Oil prices post a loss as EIA reports first weekly U.S. crude-stock climb in 7 weeks


Oil prices posted a loss on Thursday after U.S. government data revealed a weekly climb in U.S. crude inventories, on the heels of six consecutive weeks of declines, raising expectations of an oversupplied market as uncertainty continues to surround the outlook for demand.

The Energy Information Administration reported Thursday that U.S. crude inventories rose by 2 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 4—the first weekly rise in seven weeks. Total U.S. crude inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve stood at 500.4 million barrels, about 14% above the five-year average for this time of year.

That compared with an average forecast by analysts polled by S&P Global Platts for a fall of 500,000 barrels. The American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday reported a climb of 3 million barrels, according to sources. The supply reports were each delayed by a day due to Monday’s U.S. Labor Day holiday.

U.S. refiners took an even bigger hit than expected from Hurricane Laura, which made landfall in late August on the U.S. Gulf Coast, Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at The Price Futures Group, told MarketWatch. The EIA reported a big drop of 1.1 million barrels per day in crude refinery runs for last week, leading to the first domestic crude-stock build in weeks, he said.

On Thursday, West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery
CL.1,
-2.52%

CLV20,
-2.52%

 on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 75 cents, or 2%, to settle at $37.30 a barrel. November Brent crude
BRN.1,
-0.39%

 
BRNX20,
-0.39%
,
the global benchmark, lost 73 cents, or 1.8%, to reach $40.06 a barrel after a 2.5% gain in the previous session.

Read:Volatility in oil and gold may offer more opportunity than risk

Oil futures finished higher Wednesday, with U.S. prices reclaiming less than half of the more than 7% drop suffered in the previous session though worries over the demand outlook, driven by the pandemic, continued to limit crude’s upside potential.

Thursday’s EIA data also showed crude stocks at the Cushing, Okla., storage hub edged up by about 1.9 million barrels for the week, while total domestic oil production climbed by 300,000 barrels to 10 million barrels per day.

Gasoline supply, meanwhile, fell by 3 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles declined by 1.7 million barrels. The S&P Global Platts survey had shown expectations for a supply decline of 2.5 million barrels for gasoline, but distillates were expected to rise by 300,000 barrels.

On Nymex, October gasoline
RBV20,
-2.40%

 shed 1.9% to $1.0977 a gallon, while October heating oil
HOV20,
-2.48%

 settled at $1.0824 a gallon, down 2.1%.

The market is in the “midst of refinery maintenance season, which inherently causes a drop in refinery runs and ultimately finished products supplied,” a proxy for demand, said Tyler Richey, a co-editor at Sevens Report Research.

“If we don’t see those demand metrics recover to where they were prior to Hurricane Laura’s landfall, then it will be very difficult for oil to revisit the recent highs in the low-mid $40s, especially given the global supply side uncertainties regarding OPEC+’s next policy moves,” he told MarketWatch.

On Sept. 17, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, which form a group known as OPEC+, will hold a market-monitoring meeting. The group in August trimmed supply cuts from earlier this year on hope of improved demand amid the pandemic.

OPEC+ oil production climbed by 1.71 million barrels a day to 34.63 million barrels a day in August from a month earlier, according to an S&P Global Platts survey released Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, in a monthly report, the EIA lowered its 2021 growth forecast for global consumption of petroleum and liquid fuels by 500,000 barrels per day from its August forecast, to about 99.6 million barrels a day, even as it raised its 2020 forecasts for WTI and Brent crude-oil prices, natural-gas prices, and U.S. crude production.

Read:How a big decline in China’s oil imports may ‘test the resiliency of the market’

Rounding out action on Nymex, prices for the October natural gas contract
NGV20,
-3.78%

 settled at $2.323 per million British thermal units, down 8 cents, or nearly 3.5%.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday that domestic supplies of natural gas rose by 70 billion cubic feet for the week ended Sept. 4. That was a bit higher than the increase of 64 billion cubic feet forecast by analysts polled by S&P Global Platts.



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Virology experts say the key is keeping Spain’s hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 this time


MADRID — Just days away from the start of a new school year, Spain’s capital city rolled out fresh restrictions on Monday to cope with what’s becoming a relentless second wave of cases.

