A Sea Of Blue Tarps As Another Hurricane Season Begins In Puerto Rico
Almost three years after Hurricane Maria, tens of thousands of homes in Puerto Rico are still uninhabitable. Meanwhile, in news from other countries: Mexico investigates price-fixing for medical oxygen; Israel battles a second wave of the virus; and Tokyo trades the summer Olympics for a spike in COVID cases.
Thousands In Puerto Rico Still Without Housing Since Maria
Nearly three years after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, tens of thousands of homes remain badly damaged, many people face a hurricane season under fading blue tarp roofs and the island’s first major program to repair and rebuild houses hasn’t completed a single one. Maria hit more than 786,000 homes on Sept. 20, 2017, causing minor damage to some homes and sweeping others from their foundations. A federally funded program administered by local officials carried out relatively small repairs to some 108,000 homes the next year, while churches and nonprofits patched up thousands with private funds. (Coto, 7/24)
The Washington Post:
Where Can Americans Travel To In The Caribbean?
As countries figure out how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, some have closed their borders to outside travel. Sometimes that’s a blanket ban on visitors, while for others the bans are origin country-specific. The United States is among countries targeted for bans due to increasing coronavirus cases. So where can Americans travel? While the State Department has a Global Level 4 Health Advisory to warn citizens to avoid all international travel until further notice, these are the Caribbean destinations technically open for U.S. tourists. (Compton, 7/23)
And in foreign news on COVID --
Mexico Opens Anti-Monopoly Probe Amid Oxygen Price Rise
Mexico’s anti-monopoly commission said Thursday it is looking into possible price-fixing or monopolistic practices in the market for medical oxygen, after pharmacies reported a spike in prices and difficulties in getting tanks and refills. Prices for oxygen tanks in Mexico have reportedly tripled since the pandemic hit Mexico in March, and Mexico continues to post record levels of infection. On Thursday, the Health Department said there were 8,438 newly confirmed cases for the previous 24 hours, bringing the country’s case total to 370,712. Confirmed deaths rose by 718 to 41,908. (7/24)
The Washington Post:
In Israel, Netanyahu's Coronavirus Outbreak Response Is Widely Criticized
In May, Benjamin Netanyahu was riding high. He had just started his fifth term as Israel's prime minister after surviving a string of near-death elections, had co-opted his main rival into a unity government and was enjoying a surge in popularity after successfully leading the country through the initial onslaught of the coronavirus. Just two months later, with Israel suffering a second wave of infections, the prime minister finds himself enduring a hot summer of collapsing poll numbers, swelling protests and dissenting lawmakers. (Hendrix, 7/23)
The Washington Post:
The Tokyo Olympics Were Supposed To Open Friday. Instead, The City Is Facing A Spike In Coronavirus Cases.
If all had gone according to plan, Tokyo would awake tomorrow to the opening day of the 2020 Summer Olympics. Instead, the city is grappling with a spike in coronavirus infections, with 366 new cases reported Thursday, a daily record. The rescheduled Summer Games are set for a year from Thursday. Japan marked the moment with a 15-minute ceremony held in Tokyo’s newly built Olympic Stadium, absent an audience. (Berger, 7/23)
In news from across the pond —
Overseas Visits To UK Halved In March As COVID-19 Struck
The number of overseas visitors to Britain halved in March, the first month in which COVID-19 seriously affected travel, and there was a similar fall in British people going abroad, official figures showed on Friday. The number of visits to Britain dropped to 1.4 million, 54% fewer than in March 2019, while the number of Britons travelling overseas fell by 50% to 3.2 million, Britain’s Office for National Statistics said. (7/24)
UK PM Johnson Says Anti-Vaxxers 'Are Nuts'
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that opponents of vaccination, so called anti-vaxxers, were “nuts”. “There’s all these anti-vaxxers now,” Johnson told medical workers at a doctor’s surgery in London. “They are nuts, they are nuts.” (7/24)
Americans Spread Virus Fear In One EU Country They Can Visit
Earlier this month, the EU extended a travel ban for U.S. residents, deeming America’s pandemic response inadequate. While it wasn’t binding, most member states followed the advice. But Ireland stayed open. It didn’t make quarantine mandatory like Slovenia or demand a negative Covid-19 test as Croatia did. While visitors are told to restrict their movements for two weeks, there’s no legal requirement to do so. Under pressure to justify the approach, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told lawmakers this week that mandatory quarantine would be harsh and do little to control the spread of the virus, and the government is still discouraging non-essential travel to the country. (Doyle, 7/23)