Between two storms: Caribbean braces for hurricanes in coronavirus era

By Sarah Marsh and Rodrigo Campos

HAVANA/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ken Hutton is worried Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas where he lives is far from rebuilt after being devastated by Hurricane Dorian last year yet he is bracing for another hurricane season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The business consultant feels lucky to have survived Dorian, which tore the hurricane shutters off his house and sucked out the windows.

Yet there is still no running water or power in his area – he relies on a generator and a well – and many of the organizations that had been helping to rebuild suspended work because of the pandemic.

“We are still in no position to be ready for another hurricane,” he told Reuters Tuesday. Already, the Caribbean has been hit by two tropical storms before the official start of the hurricane season on June 1, one of which started right over the Bahamas, Hutton added.

“There are lots of people walking around here now with post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said.

Hurricane Dorian caused $3.4 billion in damages – more than a quarter of the annual output of the Bahamas or the equivalent of the United States losing the combined outputs of California, Texas and Florida, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.

Across the Caribbean, island nations are now facing the double whammy of a hurricane season forecast to be more active than usual combined with a pandemic that has already drained public coffers and leveled tourism, one of its top earners.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week forecast 13-19 named storms this year, following 18 named storms last year and 15 in 2018, both above the average of 12.

But the Caribbean has used up much of the fiscal buffers it would usually have readied to respond to hurricane season, Caribbean Development Bank President Warren Smith said.

Countries have tapped typical sources of external emergency financing, like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to respond to the coronavirus crisis, further limiting their funding options.

Meanwhile, new health protocols for hurricane season prep comes at an added cost. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has revised guidelines to prevent the virus’ spread, including social distancing, personal protective equipment and hand cleaning facilities in shelters, said CDEMA head Elizabeth Riley.

“We can’t put as many people into a shelter (with social distancing), which means we must have many more shelters available,” St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet told Reuters.

ECONOMIC STORM

Caribbean nations have had to absorb the high costs of managing virus outbreaks even as they have lost revenue from the stop in tourism caused by border closures and lockdowns, while also being forced to provide a welfare safety net to more people.

The economic outlook does not look set to improve any time soon, with the Caribbean facing a regional contraction of 6.2 % according to the IMF.

“Small island states rely heavily on tourism and remittances. Both are now at a standstill,” United Nations head Antonio Guterres said on Thursday. “Households that had a secure income are at imminent risk of poverty and hunger.”

He added that alleviating “crushing” debt “must be extended to all developing and middle-income countries” that request forbearance as they lose access to their main financial markets.

But it is not all doom and gloom. In Cuba, a meme went viral on social media in recent weeks appearing to present a duel for television airtime between the country’s chief epidemiologist and its most renowned weatherman as they cover the two crises.

The weatherman, Jose Rubiera, told Reuters much of what happens will depend on each storm’s route.

“One single hurricane can be devastating whereas you can have many that don’t hit,” he said. “It’s all very relative, but the one rule of thumb is to always be well prepared.”

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana and Rodrigo Campos in New York; Additional Reporting by Sarah Peter in Castries, St Lucia, Nelson Acosta in Havana and Karin Strohecker in London; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Aurora Ellis)

Tyson Foods will shut U.S. pork plant as more workers catch COVID-19

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Tyson Foods Inc said on Thursday it will temporarily close an Iowa pork plant due to the coronavirus pandemic, a month after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered slaughterhouses to stay open to protect the country’s food supply.

Meat processors like Tyson Foods, WH Group’s Smithfield Foods and JBS USA temporarily closed about 20 slaughterhouses last month as workers fell ill with the new coronavirus, leading to shortages of certain products in grocery stores. Production remains lower than normal because of increased absenteeism and social distancing among employees.

An Iowa state official said 555 employees at Tyson’s Storm Lake plant tested positive for the virus, about 22% of the workforce.

Tyson will stop slaughtering hogs at the facility and finish processing the animals over the next two days, according to a statement.

It will resume operations next week following “additional deep cleaning and sanitizing of the entire facility,” the statement said. The closure is due partly to a delay in COVID-19 testing results and employee absences, according to Tyson.

Tyson said it conducted large-scale COVID-19 testing at the plant in northwestern Iowa and implemented safety measures to protect employees like requiring them to wear masks.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union called on the Trump administration and meat companies to do more to protect workers. The union reported more than 3,000 infections and 44 deaths among U.S. meatpacking workers, up from 35 deaths as of May 12.

“Too many workers are being sent back into meatpacking plants without adequate protections in place, reigniting more outbreaks in the plants and our communities,” said Nick Nemec, a South Dakota farmer who is part of an advocacy group working with the union.

The Storm Lake plant slaughters about 17,250 pigs a day when it is running at full capacity, according to industry data. That accounted for about 3.5% of U.S. production before the pandemic.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Stephen Coates)

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now 5-29-20

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Hospitals slash use of hydroxychloroquine

U.S. hospitals said they have pulled way back on the use of hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as a COVID-19 treatment, after several studies suggested it is not effective and may pose significant risks.

Early hopes for the drug were based in part on lab tests and its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. But its efficacy has so far failed to pan out in human trials, and at least two studies suggest it may increase the risk of death.

China plans to extend flight curbs

Chinese civil aviation authorities plan to extend until June 30 their curbs on international flights to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the U.S. embassy in Beijing said in a travel advisory on Friday.

China has drastically cut such flights since March to allay concerns over infections brought by arriving passengers. A so-called “Five One” policy allows mainland carriers to fly just one flight a week on one route to any country and foreign airlines to operate just one flight a week to China.

Washington has accused Beijing of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China.

Fighting misinformation

It’s not just U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets that are being fact-checked.

Twitter has also flagged a tweet written in March by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian that suggested the U.S. military brought the novel coronavirus to China, posting a blue exclamation mark under it with a comment urging readers to check the facts about COVID-19.

Clicking on the link directed readers to a page with the headline, “WHO says evidence suggests COVID-19 originated in animals and was not produced in a lab”.

