COVID-19 Impacts on Logan, MBTA, and Boston travel and tourism

stellarfun

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Starting February 2nd, all inbound flights from mainland China will be routed to one of seven airports; Logan isn't one of them. Only two of the airports are on the East Coast: JFK and ATL. Delta, United, and American are suspending all flights to China, Two of the carriers hope to resume operations at the end of March, Delta at the end of April. This disruption in travel routes as a result of this spreading virus has the potential for becoming worse before the situation improves.
 

whighlander

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The key is that so-far despite there now being 8 cases in the US and perhaps 100 people who are under some scrutiny:

  1. NO deaths amongst the US patients
  2. Only one case of human-human transmission -- a man in IL who got it from his wife

Now with virtually no direct flow of people from China -- everyone coming here will have to take some sort of circuitous route -- good chance they get detected somewhere else

So keep washing your hands and we should be fine
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I hope this isn't as long-duration a scare as the '03 SARS outbreak. The locus of that one was in Canada and it took a couple of years for the airlines to recover (that time even some lucrative biz shuttle routes to Toronto and Montreal saw the bottom fall out on their margins). Clobbered Amtrak border-crosser and VIA Rail Corridor ridership as well.

Economic impact wouldn't be too severe in the U.S. because there's very little market share in China transcontinental flights. The nasty impacts will be any repeat of the "SARS effect" on shorter-haul flights around Southeast Asia percolating up the chain in similar respect to Toronto/Montreal biz travel collapsing in '03 and ripple-effecting to every U.S. hub. Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, aftershocks in Australia, etc. We'll feel ripple effects come up from those places instead as they wipe hard from being in China's medium-haul backyard. The lesson we learned from SARS is that even when the epidemic passed and Canada was all-safe again the lingering effects were felt for at least two additional fiscal years before a much-delayed recovery started to gain any traction.
 

GeneseeJunction

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Starting February 2nd, all inbound flights from mainland China will be routed to one of seven airports; Logan isn't one of them. Only two of the airports are on the East Coast: JFK and ATL. Delta, United, and American are suspending all flights to China, Two of the carriers hope to resume operations at the end of March, Delta at the end of April. This disruption in travel routes as a result of this spreading virus has the potential for becoming worse before the situation improves.
Are there any ferry flights today to repatriate Chinese planes/pax back to China?

I just watched Hainan Airlines 482 depart KBOS for ZBAA. They're scheduled, according the FlightAware, to return tomorrow. Doesn't seem like the travel limitations are in affect yet.

han_428.png
 

GeneseeJunction

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Update: the travel ban went into effect @ 5:00pm ET on 2 Feb. Hainan landed two planes at Logan on 2 Feb (1:30p and 1:45p) and then got out of town just before the closure, with the above (pictured) flight departing at 4:10pm ET.

New article
 

JumboBuc

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Not necessarily Logan-specific, but what do airlines do with the planes that get freed up by an event like this? For US carriers, Delta, United, and American now presumably have dozens of available 777s/787s/etc that would typically be running routes back and forth to China. I know maintenance schedules are set up far in advance, so taking this opportunity to service those jets would probably screw up scheduling and availability for other planes.

Any chance someone like American (or Air Canada, etc.) will start flying available 787s on crowded transcontinental routes that were originally planned to fly the 737 MAX? Or would that not be worth the extra cost of flying the larger jets?
 

whighlander

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Not necessarily Logan-specific, but what do airlines do with the planes that get freed up by an event like this? For US carriers, Delta, United, and American now presumably have dozens of available 777s/787s/etc that would typically be running routes back and forth to China. I know maintenance schedules are set up far in advance, so taking this opportunity to service those jets would probably screw up scheduling and availability for other planes.

Any chance someone like American (or Air Canada, etc.) will start flying available 787s on crowded transcontinental routes that were originally planned to fly the 737 MAX? Or would that not be worth the extra cost of flying the larger jets?
Jumbo -- I think the airlines are assuming that things will return to near normal fairly soon. Since many of the schedules for the aircraft are developed months in advance -- to substitute very different aircraft for regular flights is probably not likely. The extra aircraft can however probably be made available on short-term basis to charter operators.

