Air travel can be miserable for people with disabilities, particularly if an airline mishandles, damages or loses their wheelchair in transit. Now, the Biden Administration has proposed tough new standards for how airlines treat and accommodate people in wheelchairs. The proposed rules would make mishandling wheelchairs an automatic violation of the Air Carrier Access Act, allowing federal regulators to more easily hold airlines accountable when a person’s wheelchair is damaged. The rules would also mandate better training and improved practices to ensure that disabled passengers receive safe, dignified and prompt assistance at airports. “There are millions of Americans with disabilities who do not travel by plane because of inadequate airline practices and inadequate government regulation, but now we are setting out to change that,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an announcement outlining the proposed rule. “This new rule would change the way airlines operate to ensure that travelers using wheelchairs can travel safely and with dignity,” Buttigieg added. An estimated 5.5 million Americans use a wheelchair, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said. In 2023, 11,527 wheelchairs and scooters were lost, delayed, damaged or stolen by airlines. Among its provisions, the new rule would require airlines to: Immediately notify passengers of their options if their wheelchair has been mishandled Repair or replace damaged wheelchairs Return a lost wheelchair to the passenger’s final destination…  read on >  read on >

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness aboard a luxury cruise ship that sailed out of San Francisco on Wednesday. More than 150 people on the Queen Victoria, operated by Cunard Cruise Lines, have reported episodes of diarrhea and vomiting since the ship first set sail in early January, the CDC said in its investigation notice. A total of 125 passengers and 25 crew have fallen ill during the course of the voyage. Carrying a total 1,800 passengers and 970 crew members, the ship is next expected to dock in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Monday. The cause of the outbreak remains unclear, the CDC said, but Cunard told the agency that the ship has isolated ill passengers and crew and stepped up cleaning and disinfection efforts. The reported cases are totals for the entire voyage, the CDC noted. “Cunard confirms that a small number of guests had reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness on board Queen Victoria,” Cunard told NBC News. “They immediately activated their enhanced health and safety protocols to ensure the well-being of all guests and crew on board. Measures have been effective,” Cunard added. The ship first left Germany on Jan. 9 and then departed Florida on Jan. 22, according to ship tracker Cruise Mapper, the Associated Press reported. The cruise ends in Australia next month.…  read on >  read on >

Driving at night can be risky business, as a dangerous combination of darkness and the glare of bright lights can make it hard to see the road, but one expert offers some safety tips. “If you have to drive in the evening time and you’re not comfortable, try to stick with roads that you know and make sure you know where you’re going so you don’t have to be looking at street signs, which are harder to see at night,” said Dr. Sumitra Khandelwal, a professor of ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. If you do have to venture out in your car after dark, check your vehicle first, she stressed. “One of the first things to do for nighttime driving has nothing to do with the eyes; it’s to optimize all aspects of driving with your car that allow for better nighttime vision,” Khandelwal explained. A dirty windshield can make starbursts, halos, glares, smearing and streaking more apparent in the dark, so cleaning it is critical for clear vision. Headlights get dirty just as easily, particularly if it rains and mud or water gets splattered on them, so Khandelwal recommends wiping off any dirt or splash marks before you get behind the wheel. Even after cleaning your windshield and headlights, there are plenty of vision issues that can make it difficult for…  read on >  read on >

TUESDAY, Nov. 21, 2023 (HealthDay News) —Traffic, crowds and unforeseen delays and disruptions can turn holiday travel from celebratory to chaos in a flash — especially if you’re prone to anxiety. Being aware of your triggers can help you be ready for any glitches that arise. “Triggers might include uncertainty of traffic, flight delays, being in public places, or seeing friends and family for the holidays,” said Dr. Asim Shah, a professor and executive vice chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Based on your triggers, you can make a plan.” A good plan starts with getting plenty of rest the night before your trip, eating healthy, and avoiding alcohol and drugs, which can make anxiety worse, Shah said in a Baylor news release. He suggests working out before you head out the door, because the endorphins released during exercise help ease anxiety and nervous energy. “Have a plan, distract yourself and reassure yourself that you are safe,” he said. If flying makes you anxious and time permits, take the car instead of a plane, but try to stay off the road during rush hour, Shah suggested. If you are traveling by air, consider booking your trip so you can arrive a day early. Shah also recommends leaving in the morning and having a backup plan in case your…  read on >  read on >

It’s not simple traveling if you have heart disease, but a chronic condition needn’t keep someone from seeing friends and family during the holidays, the American Heart Association (AHA) says. Most people only need to toss a few clothes and essentials into a bag before they hit the road or catch their flight, but not folks who have heart problems, said Dr. Gladys Velarde, a professor of medicine at the University of Florida in Jacksonville. “It’s not always that simple for people who have chronic health conditions that require multiple medications or special medical equipment,” Velarde said in an AHA news release. “There are also considerations for how to maintain your health and not put yourself at increased risk.” But with a little pre-travel prep, people with heart problems can overcome the special challenges they might face while traveling, the AHA says. “Anticipating a big trip can be stressful for many – and stress is not good for your health,” Velarde said. “Every individual’s condition is unique, and you’ll want to tailor your travel plans to your specific needs. By taking a little time now to plan and prepare, you can enjoy your holiday.” AHA tips include: Talk to your doctor or heart specialist about your travel plans and ask them for tips on managing your specific health problems while on the road Carry a…  read on >  read on >

Starting Wed., Aug. 30, travelers to China will no longer need a negative COVID test to enter that country, officials announced Monday. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced the plan in a government news release, marking a big milestone in a country that has enforced strict lockdowns and “zero COVID” policies during the pandemic. This is the latest in changes to policies that have isolated China from the rest of the world. In January, the country ended quarantines for citizens returning from foreign travel and has since expanded the numbers of countries that Chinese citizens could travel to. Prior to December, China had a “zero COVID” policy that included full lockdowns and long quarantines for infected people. Some people were sealed inside their homes with wires and bolts on their doors or trapped inside office buildings. The city of Shanghai locked down its 25 million residents from April to June 2022, providing government food supplies and requiring frequent PCR tests, the Associated Press reported. The restrictions affected the Chinese economy, leading to unemployment and protests in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Nanjing last November. The policies were rescinded abruptly in December, leading to spikes in infections that a U.S. study has found to lead to nearly 2 million deaths, the AP reported. More information The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and…  read on >  read on >