Closed climbing season

Nepal’s Sherpa guides, famed for being the backbone of mountain expeditions in the Himalayas, have also found their livelihood hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Many have returned to their villages, hiking officials say, as climbing and trekking activities have been suspended since March, and some are looking ahead with hope to the less popular autumn climbing season, which lasts from September to November.

Friday is the anniversary of the day Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa, and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary became the first people to climb the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) high Mount Everest in 1953.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Frances Kerry)

U.S. towns fear ‘devastation’ as coronavirus keeps tourists home

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – It’s late spring when Traverse City, Michigan should be planning its annual cherry festival, and the sounds of young racehorses should fill the air in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Small towns across America rely on summer tourism to stay solvent the rest of the year. But the coronavirus pandemic has chased visitors away, leaving residents and businesses unsure they can survive.

“Normally in May, we’d be in full swing,” said Sean Mackey, co-owner of the Magic Shuttle Bus in Traverse City that drives visitors to weddings and wineries.

“We would have all buses on the road, tours every single day of the week,” he said.

Instead, the company did no business over Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer, as wineries were off-limits to bus tours and groups of more than 10 people were banned.

The beginning of summer in states like Michigan, which have strict social distancing guidelines in place, contrasted sharply with crowds flocking to beaches in locations like South Carolina and New Jersey easing coronavirus-related restrictions.

The death toll in the United States from the novel coronavirus has topped 100,000, according to a Reuters tally.

Every U.S. state has phased reopenings underway, but the plans typically forbid large gatherings and limit restaurant and bar capacities that will sink some businesses, owners say.

In Maine, “already a number of businesses have closed down, and they’re not going to open up again,” said Jean Ginn Marvin, owner of the coastal Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport.

“The thing about seasonal businesses is they hold on by their fingernails anyway,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We were just about to open our doors and have a little cash flow again, and that didn’t happen.”

In the tiny Michigan tourist town of Lake Ann, where Mackey lives, “you have a party store, a little library, an ice cream parlor, a brewery and a post office and that’s it. You blink and you miss it.”

In the depths of uncertainty about the pandemic is the possibility of closing down altogether and hoping for better times ahead, Mackey said – almost like a year-long hibernation.

“If things got really bad, (businesses might) just close up for the season and try to put the bills on hold and open up going full swing next year,” he said.

Without the summer business, entire towns will suffer, residents said.

“When those businesses fold, what goes with them is the guy who plays the piano in the lobby and those teenagers that go there for their first job,” said Marvin. “So those kids aren’t going to have money for college.”

UNCERTAIN PLANS

The quiet is unsettling in upstate New York’s Saratoga Springs, where its historic track would normally be busy with young thoroughbreds in training, said Marianne Barker, who opened her gift store Impressions of Saratoga 42 years ago.

“That usually brings a pretty big influx of people. We’re not seeing that,” she said.

Summer plans for the Saratoga Race Course remain uncertain – one proposal calls for races without spectators – while another huge tourist draw, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, just canceled its summer season.

“Both of those combined will … completely cut down on tourist-related activities,” said Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan. “We are a tourism-dependent economy.”

The two venues draw some 1.5 million people each summer, according to industry figures.

Plunging tax revenues will leave the city up to $16 million short this year, Madigan said, and without federal aid, “it’s going to be devastation, not just here but everywhere.”

Saratoga Spring is looking at short-term borrowing of about $6 million, Madigan added, but as a one-time boost.

“We can’t just keep borrowing our way out of this,” she said. “I think local governments are your next big wave of layoffs.”

Layoffs in the United States hit a record high of 11.4 million in March, the nation’s worst job shortage since the Great Depression.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Earlier this month the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $3 trillion relief measure, dubbed the Heroes Act, with provisions aimed at helping state and local governments.

The relief bill has been criticized as a “liberal wish list” by Republicans who vowed to block it in the Senate, and President Donald Trump has promised to veto it.

As places like Saratoga Springs deplete their savings, “2021 looks even bleaker,” Madigan said.

“I don’t know when we’re ever going to get back to a situation where we see revenues like they were pre-COVID. How comfortable are people going to feel going out?” she said.

Hopefully soon, said Michigan State Sen. Ed McBroom, a Republican whose district includes the rural, tourist-reliant Upper Peninsula, among the state’s first regions to reopen.

“There’s going to be people who are afraid until they see other people out and about,” he said in a phone interview.

“So if other folks get out and about and nothing bad happens, then I think suddenly things could really pick up in a hurry.”

Tourism accounts for seven in 10 jobs in the Upper Peninsula’s northernmost Keweenaw County which juts into Lake Superior, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

In Maine, some hospitality and retail industry groups have asked the governor to relax plans for a required 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors; dozens of other small businesses responded with a letter in support of the quarantine.

A similar split is evident in Michigan, said Tom Nemacheck, who heads the Upper Peninsula Travel & Recreation Association.

“Those are the two camps that we’re keeping an eye on,” he said.

“The businesses that are so desperate that they want visitors no matter what because they’re going bankrupt, and then … some of the other people in the community are nervous about getting visitors.”

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Zoe Tabary. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

A pandemic nurse’s love letter to New York

By Shannon Stapleton and Clare Baldwin

NEOSHO, Mo. (Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic has restricted almost everyone’s freedoms in America but for Meghan Lindsey it has done the opposite. This is the freest she has ever felt.

Traveling to New York City at age 33 to work as a COVID-19 nurse was the first time that Meghan, a married mother of two, had ever left southwest Missouri.

“It was my first time on a plane,” she said, describing how she came to work 12-hour shifts in the intensive care unit at NYU Winthrop Hospital.

“Flying into New York was the first time I’d ever seen the ocean.”

There are many stories about the lonely coronavirus deaths in the city’s hospitals and the traumatic work of the nurses who staff them.

Meghan’s story is about unexpected opportunities. It’s a story of how the pandemic gave a woman the chance to strike out into the world, confront danger and make a difference, and how her husband stayed home to care for their daughters. It’s a story about new beginnings.

