‘Virtually entire White Sox traveling party’ receives COVID-19 vaccine


Thursday was a pretty good day for the White Sox.

With the team playing in front of home fans for the first time since 2019, Lance Lynn threw a complete-game shutout and Yermin Mercedes continued his journey to becoming a cult hero by blasting a 485-foot home run.

And those might not be the only reasons the Sox will view that day so fondly.

Before their 4-3, 10-inning loss Sunday to the Royals, the Sox announced that ‘‘virtually the entire White Sox traveling party’’ received a COVID-19 vaccine after the home opener Thursday. The optional vaccines were the one-time Johnson & Johnson version and were administered at the ballpark.

General manager Rick Hahn said more than 90% of the traveling party was vaccinated. At this point, the Sox haven’t reached the 85% threshold because they haven’t been able to offer vaccines to all of their players and staff at their alternate site in Schaumburg. The 85% mark is important because when a team reaches it, Major League Baseball will relax safety protocols for that club.

Hahn, however, said he anticipates surpassing that level when the Sox get more access to vaccines.

‘‘We are thrilled with where we are at,’’ said Hahn, who thanked the city of Chicago, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center.

Hahn and manager Tony La Russa sounded especially happy about how much the team bought in to getting vaccinated. While acknowledging the obvious individual benefits, Hahn said it goes beyond that. He said it sends a great message to the community and a great message about being a good teammate.

La Russa, who received a vaccine before the start of spring training, didn’t go player-to-player talking about the vaccines, leaving it instead to medical professionals to inform the team.

‘‘It’s an independent decision times 26 or 40, but I do know that they got a lot of information,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘It’s a big issue. It’s not something that you decide on lightly. But there’s a lot of community in what the final outcome was, which is good for us.’’

Infielder Danny Mendick said he was one of the players who was vaccinated. He said he did it for the team, his family and everybody around him.

Mendick admitted he felt ‘‘a little crummy’’ Friday after getting inoculated, but that seemed a small price to pay for peace of mind. The Sox scheduled the vaccinations around their off-day Friday and had another day to recover when their game Saturday was postponed because of rain.

‘‘I think it’s pretty cool to see that all the guys pretty much went in there and got the vaccine for everybody else, you know what I mean?’’ Mendick said. ‘‘It helps for families, for road trips and different things like that. It shows that everyone has bought in. We’ve got a 162-game season, so it’s great to get it started like this.’’

The news doesn’t mean the Sox are completely free of COVID-19 concerns. The pandemic is still a part of everybody’s lives and requires precautions. The inoculations, however, will lower Hahn’s worries about the coronavirus infiltrating the Sox’ clubhouse.

‘‘Quite frankly, one of the strong benefits of the participation [in] the vaccination program is that when my phone rings and it’s [athletic trainer] James Kruk on the other end, it’s more likely to be an actual baseball injury than it is something COVID-related,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘Having dealt all of last summer and spring this year with that risk, I would say that there’s actually a little bit of comfort spending our time talking about hamstrings instead of a pandemic.’’



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Most of White Sox traveling party gets COVID-19 vaccine | Buffalo Sports


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Most of White Sox traveling party gets COVID-19 vaccine


More than 90% of the traveling party for the Chicago White Sox got the COVID-19 vaccine after their home opener, moving the team closer to meeting Major League Baseball’s threshold for relaxing some of the protocols put in place for the pandemic.

Showing an unusual amount of transparency for the sport, the White Sox announced the step before Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals. The team said in a release that “virtually the entire” traveling party had received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and general manager Rick Hahn put the number at “well in excess of 90%.”

“We got to an extraordinarily high percentage of those eligible participating and we couldn’t be happier with that,” Hahn said.

In its release, the team thanked the city, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center for their help with the vaccinations.

Major League Baseball and the players’ association sent a memo to players and staff last month that said some of the sport’s coronavirus-related restrictions would be eliminated once 85% of the team’s major league players and primary field staff are vaccinated. The memo said players and staff are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the one-dose vaccine.

While the White Sox got most of their traveling party vaccinated on Thursday, Hahn said they haven’t met the 85% threshold because it also includes players and staff at the club’s alternate site in Schaumburg. But he thinks the organization will reach 85% “in the coming weeks.”

In the meantime, under MLB protocols, there are individual benefits to the vaccine for players and staff. Fully vaccinated people who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 do not have to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms.

“I think it’s pretty cool to see that all the guys pretty much went in there and got the vaccine for everybody else,” said shortstop Danny Mendick, a vaccinated player. “You know what I mean? It helps for families, for road trips and different things like that. It shows that everyone has bought in.”

