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 The policies were rescinded abruptly in December, leading to spikes in infections that a U.S. study has found to lead to nearly 2 million deaths, the AP reported.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 >

Airlines will now be required to make bathrooms on their planes more accessible for the disabled, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Wednesday. The new rule, authorized under the Air Carrier Access Act, requires airlines to make lavatories on any new single-aisle aircraft large enough to allow a passenger with a disability and an attendant to maneuver within the aircraft’s lavatory. “Traveling can be stressful enough without worrying about being able to access a restroom; yet today, millions of wheelchair users are forced to choose between dehydrating themselves before boarding a plane or avoiding air travel altogether,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an agency news release. “We are proud to announce this rule that will make airplane bathrooms larger and more accessible, ensuring travelers in wheelchairs are afforded the same access and dignity as the rest of the traveling public.” Other new DOT measures that aim to increase disabled access in transportation will: Modernize airport terminals, including adding wheelchair ramps and accessible restrooms. Fund programs to improve access in train and subway stations so people who use wheelchairs, push strollers or can’t easily navigate stairs can reliably use the rail systems in their communities. Lay the groundwork for a future rule that would allow passengers to stay in their own wheelchairs when they fly. Call for better training of airline staff who assist…  read on >  read on >

More than 7,500 people were killed last year after being struck by vehicles while walking along or across U.S. roadways — the most pedestrian deaths in more than four decades, according to a new report. This sobering trend was not surprising to experts who track the numbers. But they were dismayed by the consistent increase — up 77% since 2010. “This is unacceptable. It’s really mind-boggling. It hard to wrap your head around, at least it’s hard for me to wrap my head, 20 deaths every single day,” said Adam Snider, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), which reported state-by-state numbers this week. “And then when you think about how many people each single death affects: family members, neighbors, friends, mentors, pastors, how many other people we touch in our daily lives,” Snider said. “To think of all those ripple effects, I’m sometimes at a loss for words, just with how unfortunate and awful the situation is.” While pedestrian deaths have been rising sharply over the past dozen years, other traffic-related deaths also increased but at a lower 25%. GHSA used data from state highway safety offices in 49 states and Washington, D.C., for its report. Oklahoma did not provide state data, but has averaged 92 deaths annually in recent years. The projected 7,508 pedestrian deaths nationwide last year was up 1%…  read on >  read on >

A bout of traveler’s diarrhea can really put a damper on your vacation. Here, experts break down what traveler’s diarrhea is, including its causes, symptoms and treatment, so you can get back to enjoying your trip as quickly as possible. What is traveler’s diarrhea? Put simply, traveler’s diarrhea is frequent, loose, watery stools that occur after travel to an area with poor public hygiene. Unfortunately, it is the most common illness among travelers, according to Johns Hopkins University. Traveler’s diarrhea causes and risk factors Although traveler’s diarrhea could be the result of stress from traveling or a change in diet, it is usually caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. According to the Mayo Clinic, you typically contract traveler’s diarrhea after ingesting food or water contaminated with germs from feces. People that are local to the area have often developed an immunity to the bacteria and are unaffected. Traveler’s diarrhea symptoms The Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms: Abrupt onset of three or more loose watery stools in a day Urgent need to defecate Abdominal cramps Nausea Vomiting Fever Severe symptoms indicate you should see a doctor; these include: Diarrhea lasting longer than two days Dehydration Severe abdominal or rectal pain Black or bloody stools Fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit In children, traveler’s diarrhea can cause severe dehydration in a relatively short time; call your child’s…  read on >  read on >

Consider yourself a lifesaver if you opt for an electric vehicle next time you buy or lease a new car. Electric cars can save millions of lives and reduce health care costs by improving air quality so people can breathe better and freer, according to a new report by the American Lung Association. Zero-emission electric vehicles don’t emit exhaust gas or other pollutants into the atmosphere. Instead of gasoline, these vehicles are powered by batteries that can be charged at charging stations. If all new cars, pick-up trucks, and SUVs sold by 2035 were zero-emission, there would be up to 89,300 fewer premature deaths, 2 million fewer asthma attacks, 10.7 million fewer lost workdays, and a savings of $978 billion in public health benefits across the United States by 2050, according to lung association projections. “Transportation is a leading source of air pollution and climate change pollution, and we will continue to have challenges meeting clean air standards until we transition passenger vehicle sales to zero-emission,” said report author Will Barrett, senior director for clean air advocacy at the American Lung Association. The new report also projects that the nation’s electric grid will be powered by clean energy instead of fossil fuels by 2035. This grid produces electricity via renewable energy generators, such as off-shore wind, land-based wind, hydropower, solar power and other sources. “The…  read on >  read on >

Travelers to the United States will now only need a single bivalent COVID vaccine from either Pfizer or Moderna to enter the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. The loosening of vaccination requirements for foreign travelers comes as many other countries have already done so. “Because some traveler vaccine records might not specify whether recent Moderna or Pfizer doses received were bivalent, CDC will consider anybody with record of a single dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine issued on or after August 16, 2022, to meet the requirements,” because that was when bivalent vaccines first became available, the agency said in an update to its website. Earlier this month, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed the vaccine schedule so that unvaccinated Americans could be considered fully vaccinated with just get one dose of bivalent vaccine instead of the earlier versions, CBS News reported. Another federal agency, the U.S.Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, announced that healthcare workers would be considered “fully vaccinated” with the one bivalent dose. Travel industry officials have said they expected the vaccination requirement to be allowed to expire altogether, CBS News reported. At this point, the Transportation Security Administration has renewed the requirement through May 11. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said there was no update on…  read on >  read on >