“I always wanted to do something for my country,” said Meghan. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something meaningful.”

Meghan’s first nursing shifts in New York were a shock.

There are a lot of sick people in Missouri with chronic diseases like diabetes, where the progressions are slow and the declines are familiar.

COVID-19 patients are stunned by a virus that turns their lives upside down and in many cases ends them.

“One of my patients had her toes done up all nice and pretty and still had her jewelry on,” said Meghan.

Because they were coronavirus patients and visitors were banned, it was Meghan who would hold their hands as they died.

“Once you FaceTime and you meet their family and you hear them crying and sobbing, you know their cute little nicknames and you start to know them, it just gets to be really personal,” said Meghan. “You have a hard time separating yourself and not truly grieving for them as well.”

Despite all of the death, Meghan’s time in New York City’s COVID-19 wards was unexpectedly affirming. The pandemic gave Meghan something that her life in Missouri so far had not: a feeling of everything sliding into place.

When Meghan graduated from nursing school, it wasn’t like she imagined. It turned out to be just a job. She mourned.

“Now for once, it’s actually something important,” said Meghan. “This is the first time since I’ve become a nurse that it’s like, ‘yes, this is why.’ I can make a difference, and I can help, and I am strong enough for this.”

Her kids, she said, are proud. “They know that what I’m doing is hard and that I put my life in danger.”

Meghan is from a small town in Missouri. Most Sundays, she goes to church. Her mom was a manager at Walmart and her dad worked construction. Before he lost his job to the pandemic, her husband Aaron sold fire suppression systems to small businesses.

Meghan is the first in her family to finish college and has long held her family together. As thrilling as it was to be in New York, it was also hard.

Meghan often wondered if she should come home. Her husband Aaron told her no. He and the girls were fine, what she was doing mattered and he was proud of her. He sometimes called her superwoman.

“If he wasn’t such a good dad and there for my children, I could never do this,” said Meghan. He deserves credit too, she said, “but I guess you could say the limelight’s on me.”

Being a COVID-19 travel nurse isn’t glamorous. Meghan had to wear protective gear during her shifts and there was a lengthy decontamination process when she got home each night. She lived in a hotel room with another nurse and had to find a laundromat every few days to wash her scrubs.

But sometimes it did feel like a grand adventure. She saw the Statue of Liberty. She heard someone speaking Russian. She learned how to fold a slice of pizza.

Restaurants sometimes gave her and her friends free food “because we’re nurses,” she said with a bit of awe. She took selfie after selfie standing in the middle of empty New York City streets and no cabbies honked at her.

Her husband Aaron said he was sometimes a little jealous (it’s New York), occasionally worried (again, New York), but mostly he was just really proud. “Meghan hasn’t been out there in the world,” he said. She nailed it.

Now, at the end of her contract, Meghan is unsure of what the future holds.

She is back in a small town in the Midwest. She no longer has a job and she is coming off the biggest high of her life. She sometimes asks herself, will I have the desire to go back to this life?

Something about New York stood out to her: people there had aspirations to make something of themselves.

(Reporting by Shannon Stapleton and Clare Baldwin; Editing by Kieran Murray and Lisa Shumaker)

Gilead study shows shorter five-day course of remdesivir works as well as 10-day one

By Deena Beasley

(Reuters) – Gilead Sciences Inc, which has suggested that a shorter treatment duration could extend limited supplies of its drug remdesivir, on Wednesday published results of a study showing no significant difference in outcomes between 5- and 10-day courses of the drug for patients with severe COVID-19.

Gilead announced “top-line” findings from the trial on April 29. The full results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Gilead’s trial involved 397 patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19, most of whom were not on ventilators. The company said the study, which did not include a placebo comparison, showed that 14 days after treatment with the intravenous drug, 64% of patients treated for 5 days and 54% treated for 10 days showed some clinical improvement.

At the 14-day mark, 8% of patients in the 5-day group and 11% of patients in the 10-day group had died.

Gilead said the results should not be interpreted as indicating that the shorter duration worked better since evidence of improved outcomes occurred early on, leading investigators to attribute the difference to imbalances inpatient status at enrollment.

Adverse events included nausea and worsening respiratory failure. The company said 2.5% of patients in the 5-day group and 3.6% in the 10-day group discontinued treatment due to elevated liver enzymes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to remdesivir on May 1, citing results from a different study run by the National Institutes of Health showing that the drug reduced hospitalization stays by 31% compared to a placebo treatment.

Gilead has said it anticipates results from a company study of remdesivir in patients with more moderate COVID-19 around the end of this month.

Gilead has pledged to donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir – or enough to treat at least 140,000 patients – to fight the global pandemic.

(Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Factbox: Where states stand as U.S. reaches 100,000 coronavirus deaths

By Peter Szekely

(Reuters) – Less than four months after a 57-year-old California woman died and was later found to be the country’s first COVID-19 fatality, the coronavirus U.S. death toll topped 100,000 people on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally.

The grim milestone is by far the largest of any country, although by population, several Western European countries, led by Belgium, have much higher death rates.

The outbreak set off a patchwork of responses by the 50 states and the District of Columbia, some of which were hammered by the global pandemic while others were barely touched.

Initial actions ranged from sweeping business shutdowns and orders to shelter in place to less drastic guidance and regional closings. All states have loosened at least some restrictions in recent weeks, but still require or recommend precautions, such as social distancing or masks. Almost all states have ended in-class instruction at public schools for the academic year.

Below are summaries of how the states and the District of Columbia are coming back from the economic slowdown they orchestrated to combat the pandemic, based on Reuters reporting, a Reuters tally of infections and deaths as of Wednesday, and data compiled by the National Governors Association:

ALABAMA: 12 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 581. Total cases: 15,775. After its stay-at-home order expired at the end of April, the state moved to a “Safer at Home” order that urged residents to minimize travel and banned public gatherings unless social distancing can be maintained. The order was amended to continue until July 3. The state has allowed retail stores to operate at 50% of capacity, while restaurants, bars, gyms and some personal care services were allowed to reopen with restrictions. State beaches also were reopened.

