COVID-19 Updates

Hometown Hall United States COVID-19 Update May 7

Troy Warren #covid-all


HT Classic Cars

Hometown Hall ULTIMATE LIMO of the Day May 7

Troy Warren #carnews-all


Travel News

IATA Data Suggests Air Travel Bouncing Back

DONALD WOOD | TravelPulse.Com

Troy Warren #travel-all


New data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) suggests that while air travel numbers are still down, they are bouncing back.

IATA officials revealed a 67.2 percent decline in global air traffic in March, compared to the same month in 2019. The March totals were an improvementfrom February’s 74.9 percent decline compared to February 2019.

Domestic travel was the highlight of the air traffic rebound, which bounced back to 67.7 percent of March 2019 levels. International flights were still down 87.8 percent globally compared to March 2019 due to the COVID-19-related travel restrictions still in place.

“The positive momentum we saw in some key domestic markets in March is an indication of the strong recovery we are anticipating in international markets as travel restrictions are lifted,” IATA director general Willie Walsh said. “People want and need to fly. And we can be optimistic that they will do so when restrictions are removed.”

From a global perspective, capacity dropped 56.8 percent and load factor dropped 19.7 percentage points to 62.3 percent. Domestic capacity fell 20.5 percent, while load factor dropped 12.5 percentage points to 71.6 percent.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced over 1.6 million people were screened at airport checkpoints on May 2, the highest number of passengers since March 12, 2020. The TSA has now screened at least one million people per day since March 11.



HT Photo

Hometown Hall “Stellar Studios” Photo of the Day May 7

“They learn young!”  Troy Warren #photos-all


HT Foodie

Upstate New York Get an Official Regional Food Trail

By Adam Campbell-Schmitt

Troy Warren #foodie-all

The “Upstate Eats Trail” guides travelers via regional dishes like Buffalo wings, salt potatoes, and garbage plates.

New York City may garner much of the glory when it comes to the state’s dining scene. After all, the metropolis is home to dozens of name-droppable restaurants and the most Michelin stars in the nation. But as we all know, every corner of the country has its own local dishes and traditions that can be just as delightful to track down as a coveted Manhattan reservation. From Buffalo to Binghamton, cities and towns a few hours northwest of the Big Apple have their own food cultures, and they’re finally being connected with the official Upstate Eats Trail.


Launched this week, the 225-mile trail connects four of the bigger cities in the Western and Central New York regions—Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse—and explores the dishes that locals have adopted or originated, “culinary traditions going back generations to a time when the region boomed with the opening of the Erie Canal and the flood of immigrants who followed,” the website explains.

The trek isn’t necessarily limited to those cities, with some smaller towns and stops highlighted. The trail follows a chain of “regional restaurants, roadside stands, corner taverns, diners and ice cream shops” as curated in a collaboration between those four main cities’ tourism organizations.


So what can one expect to eat along the way? You’ll be stopping for the well-traveled Buffalo-style chicken wings at the famed Anchor Bar, Syracuse’s salt potatoes at Bull & Bear Roadhouse, Binghamton’s chicken spiedies (skewer-cooked meat sandwiches) at Lupo’s S & S Char Pit, and Rochester’s infamous garbage plate at Nick Tahou Hots, a whole mess of potatoes or fries, macaroni salad, hot dogs, hamburger patties, and condiments (that, as a former Central New York-area college student myself, I can confidently confirm epitomizes the term “drunk food”). Don’t forget frozen custard, beef on weck, hot pies, barbecue, cup and char pizza (AKA ‘roni cups), white hots, snappy grillers, and sponge candy.




The website’s FAQ section suggests at least 2 to 3 (but more likely 4 to 5) days to complete the loop, and also has some useful information on other activities in the region, including wineries and breweries to hit up.

Find more information at



Editors Picks HT Business

US job growth slows sharply in sign of hiring struggles


Troy Warren #business-all #picks-all


America’s employers added just 266,000 jobs last month, sharply lower than in March and a sign that some businesses are struggling to find enough workers as the economic recovery strengthens.

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers added just 266,000 jobs last month, sharply lower than in March and a sign that some businesses are struggling to find enough workers as the economic recovery rapidly strengthens.

The economic rebound from the pandemic recession has been so fast that many businesses, particularly in the hard-hit hospitality sector — which includes restaurants, bars and hotels — have been caught flat-footed and unable to fill all their job openings. Some unemployed people have also been reluctant to look for work because they fear catching the virus.

Others have entered new occupations rather than return to their old jobs. And many women, especially working mothers, have had to leave the workforce to care for children.

In addition, construction companies and manufacturers, especially automakers, have been left short of parts as a result of clogged supply chains and have had to slow production for now. Both sectors pulled back on hiring in April.