For Hahn, the team’s vaccination program had at least one benefit very specific to his job.

“When my phone rings and it’s (head athletic trainer) James Kruk on the other end, it’s more likely to be an actual baseball injury than it is something COVID-related, having dealt with all of last summer and spring this year with that risk,” Hahn said. “I would say that there’s actually a little bit of comfort in spending our time talking about hamstrings instead of the pandemic.”

___

Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap





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Most of White Sox traveling party gets COVID-19 vaccine


CHICAGO (AP) — More than 90% of the traveling party for the Chicago White Sox got the COVID-19 vaccine after their home opener, moving the team closer to meeting Major League Baseball’s threshold for relaxing some of the protocols put in place for the pandemic.

Showing an unusual amount of transparency for the sport, the White Sox announced the step before Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals. The team said in a release that “virtually the entire” traveling party had received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and general manager Rick Hahn put the number at “well in excess of 90%.”

“We got to an extraordinarily high percentage of those eligible participating and we couldn’t be happier with that,” Hahn said.

In its release, the team thanked the city, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center for their help with the vaccinations.

Major League Baseball and the players’ association sent a memo to players and staff last month that said some of the sport’s coronavirus-related restrictions would be eliminated once 85% of the team’s major league players and primary field staff are vaccinated. The memo said players and staff are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the one-dose vaccine.

While the White Sox got most of their traveling party vaccinated on Thursday, Hahn said they haven’t met the 85% threshold because it also includes players and staff at the club’s alternate site in Schaumburg. But he thinks the organization will reach 85% “in the coming weeks.”

In the meantime, under MLB protocols, there are individual benefits to the vaccine for players and staff. Fully vaccinated people who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 do not have to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms.

“I think it’s pretty cool to see that all the guys pretty much went in there and got the vaccine for everybody else,” said shortstop Danny Mendick, a vaccinated player. “You know what I mean? It helps for families, for road trips and different things like that. It shows that everyone has bought in.”

For Hahn, the team’s vaccination program had at least one benefit very specific to his job.

“When my phone rings and it’s (head athletic trainer) James Kruk on the other end, it’s more likely to be an actual baseball injury than it is something COVID-related, having dealt with all of last summer and spring this year with that risk,” Hahn said. “I would say that there’s actually a little bit of comfort in spending our time talking about hamstrings instead of the pandemic.”

___

Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Travel tip: New Mexico’s White Sands now a national park


Travelers who like to visit America’s national parks now have an added destination — White Sands National Park near Alamogordo, N.M. Previously a national monument, the world’s largest gypsum dunes area — covering 275 square miles — was designated the nation’s 62nd national park on Dec. 20, 2019.

Visitors will find hiking, cycling and sledding opportunities, along with a visitor center, nature programs, native plants garden and small back-country, primitive campground (permit required). White Sands also has the world’s largest collection of Ice Age fossilized footprints.

Winter temperatures average 30-60 degrees F; summer temps can top 100 degrees. Spring days are often windy, and white-out conditions can result from blowing sand and dust.

Details: nps.gov

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Categories:
Lifestyles | Travel





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Biden could visit storm-ravaged Texas ‘as soon as this week,’ White House says


President Biden could travel to Texas “as soon as this week” to review the damage from the devastating power outages and freezing temperatures there, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday.

Psaki said the president has been getting constant updates from his Federal Emergency Management Agency chief and is “eager” to show his support for the Lone Star State.

WARMER TEMPERATURES BRING WELCOME RELIEF TO TEXAS AND SOUTHERN STATES AS RECOVERY BEGINS

“But he’s also very mindful of the fact that it’s not a light footprint for a president to travel to a disaster area. He does not want to take away resources or attention,” Psaki said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

“And we’re going to do that at an appropriate time in coordination with people on the ground. Could be as soon as this week,” she said.

Biden signed a major disaster declaration on Saturday that unlocked federal funds for residents of weather-ravaged Texas.

But ABC’s Jon Karl noted that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott characterized the aid as a “partial” solution because it only included 77 of the state’s 254 counties and that Abbott wanted the assistance to cover all of Texas.

Karl asked Psaki about the issue.

“What happens here is the governor requested a federal disaster declaration. The president asked his team to expedite that,” the spokeswoman said. “And FEMA determined where the counties should be — where it should focus the immediate resources, where the counties that are hardest hit so that they can make sure they get to the people in most need.”

Psaki said the federal aid was intended not only to take care of the emergency but also to continue through the recovery.