ALASKA: 1 death per 100,000. Total deaths: 10. Total cases: 411. On May 8, the state entered the second phase of a five-step reopening process that allows offices, restaurants, swimming pools, personal care and other retail businesses to operate at 50% of capacity, and bars, gyms and theaters to operate at 25% of capacity. Social and religious gatherings are limited to 50 people with social distancing.

ARIZONA: 11 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 831. Total cases: 17,262. After the state’s stay-at-home order expired on May 15, bars, pools, gyms and ballparks without fans were allowed to reopen, though social distancing policies remain in place. Non-essential retailers, including barbershops, reopened on May 8 and dine-in service at restaurants reopened on May 11.

ARKANSAS: 4 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 119. Total cases: 6,180. The state responded to the outbreak in March with piecemeal measures, not a sweeping shutdown, and is now relaxing them. Restaurants were allowed to resume dine-in service at 33% capacity on May 11, personal service businesses, such as barbershops, were allowed to reopen on May 6, gyms were allowed to reopen on May 4. Large venues, such as movie theaters and sports arenas, were allowed to reopen on May 18, and restaurant bars could reopen on May 19, all with capacity limits. Since May 14, travelers from any international location, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey or New Orleans have been required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

CALIFORNIA: 10 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 3,824. Total cases: 99,769. The most populous U.S. state is in the second step of a four-stage reopening process after leading the country to close businesses and lockdown residents in March. The reopening is being phased in by county and business sector. Some statewide commerce is allowed, including curb-side retail sales and limited in-store shopping, manufacturing and office work. Some counties were permitted to open limited dine-in restaurant service, barbershops and hair salons. State beaches, bars, gyms and large venues, such as theaters, remain closed. On May 18, Governor Gavin Newsom said professional sports could return by early June under strict guidelines that include no fans.

COLORADO: 23 deaths per 100,000: Total deaths: 1,352. Total cases: 24,565. After a month-long “stay-at-home” order, the state moved to a looser “safer-at-home” order on April 27 that phases in activities, while still barring gatherings of 10 or more and requiring residents to stay within 10 miles (16 km) of home. On May 1, personal services, such as hair salons, and in-person shopping at non-critical stores resumed with restrictions. On May 4, commercial employers could have up to 50% of their employees on-site but were encouraged to have them work from home. Bars remain closed, but on Wednesday restaurants were allowed to resume seating customers, either outdoors or inside at 50% of capacity.

CONNECTICUT: 106 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 3,769. Total cases: 41,303. Two months after issuing a stay-home order, the state, among the country’s hardest hit, began loosening commercial restrictions on May 20. With restrictions, the new order allows offices to reopen, stores to allow onsite shopping and restaurants to offer outdoor table service. Unlike some neighboring states, Connecticut never closed manufacturing, construction or curbside retail service. Bars, gyms and personal service businesses remain closed. DELAWARE: 34 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 344. Total cases: 9,096. The state is gradually reopening the activities and businesses it shuttered on March 23 when residents were told to shelter in place, an order that has been extended to May 31. On May 8, most non-essential retailers were allowed to do curbside pickup sales, while several others, including hair care shops, were allowed to open for business with restrictions. Wider limited reopenings, including beaches, malls and restaurants and bars at 30% of capacity are set for June 1, although meeting facilities, sports venues and nail salons will remain closed.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: 62 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 445 Total cases: 8,406. Unlike most states that have moved to expand economic activity, the U.S. capital extended its stay-at-home order to June 8 because its efforts to curb the spread of the disease, had not met federal reopening guidelines. All but essential businesses, including grocery stores and restaurant take-out sales, remain closed. The district, among the country’s hardest-hit areas, was considering reopening parks.

FLORIDA: 11 deaths per 100,000: Total deaths: 2,319. Total cases: 52,634. The expiration of the state’s stay-at-home order on May 4 enabled most counties to reopen businesses, including retailers, dine-in restaurants, personal care services and gyms. Three heavily populated South Florida counties were slower to accept the reopenings, with Palm Beach, the home of U.S. President Donald Trump’s resort, joining a week later and Miami-Dade and Broward announcing some incremental reopenings afterward. The city of Miami Beach, which was hit hard by the virus, set its reopening of restaurant dining for May 25.

GEORGIA: 18 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 1,907. Total cases: 44,421. Georgia was the first state to emerge from lockdown as Governor Brian Kemp relaxed restrictions on April 24 over the objections of some local officials. The move allowed retail stores, dine-in restaurants, gyms and personal care businesses to open their doors, along with places of worship.

HAWAII: 1 death per 100,000. Total deaths: 17. Total cases: 643. The state, which relies heavily on tourism, requires all visitors arriving on the islands through June 30 to self-quarantine for 14 days. While the reopening of some businesses began on May 7, a stay-at-home order remains in effect through May 31. Retailers have been allowed to operate, except in Honolulu and Maui, and outdoor recreational facilities, including beaches, are open. More reopenings are expected on June 1.

IDAHO: 4 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 79. Total cases: 2,699. The state began its incremental reopening on May 1, the day after its stay-at-home order expired, by allowing places of worship to operate. Dine-in restaurants, gyms and personal care service businesses were allowed to open on May 16. More openings are expected on May 30.

ILLINOIS: 39 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 4,923. Total cases: 113,195. Illinois has taken only tentative steps away from the stay-at-home order Governor J.B. Pritzker issued in March. Since April, retail curbside sales and some manufacturing have been permitted, and state parks were opened. The stay-at-home order in place through May 29 bars non-essential travel, encourages work-from-home and restricts religious activities to gatherings of up to 10 people or drive-in services.

