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    Airlines Given Tentative OK to Halt Service at Dozens of U.S. Cities

    The Transportation Department said late Friday that it would tentatively allow 15 airlines to stop flights to about 60 mostly small and midsize cities, though none of the destinations stand to lose service entirely.

    The destinations are mostly in secondary markets where airlines have said there is little demand for flights or that could be served by other nearby airports.

    American Airlines, for example, would be allowed to stop flying to an airport in Worcester, Mass., which is a little over an hour’s drive from Boston Logan International Airport. It would also be allowed to stop flying to Aspen and Eagle, Colo.

    Delta Air Lines would be able to stop service to Erie, Pa.; Flint, Mich.; Lincoln, Neb.; and Williston, N.D., among others. United Airlines would be able to stop flights to Fairbanks, Alaska; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and others.

    None of the cities would be left without service, though, because the agency granted exemptions only if other airlines still flew to them, it said. The Transportation Department also said it reserved the right to revoke any decision if it resulted in “inadequate capacity or connectivity” to a destination.

    The decision is rooted in the federal stimulus passed in late March, known as the CARES Act. Under that law, any airline that received federal assistance, including all of the major carriers, is required to maintain a minimum number of flights to locations that it had served before the pandemic erased virtually all demand for air travel. But the law also allowed the Transportation Department to grant exceptions, which it has done regularly for weeks.

    The agency said it would review any objections or comments on its decision filed before 5 p.m. next Thursday.

    The outbreak has created a devastating crisis for the aviation industry, worse than the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the financial crisis a decade ago. Demand for flights started to plummet in March. By mid-April, airlines on average were transporting about 95 percent fewer passengers than they were the year before.

    This week, several airlines said they had started to see some recovery in demand, but warned that it could be fleeting.

    “We have seen a little bit of a bounce off the bottom, but my caution is to not draw too much in the way of conclusions,” Paul Jacobson, Delta’s chief finance officer, said on Tuesday.

    • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

      Updated May 20, 2020

      • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

        Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

      • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

        Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

      • How can I protect myself while flying?

        If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

      • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

        There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

      • Should I wear a mask?

        The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

      • What should I do if I feel sick?

        If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

      • How can I help?

        Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


    On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration screened fewer than 320,000 passengers and airline and airport workers at its security checkpoints in airports nationwide, or fewer than 12 percent of those screened a year ago.

    Most experts and industry executives say they expect it to take several years before the industry sees demand return to pre-pandemic levels.

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