“People who don’t have water, don’t have heating, need a place to stay for a while, that’s what that major disaster declaration will help address, or that’s our hope,” she said.

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A recent winter storm that brought freezing temperatures and snow and ice to Texas was compounded by widespread electric outages after the state’s power grid failed, leaving thousands without heat and water and causing billions of dollars in damages.

At least 70 people died in the south because of the storms, with the majority of the deaths happening in Texas.

To read more from The New York Post, click here.





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Travel Leaders React To White House Meeting With Airlines


Travel leaders say they support all efforts to rid the world of the coronavirus pandemic – except for a mandate that would require airline passengers to present a negative COVID-19 test before flying.

The CEOs of American, United, Southwest, Alaska and JetBlue airlines met with White House officials on Friday in a virtual meeting to discuss the proposal, and all of them – as well as key industry figures – say such a mandate would do more harm than good for U.S. carriers.

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“We had a very positive, constructive conversation focused on our shared commitment to science-based policies as we work together to end the pandemic, restore air travel and lead our nation toward recovery,” Nick Calio, head of the trade group Airlines for America, said in a statement.

The meeting was arranged after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that such a testing requirement was under consideration.

The Southwest Airlines pilots’ union said a testing mandate “would decimate domestic air travel demand, put aviation jobs at risk, and create serious unintended consequences.”

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said the high cost and low availability of testing make a domestic testing mandate a challenging concept to put into practice.

“Based on January 2021 data, a testing requirement for domestic air travel would necessitate a 42 percent increase in daily testing capacity nationwide—a substantial use of testing resources when air travel has already been shown to be safer than many other routine activities,” Dow said. “The recent implementation of a mask mandate adds another enforceable layer of health and safety protection to the travel process. Scientific studies have shown that air travel can be safe as long as everyone carefully follows best health practices—wear a mask, practice physical distancing whenever possible, wash hands frequently and stay home if you are sick. We are also encouraging Americans to get the COVID vaccine as soon as it is available to them. These are the messages the travel industry has emphasized as part of our firm commitment to a layered approach to healthy and safe travel, and we will continue to do so.”

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky asking the agency to “immediately issue guidance to the traveling public. The CDC’s numerous orders intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have created confusion, uncertainty and unpredictability, a chilling effect on future bookings and innumerable other challenges for our travel agency members.”

Jenny Cagle, owner of Elm Grove Travel in Elm Grove, Wisc., also said she believes there is no need for a mandate.

“I am hopeful that this administration has heard the very well-articulated concerns of the travel industry and will choose to navigate the pandemic without a domestic travel mandate.”





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White House warns immigrants against travel as new Border Patrol numbers show arrivals are edging upwards


A controversial immigration policy left over from the Trump presidency has resulted in immigrants being quickly removed from the U.S. more than 450,000 times since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, and the White House is warning migrants that they should not travel to the U.S.

And the number of migrant families caught at the southern border rose to 7,260 in January from an average of about 4,500 in the first three months of this fiscal year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported on Wednesday night.

Both figures highlight the policy dilemma now before the Biden administration as it tries to reverse some of the measures made by the Trump administration. If the Biden team changes policies too quickly, it could result in a fresh spike of desperate immigrants and asylum-seekers like 2019.

“Now is not the time to come,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Wednesday news conference. “The vast majority of people will be turned away. Asylum processes at the border will not occur immediately.”

For now, migrants seeking asylum will still face the same hurdles put in place by the Trump administration. About 28,000 were waiting in Mexico for their day in immigration court under former President Donald Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols, commonly known as Remain in Mexico. In Matamoros, across from Brownsville, about 1,000 asylum seekers have lived there for months, some for more than a year in a squalid tent camp.

Rapid expulsions

Under Title 42, the removals are known as expulsions and aren’t considered deportations, which would allow an immigrant to make a case to stay in the U.S. before an immigration judge. The Trump administration said the emergency measures were needed to protect the health of U.S. citizens and of the migrants who couldn’t be socially distanced in the tight confines of Border Patrol holding areas.

At the ACLU, which sued the Trump administration numerous times over its policies, attorney Lee Gelernt urged the Biden administration to make a strong pivot against rapid returns.

“While we recognize that the Biden administration has been saddled with a lot of bad policy and structural problems, it cannot continue the Trump administration practice of turning away people in danger based on illegal policies, such as the notorious and pretextual Title 42 policy.”

Critics of Title 42 have noted that while unauthorized immigrants and asylum seekers are being routinely rounded up and expelled at the border under Title 42, an emergency pandemic order named for its place in the federal code, routine trade and medical traffic has continued at U.S,-Mexico checkpoints.