But those measures — strict controls on the distance between seats rather than tables in food-service settings, reducing funeral attendance to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, and 10-person limits on social gatherings — seem modest as the country’s total infections close in on 500,000, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins. Official numbers indicate that threshold has already been reached. Spain’s is the highest infection total in Europe, though it pales against the 6 million–plus cases in the U.S., which has seven times Spain’s population.

Madrid’s new measures are cold comfort to parents, including this journalist, who will be sending at least one child to all-in-person classes of 21 children. More than 2,000 of 66,000 Madrid teachers recently tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to be retested. Elsewhere in the country, two schools have already had to close due to infections.

At the heart of the resurgence of Spain’s cases has been a rush to return to normal. Spain’s experience has also been impacted by government desperation to get the tourism industry and bars back in operation; overly relaxed family gatherings; insufficient safety protocols for field workers; and the behavior of idle youth with effectively nothing to do but party, and spread the virus.

Much as New York did, Spain climbed out of the depths of COVID-19 infections with the strictest measures possible, but Spain fell right back two months later. How the country pulls itself out this time may be a blueprint for other countries and municipalities to follow. MarketWatch spoke to these experts via email in hope of shedding light on where Spain stands now and what should be done.

Juan Jesús Gestal Otero, professor emeritus of preventative medicine and public health at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, was one of 20 experts who signed a letter in the British medical journal the Lancet asking for an independent review of Spain’s COVID-19 response.

MarketWatch: What key mistakes did Spain make after the lockdown in the spring, and what must it do now to fix the situation?

Otero: It took a long time to get contact tracing up and running. It should have started when the case curve began to decline. It would have helped to have the disease more controlled at the end of the de-escalation. Each autonomous community set up its own tracking system, many of them insufficiently staffed.

MarketWatch: Will Madrid’s new measures, such as cutting capacity at bars and restaurants, really help get the disease under control?


Johns Hopkins

Otero: I don’t think those measures help much to contain outbreaks. … To have the disease under control, the most important thing at this time is to strengthen the tracking capacity of the national health system. If this is not done soon, the continued increase in outbreaks can eventually overwhelm the tracking capacity of the system and lead to a loss of control and aggravate the situation. National coordination is also very important.

Don’t miss:To defeat COVID-19, ‘we need a unified national strategy,’ says public health expert Dr. Howard Koh

MarketWatch: What are the differences between now and March that are encouraging and discouraging?

Otero: Now there is epidemiological surveillance capacity, although it needs much improvement, for the early diagnosis of cases and contact tracing, and there is the capacity to perform many tests, which allows for detection of a large number of asymptomatic patients. Most of the current cases are young people in whom the disease is less severe, unlike in March-April, and the health system is not under pressure. It is discouraging to observe how certain social groups, mostly young people, are encouraging outbreaks with their behaviors.

MarketWatch: What should other countries learn from Spain?

Otero: Strongly strengthen the epidemiological surveillance system. As soon as possible, start tracking the contacts of the cases and carry out many, many tests, to locate the largest possible number of asymptomatic patients. Make the return to the “new normal” very carefully to avoid new outbreaks. Do not authorize activities that are incompatible with a respiratory pandemic, such as those that involve spending time in closed, poorly ventilated places with many people, parties, nightlife activities. … Raising awareness of the need to take protective measures in homes when they receive visitors, receive them in well-covered rooms, avoid family parties … as it is in homes where the greatest number of infections occurs.

Dr. Vicente Soriano is the director of the UNIR Medical Center in Madrid and a clinician and professor of infectious diseases at the UNIR Health Sciences School and Medical Center.

MarketWatch: What do you think of Madrid’s new measures to try to contain the virus?

Soriano: The confluence of crowding, the return to working activities for many, and easier access to testing — as compared with negligible in March — largely accounts for the new surge in cases. It will go up for the next couple of weeks. Despite, to date, that many new PCR+ diagnoses have been found in young and asymptomatic people, this second wave will soon expand to the whole population, including again the most vulnerable populations. Indeed, although so far the situation at most large Madrid hospitals has not collapsed, it reminds us slightly of what happened in February, when overwhelming began to occur.

MarketWatch: What about contact tracing and other efforts?