So-far the virus is still mostly concentrated in Hubei Province. 50 Million people in a sort of quarantine may sound extreme -- but remember that the other 1.2+ Billion people in China are as yet mostly unaffected. If it continues to increase only linearly as is the most recent behavior -- say over the next month that it gets to be 100,000 infections [its at 20,000 today] with even 2,000 deaths [currently 400] and stays localized to the Hubei area of China -- then things will return to basically normal by the first of April [Delta's schedule].

Of course -- the airlines might be wrong and the current increases in incidence of the Wuhan_coronavirus may continue until a lot of China and closely connected near-by countries have to deal with the virus on a major scale.
 

JumboBuc

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...then things will return to basically normal by the first of April [Delta's schedule].
Delta has already suspended all flights to China through April 30th.

No matter what the future of this virus holds, we already know that Delta's planes will be out of use for three months at a minimum.
 

whighlander

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The flu kills on average more people than this new virus.
Kingofsheba -- the Flu is a known quantity [albeit unknown in the details each season] and its also a coronavirus type of illness.

This new coronavirus disease -- Wuhan Fever for a good working term while so far very much limited to a relatively small [though being China quite populated] geographic region has an unknown potential to become a Pandemic [sounds scary but it just refers to essentially a globally distributed infectious disease] like SARS, MERS, Swine Flu, etc -- none of which were catastrophic. What is scary is that Wuhan Fever potentially could become a Pandemic like the so-called Spanish Flu which ravaged the world in the 1918-1920 period and then mysteriously as it arose -- it just disappeared*1.

But while it was active it infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet's population. With a relatively high mortality rate even for young healthy adults -- before it ended it had killed an estimated 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans. This was a death toll in excess of WWI.

*1
From the CDC

The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.
1918 Pandemic Video

Cdc-mediaLow Resolution Video

History of 1918 Flu Pandemic


Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic. While the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood.
 

DZH22

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The flu kills on average more people than this new virus.
But how do we really know this until the virus has run its course? I have been hearing this a lot lately, and it blows my mind how little logic there is behind it. As whighlander points out above, one is a known commodity. For all we know, coronavirus is still in its infancy. Hopefully that is NOT that case but it's new and we have no idea how much damage it will cause.
 

whighlander

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But how do we really know this until the virus has run its course? I have been hearing this a lot lately, and it blows my mind how little logic there is behind it. As whighlander points out above, one is a known commodity. For all we know, coronavirus is still in its infancy. Hopefully that is NOT that case but it's new and we have no idea how much damage it will cause.
DZH -- as the CDC piece on the Spanish Flu points out --- there were several seasons of the "almost same" variant of the H1N1 Flu -- and importantly -- the initial mild version in 1918 -- became the deadly 1919 Flu -- with no useful immunity conferred on the people who had it the year before

As numerous infectious disease people have said in the past few days -- the typical Flu keeps mixing the various A's and B's in such a way that the vaccines developed for next year are based on this year's flu variant. So you get your enhanced immunity [via the vaccine] essentially as if you had gotten that particular variant of the virus the year before. This generally works most years -- but sometime the new virus is not as closely related to the old flu virus and the effect of the vaccine then is minimal -- result a particularly "bad" flu season

The long and the short of it is that we really don't know how the Wuhan Feaver will behave. If the Wuhan virus peters out in the next couple of months as is typical with these coronaviruses -- it could come back with a greater level of lethality next season -- and might then become a Spanish-Flu level pandemic. Or -- it might just do what SARS and MERS did -- be a "one-hit-wonder" and not come back at all.
 

stellarfun

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whighlander, with respect to SARS and MERS, SARS was indeed extinguished because health officials were able to isolate the contagion. MERS is still an active coronavirus with a mortality rate of 30 percent. The animal host of MERS is camels, and apparently the primary mode of transmission is camel to human, not human to human. There are only 2500 cases of MERS between 2012 and the end of 2019.