With viral cases declining and states and localities easing restrictions, businesses have added jobs for four straight months, the Labor Department said Friday. But as more people have begun looking for work, more people are being counted as unemployed: In April, the unemployment rate ticked up from 6% to 6.1% in March.

At the same time, optimism about the economic recovery is growing. Many Americans are flush with cash after having received $1,400 federal relief checks, along with savings they have built up after cutting back on travel, entertainment and dining out over the past year. Millions of consumers have begun spending their extra cash on restaurant meals, airline tickets, road trips and new cars and homes.

Most economists expect job growth to strengthen as more vaccinations are administered and trillions in government aid spreads through the economy. Even if another uptick in COVID-19 cases were to occur, analysts don’t expect most states and cities to reimpose tough business restrictions. Oxford Economics, a consulting firm, predicts that a total of 8 million jobs will be added this year, reducing the unemployment rate to a low 4.3% by year’s end.

From month to month, though, the gains in the job market could prove choppy, as Friday’s jobs report suggested.

“This sort of stop-start pace of hiring means the job market recovery could be more laborious than hoped,” said Leslie Preston, an economist at TD Economics. “We continue to expect that with government stimulus and ongoing vaccinations supporting a release of pent-up demand that hiring will return to a more solid pace over the coming months.”

Among industries, the sharpest loss last month was in temporary work, which shed 111,000 jobs. Construction companies added no jobs in April after having added 97,000 in March. Manufacturing lost 18,000 positions after hiring 54,000 the previous month. And transportation and warehousing cut 74,000 jobs after months of solid gains.

By contrast, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues — businesses that have complained the loudest about a shortage of workers — added 331,000 jobs in April, even more than their 206,000 increase in March.

In its report Friday, the government also sharply lowered its estimate of March’s job gain to 770,000 from its earlier estimate of 916,000.

But job postings are now significantly above pre-pandemic levels, evidence that companies are increasingly confident that business is picking up and that they want to hire. Yet there are still about 4 million people who dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic.

In an encouraging sign in Friday’s report, 430,000 people started looking for jobs in April, though not all found work, which is why the jobless rate rose slightly.

As more consumers venture out of their homes to shop, travel and attend entertainment venues, many businesses say they need workers. On Tuesday, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia, customers for the indoor water park and hotel were plentiful. Yet job-seekers for the company’s hiring open house were relatively scarce.

Nick Locastro, general manager for the lodge, said customer demand is running higher than the company can accommodate because it’s still limited to roughly 50% of its capacity by state rules. He said he expects business to return to pre-pandemic levels by summer if capacity restraints are lifted.

Locastro would like to hire about 100 workers — lifeguards, kitchen workers, hotel cleaners and others — to meet that demand. For now, the company has about 400 on staff, most of whom it recalled after it was allowed to reopen in September. The company had about two dozen interviews scheduled for Tuesday, along with some walk-ins.

“We’d love to have more, if you know of any,” Locastro said. “It’s becoming an increasingly more competitive market.”

Other nearby entertainment venues are also staffing up for summer, including Busch Gardens, Kings Dominion and Colonial Williamsburg.

David Earl who worked at Great Wolf for three years until he left to focus on his college classes just before the pandemic, was among those applying for a job Tuesday. For now, Earl, who is 27, is working at a grocery store chain but said Great Wolf pays more. He tells friends that Great Wolf is hiring, but many are still fearful about catching the virus and are reluctant to apply.

Such strong demand for workers is expected to grow along with the economy. In the first three months of the year, the economy expanded at a vigorous 6.4% annual rate. That pace could accelerate to as high as 13% in the April-June quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

One government report last week showed that wages and benefits rose at a solid pace in the first quarter, suggesting that some companies are having to pay more to attract and keep employees.

President Joe Biden’s relief package also added $300 to weekly unemployment benefits. Bank of America economist Michelle Meyer calculated that for people who earned under $32,000 a year at their previous job, current unemployment aid pays more than their former job did — a reality that could keep up to 1 million people out of the workforce. In addition, higher stock prices and home values might have led up to 1.2 million older Americans to retire earlier than they otherwise would have.


Breaking News Editors Picks HT Local News

4 ex-cops indicted on U.S. civil rights charges in Floyd death

By The Associated Press

Troy Warren #local-all #breaking-all #picks-all

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal grand jury has indicted the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest and death, accusing them of violating the Black man’s constitutional rights as he was restrained face-down on the pavement and gasping for air, according to indictments unsealed Friday.

The three-count indictment names Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao. Specifically, Chauvin, Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force. All four officers are charged for their failure to provide Floyd with medical care. Chauvin was also charged in a second indictment, stemming from the arrest and neck restraint of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Kueng appeared via videoconference in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Chauvin was not part of the court appearance.