INDIANA: 30 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 2,030. Total cases: 32,437. Since May 4, the state has been phasing in the reopening of its economy in most regions, following the expiration of its March 23 stay-at-home order. The steps toward relaxation have allowed retailers and personal care services to do business, while restaurants and bars that serve food to could reopen their dining areas. Manufacturers, offices and places of worship also were free to operate.

IOWA: 15 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 490. Total cases: 18,360. One of a handful of states that did not issue a shutdown order, Iowa has been gradually unwinding the piecemeal restrictions it implemented in March but is keeping social distancing requirements. By May 15, all dine-in restaurants, gyms, hair salons and other personal service businesses were allowed to reopen. Large venue businesses, including theaters and zoos, were allowed to open on May 20, and bars were set to resume business on May 28. Gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned through May 27.

KANSAS: 6 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 205. Total cases: 9,337. The state has been in a phased reopening since May 4 when Governor Laura Kelly’s earlier stay-at-home order expired. Under the May order, retailers, offices, hair salons, gyms and restaurant dining areas were permitted to reopen, while bars and theaters remained closed. Further reopening steps are expected.

KENTUCKY: 9 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 394. Total cases: 8,951. The state is in the process of a phased-in reopening following a March 22 shutdown order. On May 11, manufacturing, construction and office workers were allowed to go back to their workplaces with restrictions. The reopenings also extended to horse racing tracks, including the state’s internationally known Churchill Downs, but without spectators. Limited reopenings at 33% of capacity were applied to retailers on May 20 and restaurants on May 22. Other targeted reopenings include personal care services on May 25 and gyms and movie theaters on June 1. Bars remain closed.

LOUISIANA: 58 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 2,722. Total cases: 38,497. With New Orleans among the areas hit hardest by the outbreak, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order on March 22, but began a gradual unwinding of it on May 15. The new order permits several businesses, including restaurant dining areas, shopping malls, salons and barber shops, places of worship, casinos, racetrack, gyms and most other businesses to operate at 25% of their customer capacity. Parks are also open.

MAINE: 6 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 81. Total cases: 2,137. Maine, which has had a stay-at-home order in effect since April 2, began a regionally phased-in reopening approach on May 1. Car washes and auto dealerships were allowed to operate statewide, but the reopening of other retailers and restaurant dining areas was limited to some rural counties. On May 19, Governor Janet Mills delayed the reopening of salons and gyms, but opened the state’s campgrounds in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

MARYLAND: 39 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 2,392. Total cases: 48,423. After shutting down the state on March 30 with a stay-at-home order that also banned gatherings of more than 10 people, Governor Larry Hogan began reopening commerce on May 15. The new order allowed a broad range of retail stores, drive-in movie theaters, personal care services, manufacturers and places of worship to reopen in much of the state. The initial reopening phase also covered beaches and campgrounds, but not dine-in restaurants and gyms. Some localities chose to remain closed.

MASSACHUSETTS: 94 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 6,473. Total cases: 93,693. Massachusetts, among the states hardest hit by pandemic, began to emerge from a March 23 stay-at-home order with a phased-in reopening on May 18. The new order by Governor Charlie Baker, the first in a series, allowed the resumption of manufacturing, construction and worship services. It also sets May 25 for the reopening of curbside retail sales, office buildings, salons, car washes and drive-in movie theaters. Bars, dine-in restaurants, gyms and personal care services remain closed.

MICHIGAN: 53 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 5,334. Total cases: 55,608. Michigan, scene of protests by groups of armed demonstrators calling for a resumption of commerce, has been one of the most locked-down states since March 24. It began relaxing restrictions by region on May 11 by allowing some retailers to do curbside sales. Another order allowed retailers and car dealerships to do business by appointment starting May 22. Some manufacturing, construction and restaurants also were allowed to resume operation in certain areas. The current stay-at-home order is set to expire after Thursday.

MINNESOTA: 16 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 942 Total cases: 22,464. The state has loosened its March shutdown order over the past few weeks, allowing manufacturing and office employees back to work, but requiring that workers who can work from home do so. Gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited, although drive-in gatherings are permitted. On May 17, Governor Tim Walz reopened parks and many recreation areas and allowed retailers and malls to open their doors while limiting customers to 50% of capacity. A planned reopening of bars and dine-in restaurants is set for June 1. Gyms and personal care services remain closed.

MISSISSIPPI: 22 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 670. Total cases: 14,044. A shelter-in-place order issued on April 3 lasted only a matter of weeks, before being loosened for a phased-in resumption of commerce, starting with retailers operating their stores at 50% of capacity. Since then, the reopening has extended to dine-in restaurants and bars, gyms, casinos, salons, barbershops and state parks.

MISSOURI: 11 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 696. Total cases: 12,492. After the expiration of a shelter-at-home order, restaurants were allowed to seat customers in their dining areas on May 4, and retailers were allowed to open their doors, but with limits ranging from 10% to 25% of customer capacity, depending on the size of the store. Also reopened were gyms, entertainment venues, personal care services and campgrounds. Manufacturing, construction and office employees were allowed to return to their workplaces.

MONTANA: 2 death per 100,000. Total deaths: 17. Total cases: 481. A phased-in business restart began on April 27, following the expiration of a March stay-at-home order. Allowed to reopen were retail stores, restaurants and bars, salons and barber shops, gyms and entertainment venues. Places of worship were also reopened. In early May, some public schools reopened their classrooms in Montana, one of the very few states to allow it.

NEBRASKA: 9 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 167. Total cases: 12,619. One of the few states not to issue a blanket stay-at-home order, Nebraska began to relax its limited, regionally varied “directed health measures” on May 4 with the resumption of elective surgeries. While Governor Pete Ricketts limited public gatherings and urged Nebraskans to stay home, construction, manufacturing and office work continued. Restaurants, which were restricted to takeout in some regions, were allowed to serve a limited number of dining patrons by May 11. Bars and large venue businesses were either operating with limited capacity or ordered to stay closed through May 31.

