday activities during the pandemic.”
- NASA is encouraging space enthusiasts to watch the July 30 launch of its Mars Perseverance rover from home “in the interest of health and safety.” Florida began Phase 2 of reopening in June, in which gatherings of more than 50 people are discouraged, but not prohibited.
- About 8,200 commercial aircraft remain grounded worldwide, down from the approximately 12,500 parked in early June, London-based data firm Cirium reported yesterday. “The surge in narrowbody return-to-service events in early July coincided with moves by several large European carriers to reinstate substantial numbers of intra-region services,” the update reads.
- The American Astronomical Society’s January 2021 meeting will be virtual “based on the continuing outbreak of the coronavirus in Arizona and the rest of the US and its impact on our community’s (in)ability to travel,” organizers said in an email sent out yesterday. Registration costs for the conference, originally scheduled to take place in Phoenix, Arizona, will be “significantly reduced.”
- European airline Ryanair will cut 1,000 flights between Ireland and the United Kingdom in August and September, according to a press release, citing “suppressed demand” from a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all passengers from the European Union.