Soriano: The advent of rapid antigen tests will be helpful, although there is room for further improvement, testing saliva (instead of nasopharynx fluid), selling in pharmacies, and allowing for self-testing at home, like pregnancy tests, as many times as convenient.

MarketWatch: What else needs to be done?

Soriano: Regional governments need to work further on three areas: (1.) increase the role of primary-care physicians as a first barrier to assess nonseriously ill patients and manage them with the help of telemedicine, avoiding the collapse of hospital emergency departments; (2.) medicalization and ensure enough health-care workers and protective equipment for nursing homes for the elderly and other institutionalized patients — these places accounted for more than 60% of the death toll during the first COVID-19 tsunami wave in Spain; (3.) ensure stocks of diagnostic tests, protective equipment and enough doctors and nurses in clinics and hospitals for confronting the new COVID-19 surge. Acting upfront is always preferable to at the time of demand, when damage has already occurred.

MarketWatch: As a parent, how do you feel about sending your own children back to school?

Soriano: Reopening schools is a critical decision that is supported by the fact that youngsters very rarely become sick and allows parents to continue their jobs. So, I am in favor of reopening schools and therefore let my four children go to school, with the maximum guarantees they have established. I am aware that temporal closing of groups, classes and periodic cases will be reported. Inevitable. But working under this threat is preferable to paralyzing or closing the school.

Read on:Top coronavirus doctor in Spain has a message for revelers and tourists



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To defeat COVID-19, ‘we need a unified national strategy,’ says public health expert Dr. Howard Koh


This interview is part of a series of conversations MarketWatch is conducting with some of the leading voices in the U.S. on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Howard Koh knows what it’s like to be a government official running a pandemic response.

In 2009, while he served as assistant secretary of health in the Department of Health and Human Services, the H1N1 flu virus was detected in the U.S. More than 60 million people in the U.S. were thought to have contracted the novel form of the influenza A virus, with at least 12,469 people succumbing to it.

While there are marked differences between a flu pandemic and this coronavirus pandemic, Koh thinks many of the lessons he learned back in 2009 are missing today.

“When crises occur, what people expect and deserve is a one-government approach: federal, state and local officials working together to protect the American people,” Koh, now a professor of public health leadership at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said Wednesday during an interview. In 2009, “everybody saw that government was working together. And that’s what has been absent this time, and in my view has allowed this pandemic to persist for way too long.”

MarketWatch: What are some things you’d like Americans to better understand about how we develop drugs and vaccines in the U.S.?

Dr. Howard Koh: With respect to vaccines, particularly, there’s a very well-described, carefully followed process for vaccines through [clinical] testing protocols, having them approved by the FDA, and then disseminated broadly to the public. That’s a process that’s been respected over a number of decades for a whole host of vaccines that have saved millions of lives. We need to hold the standards high now for any potential COVID vaccine.

MarketWatch: Does the focus on speed worry you?

Koh: This current vaccine effort is being conducted in the fastest timetable in history. Vaccines can sometimes take a decade, and this vaccine is being developed over a matter of months. Along with speed, which is very much needed in a crisis like this, we also need attention to safety. And the public needs to hear more about the attention to safety.


‘If we skip the science now, it could cost us many lives later.’


— Dr. Howard Koh

MarketWatch: You recently tweeted about the need for clear, consistent standards for an emergency-use authorization, or EUA. What brought that up?

Koh: It was fairly clear to me and many of my scientific colleagues that the data on [convalescent plasma’s] effectiveness was not strong enough to proceed with an EUA. There have been no definitive outcomes from randomized, placebo-controlled trials. The Mayo Clinic data that was held up as justifying authorization were analyses where everybody got convalescent plasma and there was no control arm. They tried to say that people who got it earlier did better than those who got it later, and those who got higher doses did better than those who got the lower doses of antibodies. But that’s not the gold standard for creating definitive evidence.

At some point, randomized clinical trials are going to try to answer [whether] patients receiving convalescent plasma do better than those who don’t. [But] it’s very hard to have anybody agree to enter that trial because everybody will want the plasma, and no one will want to be randomized through a placebo-controlled arm. This announcement, ironically, is impeding the science. If we skip the science now, it could cost us many lives later.

MarketWatch: Just to clarify: the EUA means that any COVID patient who fits that profile or the indication can now receive plasma. So there would be no need to enroll in a trial?