Chauvin was convicted last month on state charges of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death and is in Minnesota’s only maximum-security prison as he awaits sentencing. The other three former officers face a state trial in August, and they are free on bond. They were allowed to remain free after Friday’s federal court appearance.

Floyd, 46, died May 25 after Chauvin pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck, even as Floyd, who was handcuffed, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Kueng and Lane also helped restrain Floyd — state prosecutors have said Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held down Floyd’s legs. State prosecutors say Thao held back bystanders and kept them from intervening during the 9 1/2-minute restraint.

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, argued during his murder trial that Chauvin acted reasonably in the situation and that Floyd died because of underlying health issues and drug use. He has filed a request for a new trial, citing many issues including the judge’s refusal to move the trial due to publicity.

Nelson had no comment on the federal charges Friday. Messages left with attorneys for two of the other officers were not immediately returned, and an attorney for the fourth officer was getting in an elevator and disconnected when reached by The Associated Press.

Floyd’s arrest and death, which a bystander captured on cellphone video, sparked protests nationwide and widespread calls for an end to police brutality and racial inequities.



Health And Wellness

Mayo Clinic: Some common things you can expect as you age

By Mayo Clinic News Service

Troy Warren 

Dear Mayo Clinic: I am 56 and have noticed a few things are changing as I get older. I know as I age there will be more changes in my body and mind, but can you provide insights on what are some common things that I can expect?

Answer Throughout life, your body is constantly changing, and there are some surprising changes that can occur within your body and mind. As you age, some of those changes become more obvious, like wrinkles or forgetfulness. Learning what to expect as you get older can help alleviate some anxiety with aging.

Below are some common questions from patients about aging:

Q: I used to be 6 feet tall. Now I am 5 feet, 11 inches tall. Why am I shrinking?

A: When looking at height loss, some changes are normal, and some are not. You have 24 bones, or vertebrae, in your spine with discs in between each vertebra. These discs begin to lose strength and thin as you age. This thinning process causes you to start to shrink.

The bone remodeling process becomes more disordered after age 25. This causes you to break down your bones faster than you rebuild them.

You can help prevent bone breakdown to a substantial degree through weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, aerobics or resistance training, and through a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamins. Also, speak to your primary health care provider about appropriate screening for your risk of osteoporosis. Though screening recommendations differ, most organizations suggest screening universally at 65 for women and 75 for men. However, other risk factors, such as premature menopause, fractures and hormone deficiency, can warrant earlier testing.

Q: I leak urine when I laugh. What can I do?

A: Urinary incontinence, or urinary leakage, is a common problem, especially for older women. This issue can result from many causes, including pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, overactive bladder muscles, weakened pelvic muscles and nerve damage. The right treatment will require a proper diagnosis. Making the right diagnosis will include a full history of symptoms; a physical exam; urine testing; and possibly more advanced studies, such as urodynamic testing, or ultrasound and X-ray imaging.

Treatments are helpful, and they include behavioral modifications, dietary changes, pelvic muscle strengthening, medications and surgery. Incontinence or voiding difficulties in men can be a sign of an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. Generally, I would recommend talking with your health care provider about these symptoms.

Q: Why am I in the bathroom again?

A: Nocturia, or getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, is a common problem for many people. About one-third of men over 30 make at least two trips to the bathroom after they’ve gone to bed. This is usually caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, which is an enlarged prostate. However, there are other causes, including medications; alcohol; caffeine; nighttime drinking and dietary habits; diabetes; heart conditions; and sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.

Treatment for nocturia requires a proper diagnosis by your health care provider. This visit will involve a history, an exam and simple laboratory testing to start. Treatments include behavioral modifications, dietary changes, medications or surgical intervention.

Q: Why do I have so many wrinkles?

A: Wrinkles are a natural part of aging that can be caused by several factors. Some common factors can include stress and sun exposure — both of which break down the elastin fibers and collagen in skin. Exposure to air pollutants and tobacco smoke also can play a significant role.

As you age, skin becomes less elastic, and the natural oil production in skin decreases, causing it to dry out. You start to lose the fat in the deeper layers of your skin, and the crevices and lines become more prominent. Wrinkles are also genetic.

You can slow the effects on the skin by using sunscreen; wearing protective clothing, including hats; using moisturizers; eliminating smoking; and eating a diet full of natural antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.

If you are interested in treatment beyond these tips, talk to your health care provider or a dermatologist who can suggest more specific cosmetic options.

Q: Every day I seem to lose my reading glasses. Why can’t I remember the simplest things anymore?