Medical and human rights groups have pushed back hard on the targeted use of the measures and say people can be screened for COVID-19 like others who move across the border.

They also say Title 42′s use end-runs the due process of the U.S. immigration court system. And many people expelled by Title 42 are also believed to be immediately attempting new crossings into the U.S.

“It really shows the urgency of doing away with the policies Trump left behind and the difficulty of setting up the infrastructure for the migrants,” said Adam Isacson, a security analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America.

Infrastructure would include creating adequate processing facilities for CBP, staffing up to do the processing, and expanding COVID testing, he said.

Migrant families

Although Title 42 has led to the rapid expulsion of most immigrants and asylum seekers, a small increase has been reported in the number of migrant families that are being allowed into the U.S.

Isacson has kept a steady watch on migrant families arriving along the border, traveling through Mexico toward the U.S. The number of individuals in migrant families — 7,260 in January 2021 — is far lower than in 2019 when 10,000 were coming in a week. “If they say they have gotten hundreds in the last week, that’s not that much,” Isacson said.

Overall, January showed an increase of 6 percent over the previous month when Title 42 expulsions and regular apprehensions were combined.

Advocates and authorities are concerned about the rising numbers.

This week in Donna, near McAllen, a climate-controlled tent camp was reopened by CBP for immigrant families. The temporary tent camp expands processing capacity in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest region for the U.S. Border Patrol.

Shelters and nonprofits in the Rio Grande Valley have seen a small increase in the number of migrant families released into the area. In Brownsville, for example, two nonprofits greet about 50 persons daily, bringing them hygiene kits and meals, after they are dropped off at a bus station there.

Nonprofits along migrant trails from Honduras to U.S. say shelters are filling up again as asylum seekers and immigrants head north because economies are suffering due to the pandemic, people are still feeling the effects of two recent hurricanes, and the new Biden administration has given them new hope that they would be welcomed in the U.S.

At the Good Neighbor Settlement House in Brownsville, staff is bracing to help more desperate families — a task complicated because of the pandemic. In the past, immigrant families were allowed to bathe and eat at their nonprofit. No longer.

“When we started noticing that McAllen got the first 150 persons [in families] we knew we had to be prepared,” said Belinda Bradford, the assistant director at the Good Neighbor Settlement House. Sighing, Bradford said migration is “unhealthy. It is causing a lot of trauma to children.”

The election of a new president friendlier to immigrants sparked a journey north for Gustavo Sanchez, the father of five young children. He left his central Mexican state of Guanajuato late last year for a job making bleachers in North Texas. He never made it. He was deported through Laredo last week and expelled into a cartel-controlled area of northern Mexico.

He told his wife not to wire him money to get home because of cartel lookouts. Instead, he hitchhiked some 500 miles south.

Now, Sanchez would just like to get back his Mexican identification card and $200 in pesos he had with him when he was caught, he said by phone Wednesday.

“When I left [Texas immigration officials] said they didn’t have them, and said they sent them to Mexico,” Sanchez said.



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Trump Departs White House for Final Time as President, Will Travel to Florida Instead of Biden's Inauguration – U.S. News & World Report



Trump Departs White House for Final Time as President, Will Travel to Florida Instead of Biden’s Inauguration  U.S. News & World Report



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White House testing czar says Americans who traveled during Thanksgiving should get tested


There was a concern entering and coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday as people travelled and congregated, which was why experts tried to get out the message that people shouldn’t have large gatherings but to keep it confined to their immediate households, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told NBC on Sunday.

“But, you know people are not always going to do that so what we expect unfortunately, as we go to the next couple of weeks into December, that we might see a surge superimposed upon that surge that we’re already in,” Fauci said. 

Fauci said that he didn’t want to frighten people by giving this message, “except to say it is not too late at all for us to do something about this, because as we travel back to be careful when we go back to where we are, to just continue to do the things that we’ve been talking about.”  

He said that it is known that something can be done about the infection curve particularly going in to the colder season, by doing things like mitigating with masks, distance and not having crowds or congregate settings. 

When asked whether there would be more dire warnings about travel preparing for Christmas and New Year’s, Fauci said “I think we’re going to be faced with another situation, we’re going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family, that we’re in a very difficult time and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season.” 

This is because, Fauci said, “we’re entering into what really is a precarious situation because we’re in the middle of a steep slope.” 

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though, he said, because vaccines will be seen soon, “we likely, almost certainly, are going to be vaccinating a portion of the individuals in the first priority before the end of December.” Going in to January, February and March, more and more people will be being vaccinated. 



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