Koh: That’s the fear. An emergency use authorization is not approval. [FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn] did say that, in his defense. But I don’t think people understand that distinction right now. The standard is much lower for issuing an EUA than a full FDA approval. In a time like this, where trust and confidence is everything, that bar has got to be held really high.

MarketWatch: Earlier this summer, the surge of cases in July seemed to catch a lot of Americans off guard after the lockdown. We’re seeing some leveling now. What do you predict for the fall? What are you looking out for?

Koh: Well, it’s true that the cases have dropped by about a third from the peak in midsummer, but we still have a long way to go. Hospitalizations have declined. Deaths are starting to drop a little bit. That reflects the sacrifices of millions of Americans to adhere to these public health standards, and people should be thanked and supported for following those new norms.

But we’ve got a long way to go. In every step of this pandemic, our country has underestimated the tenacity of this virus and overestimated our ability to contain it. As a result, we’re into month eight of the “first wave” whereas so many countries around the world got through this in two and a half to three months. We opened up too early. We let down our guard. There’s not been a coordinated national strategy. Every state is pursuing their own strategy. And it’s led to this protracted first wave.

People ask me regularly, is this a second wave? And I say, no, you have a second wave by definition only when the first wave comes and goes. The first wave has come and never left. Other countries are having small second waves [and] have aggressively tackled them in a way that our country has not. A second wave of COVID, plus seasonal flu, in the middle of schools and colleges [reopening], are all converging for this fall, and that’s the issue before us.

MarketWatch: If you could set a national coronavirus plan, what do you see as the key pillars of what the U.S. needs to do in terms of its response?


‘The first wave has come and never left [in the U.S.]. Other countries are having small second waves [and] have aggressively tackled them in a way that our country has not.’


— Dr. Howard Koh

Koh: We’ve never had a national strategy. It’s always been 50 states. It’s late but still not too late to say we need a unified national strategy going forward: on testing, not just harder but smarter; on supporting contact-tracing efforts, which in too many parts of the country are overwhelmed right now because the case loads are so high; and on making sure that states are cooperating and not competing with each other for supplies and [personal protective equipment], to assure the hospital capacity is ready to go this fall.

There should be a national requirement for masks. We still have only 35 states with requirements.

And then it’d be really important to have a daily briefing from the White House where top health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci [the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases], were allowed to address the press and public directly, every day, starting with the explanation of trends and data and evidence. The president restarted these briefings after a couple of months of hiatus. But we need the highest-level health officials who are trusted, so that people realize there’s a unified response and there’s a system trying to protect everybody.

The messaging has been so mixed. Confusion has been allowed to grow, and that’s just unacceptable, in the worst pandemic that our country has seen this century.

MarketWatch: What do you think have been the biggest issues in this pandemic?

Koh: Well, in the last 10 days, there was not just the FDA announcement [on convalescent plasma], which was then partially walked back by the commissioner, but then the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] changed guidelines on the need for asymptomatic contacts to be tested. And that appears to have been walked back, too, although last I heard the written guidance hadn’t been changed back.

What bothered me about the CDC development is that testing guidelines having to be revised is absolutely appropriate in a dynamic situation like this, with more evidence and data coming forward. We need constant revisiting of testing guidelines so we can focus on high-risk populations. But to do it just because the information was discovered on a website — it just creates confusion and questions. In the future, when such guidance needs to be revised, it should be done in a proactive way, with a formal press conference, with the director of the CDC explaining why the change was made, with the evidence and the data to support it. And if that were done, the scientific community would rally around what’s changing. But that did not occur.

MarketWatch: Following up on what you said earlier when we were talking about your national plan ideas, you mentioned testing not just harder but smarter. Can you explain that?

Koh: We now know that there are certain high-risk groups for COVID. Nursing homes, that’s absolutely front and center. Frontline health-care workers. Essential workers in key businesses. And, very importantly, communities of color. Homeless shelters. And now potentially schools and colleges.

They’re trying to send more rapid tests to nursing homes, and there’s more attention to testing for asymptomatic and symptomatic patients and staff in nursing homes. That’s a step forward. It came a little late, but at least it occurred. We want to see that process continue and then similar efforts for those other high-risk groups. The principle is always [to] go for the high-risk populations, and prioritize them. And we haven’t done that in a systematic way in this response at all.