NEVADA: 13 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 396. Total cases: 8,114 While Las Vegas casinos remain closed, Nevada has been phasing in an economic restart after ordering a statewide shutdown in March. Starting on May 9, restaurants were allowed to seat guests, retailers could operate at 50% of capacity, barbershops and salons could serve customers and drive-in theaters could roll movies. The state’s legal brothels, gyms, and indoor malls are among the businesses still closed.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: 16 deaths per 100,000 Total deaths: 214. Total cases: 4,231. While the state’s March 27 stay-at-home order remains in effect at least through the end of May, some pockets of the economy have been allowed to restart. Starting in May, retailers were allowed to open their doors to customers at up to 50% of capacity. Gyms, barbershops and hair salons also could reopen, while restaurants could seat customers outside and drive-in movie theaters could operate. Construction workers were allowed to return to their jobs.

NEW JERSEY: 126 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 11,339. Total cases: 156,628. The country’s most dense state and one of the hardest hit by the outbreak is emerging from a sweeping March shutdown order incrementally. While bars and dine-in restaurant service remain closed, non-essential construction, curbside pickup for non-essential retailers and drive-in businesses resumed on May 18. Parks reopened in early May, and beaches were set to reopen on May 22. On Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy opened the way for the state’s professional sports teams to come back to train and compete.

NEW MEXICO: 15 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 325. Total cases: 7,130. With a March 24 stay-at-home order in effect until at least the end of May, New Mexico has taken limited steps to reopen its economy, though not in all regions. Retail stores were allowed to open at 25% of their customer capacities, places of worship, parks and golf courses have opened and offices were allowed to operate at 25% of capacity. Bars, restaurant dining areas, gyms and personal care services remain closed.

NEW YORK: 150 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 29,339. Total cases: 369,883. A strict March shutdown and stay-at-home order in the most severely affected U.S. state was slowly being lifted by region. Its reopening moves began in mid-May in several upstate areas that were largely unaffected by the surge of cases in the New York City area, and extended to areas along the Hudson River and Long Island on Tuesday and Wednesday, all with social distancing and other restrictions. Construction can resume and retailers may offer curbside pickup or open their doors with capacity limits in those areas. Drive-in movie theaters were among a handful of outdoor, low-risk businesses allowed to reopen statewide on May 15, and state beaches reopened for Memorial Day weekend. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday invited the state’s sports teams to come back to train and compete in empty arenas. Dine-in restaurants, bars and personal care services remain closed.

NORTH CAROLINA: 7 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 794. Total cases: 24,628. The state has moved incrementally to reopen its economy even as a March 30 stay-at-home order remained in effect through most of May. Starting on May 22, retail stores, restaurant dining areas and personal care services were allowed to operate at 50% of their customer capacity. Places of worship and some outdoor recreational areas were also reopened. Earlier in May, the beaches of the state’s Outer Banks were reopened to non-residents.

NORTH DAKOTA: 7 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 56. Total cases: 2,439. The state responded to the outbreak with “a low-mandate, high-compliance approach” that left the “vast majority” of its economy open, according to Governor Doug Burgum. March shutdowns of bars, dine-in restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and personal care services, were lifted on May 1 with distancing constraints. Banquet hall gatherings of up to 250 people were permitted on May 15, but sports arenas and entertainment venues remain closed. Most travelers from other countries must quarantine for 14 days.

OHIO: 17 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 2,044. Total cases: 33,439. The state is slowly unwinding a number shutdown orders it issued in March, including a March 22 stay-at-home order. Manufacturing, construction and office workers were allowed to return to their workplaces on May 4. Retailers could reopen in early May, but only for curbside pickup or by appointment, a limited number of customers at a time. Personal care services, including salons and barber shops, could reopen on May 15, and restaurants can serve customers in outdoor seating areas. On Tuesday, the state reopened fitness centers and a variety of sports and recreational facilities, ranging from batting cages to bowling alleys.

OKLAHOMA: 8 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 322. Total cases: 6,229. The state, among the few not to issue a sweeping statewide shutdown order, has undone the selective closings it ordered in March, which mostly affected businesses in counties where there was community spread of the disease. By May 15, dine-in restaurants, bars, personal care services, gyms, theaters, houses of worship and sports venues were allowed to reopen with social distancing and other restrictions. A “Safer at Home” order directs older residents and those with pre-existing conditions to limit travel. Travelers coming to Oklahoma from six severely infected states are required to quarantine for 14 days.

OREGON: 4 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 148. Total cases: 3,967. Oregon has taken a regional approach to reopen its economy after a number of shutdown orders, including one to “Stay Home, Save Lives,” were issued in March. Retail stores were allowed to reopen with restrictions earlier in May, while restaurant dining areas, gyms and personal care services in many parts of the state were also allowed to operate.

PENNSYLVANIA: 41 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 5,273. Total cases: 73,553. With an April 1 stay-at-home order in effect until at least June 4, the state has taken tentative steps to restart its economy in phases and by region. So far, construction workers have been allowed to return to their job sites, and retail stores have been allowed to reopen with restrictions in some counties. Bars, dine-in restaurants, gyms and personal care services remain closed.

RHODE ISLAND: 60 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 655. Total cases: 14,353. Since a stay-at-home order expired on May 8, Rhode Island has gradually reopened businesses sector by sector. Manufacturing, construction and office employees have been allowed to return to their workplaces. Retail stores were allowed to operate with restrictions, restaurants may seat customers in outdoor areas, and parks and golf courses are open. Bars and gyms remain closed, but plans are in place to allow fitness classes, salons and barbershops and indoor restaurant dining at 50% of capacity to resume on June 1. At least some beaches reopened on the May 25.

SOUTH CAROLINA: 9 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 446. Total cases: 10,416. After shutting down most businesses for a matter of weeks in late March and early April, the state has been allowing them to reopen, starting in late April. Retail stores, gyms, restaurant dining areas and salons and barbershops have been allowed to operate with restrictions. Zoos, amusement parks, museums and other attractions were set to reopen on May 22.