A: Just like your joints, muscles and skin, your brain ages, too. While it may seem like your glasses are misplacing themselves, your brain is simply having a harder time with recall. You may notice that you forget names or can’t remember a loved one’s birthday. You also may find it takes longer to learn new things. All of these are usually signs of normal aging.

Just as staying physically fit is important as you age, so, too, is keeping your mind active. You’re encouraged to keep active physically, mentally and socially to the best of your ability.

Certainly, there are other causes of memory loss, including medication interactions; vitamin deficiencies; metabolic conditions, such as a thyroid disorder; depression; anxiety; or ongoing infections. If you or your loved ones have noticed that memory is a problem for you, you’re encouraged to talk with your health care provider to determine if it is normal aging or something more significant.

Aging can be challenging, so continue to maintain regular touch points with your health care provider so you can address any concerns in a timely fashion. Being prepared for the future will make it easier for you to enjoy your upcoming birthdays.

— Dr. Steven Perkins, Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic Health System, La Crosse, Wisconsin



HT Home & Garden

Here’s how much it costs to install a deck or patio for the summer

By Kiersten Willis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren #homegarden-all

The backyard’s colorful and modern makeover replaced a brick patio with a deck that offered room for dining and gathering.

You’ve been thinking about it for some time and you’ve finally decided to take the plunge — you’re going to build a patio or deck this summer.

Luckily, the official start to the season isn’t until June 20, but if you want to have a space to socialize and entertain outdoors, the cost is going to be one of the main components to think about.

In general, it costs less to build a patio than a deck, according to Bob Vila.


“Building a patio is often the more cost-effective option due to a variety of factors. Patios consist of more affordable materials like stamped concrete or stone as opposed to wood or bricks which are common for decks. Patios also require less labor and maintenance, which can help keep the costs down. Since patios generally don’t require permits or inspections, they can save you money as well. For the most affordable solution, build your own patio as a weekend DIY project.”

Still, pricing can be flexible on patios and decks.

Better Homes and Gardens reported it can cost $5,000 to install a simple, small concrete patio. A complex, stone or more unique patio can range from $10,000 to $35,000. A DIY project could cost less, according to Fixr. You can spend $700 on a 16×12-foot one using heavy concrete pavers.

Meanwhile, a 16×20-foot deck can cost as little as $6,720 or as much as $22,720. On average, it’ll cost $10,560.

When you set a budget for the deck or patio you want to install, size is also going to be a factor. And even if you want a large outdoor hangout space, you need to consider the size of your yard.

“If your patio is overly large it could lose its intimacy,” Southern Exposure Landscape Management said on its blog. “This shows the importance of planning and determining the size of your patio before creating a patio. Planning ahead of time results in a well-designed outdoor living area that you can utilize to suit your lifestyle.”

For your deck, take the size of your home into account, according to the Armadillo Composite Decking blog.

“Most builders suggest that your deck should be no larger than 20 percent of the house’s square footage. This is so that the deck does not overwhelm a home visually. This, of course, is up to you. If you feel you need a larger deck that takes up more of your yard space, feel free! This may give you less lawn to mow and more yard to enjoy.”



HT Celebrations

NATIONAL SPACE DAY – First Friday in May

Troy Warren #celebrations-all



National Space Day dedicates the first Friday in May to the extraordinary achievements, benefits, and opportunities in the exploration and use of space. The goal of the observance is to promote math, science, technology, and engineering education in young people, The hope is to inspire them to pursue a career in science, especially a career in space-related jobs.

Careers in space involve a wide range of specialties. Going to space requires many working parts, and that’s not just the parts that go into space. All kinds of engineers build the equipment, computers and make the computations.

Accountants and public relations manage the books and the press. Meteorologists, chemists, physicists, and biologists analyze data and doctors monitor the health of the astronauts. As preparations are underway, photographers and writers record the events.

While we’ve only been exploring space for less than 60 years, we continue to learn so much. Imagine all the roles in space you can fill. While we’ve named a few here, how many more careers can you name? Do you know which one is yours?

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalSpaceDay

Teachers, students, space-related organizations, groups, and agencies hold celebrations, demonstrations, and educational programs each year. The day has grown rapidly in recent years and is celebrated worldwide as International Space Day. Join an event near you. Other ways to celebrate include:

Build a model rocket and launch it.

Watch your favorite launch. Is it the Hubble Space Telescope, Apollo 11, or SpaceX Falcon 9?

Look for the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth.

Get involved by sharing your knowledge and skills, too! Host an event and share your experiences. Share your favorite space pictures using #NationalSpaceDay


In 1997, Lockheed Martin Corporation created National Space Day as a one-day event. In 2001, due to its extreme popularity, former astronaut and senator John Glenn expanded Space Day to International Space Day.