This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

Read more A Word from the Experts interviews:

A lung doctor on what she’s learning about coronavirus ‘long haulers’: shortness of breath, fatigue, and depression but also ‘improvement over time’

This Seattle man volunteered to be injected with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine: ‘It was kind of my duty as a healthy individual to step up’

Dr. Osterholm: Americans will be living with the coronavirus for decades





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The economy still has a mountain to climb, but it’s digging itself out faster than expected


Is the economy half-full or half-empty? That’s the burning question after a surprisingly upbeat U.S. jobs report for August.

Read: U.S. regains 1.4 million jobs in August and unemployment drops to 8.4%

The expiration of federal aid for the unemployed at the end of the July and the still-spreading coronvirus were supposed to put a big dent in the economy last month. But so far the evidence is thin.

To be sure, the pace of the recovery has decelerated. The U.S. is regaining jobs at a slower pace several months after the economy reopened, consumer spending has softened and businesses are still hesitant to invest.

Read: Economy softened in August, Fed says, as some temporary layoffs turn permanent

Yet the economy is still expanding and looks likely to continue to do so. More people are going out to eat, states such as New York are easing coronavirus restrictions, schools around the country are trying to start back up and businesses are getting creative in making their premises safer for customers and employees alike.

“The big picture is that even in the face of a summer flare-up in virus cases, the U.S. economy managed to soldier on reasonably well,’ said Douglas Porter, chief economist of BMO Capital Markets.

Read: Initial jobless claims fall to new pandemic low of 881,000 — but there’s a big catch

Big hurdles still remain, of course.

The coronavirus hasn’t gone away and there’s still no cure, leaving many businesses in the lurch. Restaurants can’t fully reopen, brick-and-mortar retailers are bereft of traffic, airports are mostly empty, hotel rooms are largely unoccupied and the major sports leagues are either playing in bubbles or sharply limiting attendance. Life is far from normal.

“Clearly some industries remain flat on their back, and a full labor market recovery for the U.S. economy is not yet in sight,” said chief economist Scott Anderson of Bank of the West.

Where does the economy goes from here? Most Wall Street
DJIA,
-0.56%

economists predict a slow and gradual recovery, punctuated by occasional setbacks.

Many are still worried the end of federal aid will eventually take the air out of the recovery unless Democrats and Republicans break a deadlock in Washington and come to the rescue again. So far neither side has budged just a few months before what could turn out to be one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history in November.

The surprisingly upbeat August employment report, ironically, could make a deal on more fiscal stimulus harder by undercutting the argument that more aid is needed. Republicans might decide the economy doesn’t need any more help after several trillion dollars in government stimulus and the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates to a record low.

Don’t expect the case in favor of more aid to get much support anytime soon, either. The next few weeks are largely barren of major economic indicators that will reveal any big change in the economy.



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Celebrate Labor Day safely: Keep the socializing outside and don’t touch anyone


Summer is almost over; the pandemic, not so much.

While the number of daily coronavirus cases in the U.S. has come down from its peak of more than 77,000 reported on July 16, the country is still averaging more than 40,000 new cases per day. That’s well above the baseline of 10,000 new cases per day that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, says the country should be recording as we head into the flu season — which could make this the worst fall, from a public health standpoint, that we’ve ever had.

“We know from prior experience that when you get into holiday weekends, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, there is a tendency of people to be careless somewhat with regard to the public health measures that we keep recommending over and over again,” he told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell this week. “You can have an enjoyable weekend … you don’t need to lock yourself down, but don’t be careless about things,” he explained, citing crowds and bars in particular for spreading COVID-19.

Coronavirus update:Global cases climb above 26.4 million, and U.S. vaccine program head sees very low chance of vaccine by late October

The CDC has warned against large gatherings of more than 50 people, as it’s often difficult to follow social distancing guidelines like staying six feet apart in these situations. But contact tracing suggests that even small gatherings that feel safe — such as backyard barbecues or family parties, which are popular Labor Day activities — have been driving forces in spreading the virus. Cases in point:

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan reported that contact tracing in July found that 44% of people testing positive for COVID-19 in the state had attended a family activity, and 23% had gone to a house party.