SOUTH DAKOTA: 6 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 54. Total cases: 4,710. The state did not shut down businesses or issue a stay-at-home order, but many businesses throughout the state, including meat packers, closed temporarily because of the outbreak. Governor Kristi Noem issued a “Back to Normal” plan on April 28 that offers guidance for business reopenings and encourages social distancing and other precautions.

TENNESSEE: 5 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 353. Total cases: 21,306. After closing businesses and ordering residents to stay home in late March and early April, Tennessee has started to reopen its economy, except in some regions. Dine-in restaurants, retail stores, gyms, personal care services and places of worship have been allowed to operate with restrictions. Bowling alleys and arcades also were allowed to reopen, but bars, theaters and sporting and entertainment venues remain closed. Office employees were allowed to return to their workplaces with restrictions.

TEXAS: 5 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 1,551. Total cases: 57,475. Since its stay-at-home order expired on April 30, Texas has reopened much of its economy by region. In most areas, retail stores, restaurant dining areas, shopping malls, movie theaters and personal care services were allowed to operate at 25% of capacity. Places of worship also have been allowed to operate with restrictions. Manufacturing and office workers were allowed to return to their workplaces. Starting on May 31, the state will allow professional sports to be played without spectators.

UTAH: 3 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 105. Total cases: 8,706. While the state did not issue a blanket shut-down order, some selected businesses were ordered closed locally in March, including personal care and dine-in restaurant services and movie theaters. A March 27 “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive from Governor Gary Herbert asks residents to stay home where possible and reminds businesses to comply with hygiene and distancing measures. Herbert has gradually lowered the state’s color-coded alert status from high-risk red, and declared most counties to be at low-risk yellow on May 16. The status permits the opening of all businesses, bars and dine-in restaurants with precautions.

VERMONT: 9 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 54. Total cases: 971. After the state’s stay-at-home order expired in mid-May, retail stores were allowed to operate with restrictions and state parks and golf courses could open. Public worshipping was limited to drive-in services and fitness center activity was restricted to outdoor classes. Manufacturing, construction and office employees were allowed to return to their workplaces. Bars, restaurant dining areas and personal care services remain closed.

VIRGINIA: 14 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 1,281. Total cases: 40,249. Although a March 30 stay-at-home order remains in effect, the state has phased in much of its economic reopening, except in the suburban areas surrounding Washington, D.C. Retailers and personal care services can operate with restrictions, restaurants and bars were allowed to offer outdoor seating and fitness centers were permitted to offer outdoor classes. Places of worship were allowed to operate, and campgrounds were reopened.

WASHINGTON: 14 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 1,078. Total cases: 20,181. In Washington, the first state to have a COVID-19 casualty, some counties have been allowed to reopen businesses even as a March 25 shutdown order remains in effect. The reopenings include retail sales, restaurant dining, personal care services and some fitness center activities, all with restrictions. In select counties, manufacturing, construction and office employees were allowed to return to their workplaces with restrictions. Parks and golf courses were reopened, and public worshipping is limited to drive-in services.

WEST VIRGINIA: 4 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 74. Total cases: 1,867. In West Virginia, among the last states to be hit by a coronavirus infection, businesses have been reopening since a stay-at-home order expired on May 3. The reopenings include restaurant dining areas at 50% of capacity, retail stores, personal care services and gyms, all with restrictions. State parks, campgrounds and drive-in movie theaters are also open. Bars, movie indoor movie theaters, playgrounds, zoos and bowling alleys are among the businesses that were still closed.

WISCONSIN: 9 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 539. Total cases: 16,462. After the state Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order on May 13, the pace of the state’s economic reopening was left to each locality. In what one restaurant trade group official called “a little bit of the Wild, Wild West,” some allowed bar and restaurant owners to open, while others kept their lockdowns in place.

WYOMING: 2 deaths per 100,000. Total deaths: 13. Total cases: 850. Although Wyoming was among a handful of states that did not issue sweeping shutdown orders, it closed select businesses on March 20, including bars, dine-in restaurants, theaters, personal care services and gyms. On March 25, Governor Mark Gordon urged residents to stay home whenever possible. The targeted shutdowns were rescinded on May 15 and the limit on public gatherings was expanded to 25 from 10.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

As coronavirus ‘storm cloud’ gathers, church in Missouri braces for mourning

By Makini Brice

(Reuters) – When Traci Blackmon, the senior pastor for a predominantly black church in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, is finally able to open the doors for service again, one of her main concerns is the collective sorrow her congregation will experience.

Five members of her 180-strong congregation have gotten sick from the coronavirus and two have died. Two others have died during lockdown due to other causes.

But because the doors of Christ the King United Church of Christ have been closed since the end of March to help stop the spread of the virus, members of the church have not been able to be together and console each other.

“It’s almost like a suspended grief,” said Pastor Blackmon. “It’s like when a storm cloud is hanging over and you know that it is going to rain, but it hasn’t fully rained yet.”

Protestant churches with predominantly African-American congregations has played a crucial role in U.S. history, forging historically black colleges and universities such as Morehouse College in Georgia, fueling the Civil Rights Movement, and serving as campaign stop mainstays for political candidates interested in appealing to black voters.

Many of these churches are now bracing to play a prominent role as the United States grieves for its coronavirus dead.

More than 98,000 people in the United States have lost their lives after battling COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and a disproportionate number of them have been black.

In Missouri, while only 11.8% of the state’s residents are black, they account for 37% of reported deaths from COVID-19, according to figures released by the Missouri Department of Health.

Similar racial disparities have appeared across the United States.

Black Americans are the most religious ethnic group in the country, with nearly half attending religious service at least once a week.

One of those faithful was Christ the King’s Eugene Young.

Young would drive his wife, Annie, who he married nearly 45 years ago, to and from church services in the St. Louis area every Sunday, she recalled recently in a telephone interview. He called her “Precious” and was always able to make her laugh. She called him “Sunshine.”

She described a “storybook romance,” with three sons she calls her “kings,” 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Young became sick from the coronavirus in April, though it remains unclear how he caught it. He died at the age of 61, on Easter Sunday, April 12.

“It’s so fresh for me. It’s still unbelievable to me,” Annie Young said.

Because of social distancing guidelines to stop the spread of the virus, Young’s family had a visitation at a funeral home, not the church, limited to ten people at a time. There was no touching or hugging to comfort family members. Everyone needed to wear a mask.

“My three kings and myself got to see him by ourselves, just the four of us, and we got to spend just a little while with him,” she recalled. “So that was our time to say goodbye.”

Christ the King’s congregation has been keeping in touch through the crisis through Zoom calls, Facebook live streams of sermons given from Blackmon’s dining room and Bible studies conducted over the phone, but it isn’t exactly the same, members say.

Wesley Hurt, 77, and his wife Linda joined the Christ the King congregation more than 40 years ago, and have continued to attend services online during the lockdown.

“The whole camaraderie thing is lost, to a certain extent. We are a church that likes to fix meals for each other and we do a lot of cooking. So we haven’t had that opportunity to meet and come together and have our church dinners like we’d normally have,” Hurt said.

Though Missouri allowed churches to reopen on May 4, Christ the King United Church of Christ remains closed. Blackmon said she remains cautious until she sees progress in a number of factors, including testing.

Blackmon had initially planned to hold an Easter service when people were able to safely sit in the pews again, no matter the date.

But she worries now that the celebratory holiday would ring false for people grappling with all that had been lost from the pandemic.

Instead, she is considering devoting the first service to Good Friday, the Christian holiday commemorating the death of Jesus.

“There are a lot of things you can do over Zoom and there are a lot of things that you can do on different channels of the Internet, but what you cannot do is feel,” she said.

(Reporting by Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons, Ed Tobin and Rosalba O’Brien)

Kudlow says Trump administration looking at ‘back to work bonus’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s administration is looking carefully at a potential “back to work bonus” to encourage Americans who had been laid off as the coronavirus pandemic spread to return to work.

Kudlow, speaking on Fox News Channel, also said he does not think Congress will approve another $600 per week in extra jobless benefits to laid-off workers in a future coronavirus relief legislation.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann, Lisa Lambert and Daphne Psaledakis)

Wilderness camps to $50,000 RV rentals: Luxury travelers in pandemic ready to pay for privacy

By Helen Coster

(Reuters) – Before the coronavirus pandemic, Melanie Burns and her husband between them had planned five trips between April and September, including three to Europe.

With only one still a possibility, the Oklahoma City resident is turning to a more reliable option: driving eight hours to the 550,000-acre Vermejo resort in Raton, New Mexico, where the couple can hike, fly fish and dine under the stars while avoiding other guests.

“We didn’t want a large property,” said Burns. “We didn’t want a hotel situation where there was daily housekeeping and you had to walk down a hall with rooms across from each other.”

As borders and much of the travel industry remained closed after the Memorial Day weekend, historically the start of the U.S. summer travel season, most Americans are staying put, with travel within the United States expected to plunge by over half a trillion dollars this year, a nearly 54% decline from 2019.

Even so, some cooped-up Americans are starting to think about stepping out. Nearly one-third of Americans would consider taking a vacation outside the home between now and the end summer, according to a study from The Points Guy, a U.S. travel website.

Some of the first to book trips will likely be those who can minimize their risk of exposure to the virus, with budgets that allow for more isolated and private forms of travel.

“There’s a redefining of what luxury means,” said Eliza Scott Harris, chief operating officer of Indagare, a members-only boutique travel company. “It’s less about the ‘wow’ factor of the design and more about the privacy you’re afforded.”

High-end travelers are upgrading to more self-contained transportation, resulting in a “huge uptick” in private air travel, according to Joanna Kuflik, director of travel services at Marchay, a membership-based luxury travel agency.

For those who prefer a road trip, luxury RVs are expected to be popular. Goss RV, which offers weeklong luxury RV rentals with a driver for up to $50,000 per week, saw a 62% increase in revenue from rentals compared to the same month last year, as of May 21.

Cities are less popular options and small, elite properties in remote destinations are in, according to industry experts.

The country’s wealthiest travelers are beginning to book U.S. properties like the Amangiri, a 600-acre, $3,000 per night resort in southern Utah, which reopened May 21 with employees who have been trained to perform spa treatments while wearing masks and gloves.

The Amangiri has bookings through July and beyond, according to a resort spokesperson, with clients coming from nearby California, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado at a time when flights remain limited. To enhance social distancing, the resort is limiting occupancy of its already-low room count of 34 suites.

Low density is a big draw.

“In a smaller boutique hotel or Airbnb you can trust that it’s a better-contained staff and a manager could be confident that 12 rooms could be cleaned very well, rather than 600 rooms,” said Kristin Peterson Edwards, an art consultant in Connecticut.

To attract more guests driving from San Francisco and Los Angeles – 11 and 10 hours away, respectively – the Lodge at Blue Sky in Wanship, Utah, may work with another outfitter to set up luxury camps in wilderness settings midway between the resort and those cities. The resort is reopening with limited occupancy on June 1, said general manager Joe Ogdie, who isn’t seeing a “major push of demand” yet, although he’s fielding inquiries about bookings.

On the international front, Indagare’s Harris said when borders reopen and international travel picks back up, many high-end travelers will head to New Zealand, which recorded just over 1,500 cases of coronavirus after imposing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. Based on bookings for late December and early 2021, the country is now for the first time her firm’s top foreign destination from a revenue standpoint, beating out Italy and France, Harris said.

For now, New Orleans resident Catherine Makk is not ready to fly and is instead planning a road trip with her daughter, possibly to Santa Fe, New Mexico. She’ll seek out small resorts where she can have more direct access to management, as well as experiences like private art tours.

“I think there will be more private one-on-one experiences with people in the region,” Makk said. “Everything will be much more relationship-based, much more considered.”

(Reporting by Helen Coster in New York; Editing by Kenneth Li and Leslie Adler)