In Alabama, 11 relatives gathered together at a lake house in July. They mostly spent time outside, but none of them wore masks. Eight of them later tested positive for COVID-19. “We let our guard down,” one guest admitted.

And more than 130 COVID-19 cases and at least one death have been traced back to a small Maine wedding in early August that counted just 67 guests. The person who died didn’t even attend the wedding; she apparently contracted COVID-19 from someone else who went.

Dr. Jolion McGreevy, the medical director of The Mount Sinai Hospital Emergency Department in New York, told MarketWatch that people may already be forgetting how vital social distancing was in March and April, when the outbreak was just beginning. “New York did a really great job early of setting guidelines around how people should behave in public … and it really made a difference for us and kept the pandemic from getting really out of control in the city,” he said. “People cannot take that for granted now. We have to stay on top of this.”

So how can you celebrate Labor Day weekend safely with your family? There are three key rules: Stay outside. Stay six feet away from anyone who doesn’t live in your household. And wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

The biggest no-no: Touching anyone from outside your household — which is something to keep in mind if you’re planning to go to a barbecue or attend a gathering where people will be coming in from all different places. That means no hugs or handshakes, no cheek-kissing, and no sharing food or drinks. People should remain in a “pod” with members of their own household that’s six feet apart from other family pods.

“The only real ‘no’ is direct physical contact,” McGreevy said. “But people in small gatherings with people they know really start to become lax — they take their masks down, they think ‘we can hug’ or ‘I can shake hands.’ These are things that I just wouldn’t do.”

This is because the coronavirus spreads primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, even if they are not showing COVID-19 symptoms. “If you’ve been out and about, you need to assume that you have COVID,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, said in Michigan earlier this week. “And if you visit grandma, keep your mask on.”

Some other activities that McGreevy suggests people avoid include indoor parties, which are hard to ventilate properly. Long road trips in a car with people that you don’t live with could also be risky. “I would think twice about doing that,” he said. “Staying outside in a well-ventilated area where people can maintain a good distance with ease is clearly the best. I don’t really think a confined space would be that safe.”

If you have to go indoors or share a car, then wear a mask, open windows in lieu of running the air conditioner, avoid physical contact, keep washing your hands and don’t touch your face.

And try to keep shindigs on the shorter side, as the longer you are around other people, the greater your risk of catching and spreading COVID-19.

“I think it’s really important that people follow very clear protocols, and that everyone in the group agrees to stay six feet apart, and that everyone will wear a mask at all times,” he said.

Here are some more guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how to get together over Labor Day weekend safely.

If you’re hosting a party or cookout

  • Remind guests to stay home if they feel sick or if they may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
  • Host your gathering outdoors, and arrange tables and chairs to allow for social distancing. People from the same household can sit together – just keep them six feet away from other families.
  • If the party has to move inside, open windows to improve ventilation, and clean high-contact surfaces frequently.
  • Don’t shake hands, elbow-bump or give hugs when someone arrives or leaves. Wave instead.
  • Everyone should wear masks when less than six feet apart from other people, or while indoors.
  • Make sure everyone washes their hands or uses hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Try to limit shared items (like hand towels and utensils) so that multiple people aren’t handling them.
  • Skip buffet and family-style dining, and have one person serve everyone to limit multiple people touching food or serving utensils.

If you’re visiting a park or beach

  • Stay home if you feel sick at all, have been exposed to COVID-19, or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Visit parks that are close to your home, as traveling long distances means you’ll probably have to make stops along the way, which can contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask when social distancing is difficult, such as walking along crowded trails or using a public restroom.
  • Avoided crowded spots where you cannot stay at least six feet apart from people that you don’t live with.
  • Don’t gather with people who don’t live in your house.

If you’re traveling overnight

  • Wear a mask in the lobby or other common areas of your hotel or bed & breakfast
  • Avoid or minimize use of common areas that can lead to close contact, such as break rooms, patios, lounging areas, game rooms, fitness centers, saunas and salons.
  • Choose contactless options when possible, such as mobile room keys, contactless payments, checking in and out of your room online, contactless room service delivery, etc.
  • Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator where possible, or wait to use the elevator when you can ride alone or only with people from your household.

And refer to the CDC for an even more detailed list of tips for gathering safely this weekend.



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