Novel coronavirus Wuhan is easily spread human to human. Viruses such as these constantly evolve with time, they can become more or less virulent over the course of that evolution. If the Wuhan coronavirus retains a current mortality rate of about two percent, 50 million cases would mean one million deaths. That mortality rate exceeds typical flu mortality.
 

whighlander

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whighlander, with respect to SARS and MERS, SARS was indeed extinguished because health officials were able to isolate the contagion. MERS is still an active coronavirus with a mortality rate of 30 percent. The animal host of MERS is camels, and apparently the primary mode of transmission is camel to human, not human to human. There are only 2500 cases of MERS between 2012 and the end of 2019.

Novel coronavirus Wuhan is easily spread human to human. Viruses such as these constantly evolve with time, they can become more or less virulent over the course of that evolution. If the Wuhan coronavirus retains a current mortality rate of about two percent, 50 million cases would mean one million deaths. That mortality rate exceeds typical flu mortality.
Stellar -- we don't actually know how efficient human - human transmission is for the Wuhan Fever. It appears that the Wuhan Fever entered the human population much earlier than we have led to believe -- some evidence exists of Wuhan Fever being present in the Hubei Province area [suppressed by Official Chinese Sources] as early as early November 2019. If that is in fact the case there were probably many more sub-clinical cases never officially diagnosed or confused with ordinary flue. As a result there could have been both more human--human transmission and even more deaths connected to the infection.

Overall -- China does not have a Western-style CDC-analog good at keeping close tabs on infectious diseases. Nor does rural and some urban China have the number of GPs and other medical personnel at the "first contact" level. Hence its possible that we are only seeing a considerably distorted snapshot of how this particular conoronavirus has entered and spread into the human population.

What we do know now from the 43,000 Officially Diagnosed Cases [98% in China] is that:
  1. most people now get it from another infected person
  2. it seems to take between 1.5 and 2 weeks to go from infection to symptoms
  3. not clear how easy it is to transmit from an asymptomatic infected person to someone else previously unexposed
  4. recently the number of new cases while still increasing is not increasing any faster than linear
  5. most people who get it -- Do not die from Wuhan Fever --
    1. about 1000 have died from it -- mostly people with other medical problems
    2. almost all of the deaths are in China and localized to Hubei Province
    3. the mortality rate seems fairly constant over the past week at 2%
From the above its fairly suggestive that its not following the 1919 - 1920 version of the Spanish Flu -- and seems more like SARS [more total cases -- though less deadly]

However -- Its too early to say that it is doing the typical flu cycle of peaking in the worst of the Winter and then rapidly diminishing.
 

Wash

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Some folks I know on another message board have conjectured that the linear growth rate of the virus in China is a function of the limited number of testing kits available per unit of time.
 

stellarfun

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American has now cancelled flights to China through the end of April. This timeframe corresponds to Delta's earlier decision. American cited little demand for the flights in April. United is still resuming at the end of March, but is assessing the situation.

The virus is now officially called COVID-19, acronym for COrona VIrus Disease-2019

GENEVA (Reuters) - China’s coronavirus outbreak poses a “very grave threat for the rest of the world” and should be viewed as “Public Enemy Number 1”, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. ...

Tedros, speaking to reporters on Monday, referred to “some concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China”, citing cases this week in France and Britain. Five British nationals were diagnosed with the coronavirus in France, after staying in the same ski chalet with a person who had been in Singapore.

Chinese visitors are the largest group of foreign visitors to Boston, and their spending had a $616 million impact on the Boston economy in 2018.

 
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whighlander

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American has now cancelled flights to China through the end of April. This timeframe corresponds to Delta's earlier decision. American cited little demand for the flights in April. United is still resuming at the end of March, but is assessing the situation.

The virus is now officially called COVID-19, acronym for COrona VIrus Disease-2019



Chinese visitors are the largest group of foreign visitors to Boston, and their spending had a $616 million impact on the Boston economy in 2018.

Full Disclosure while doing my volunteer thing Sunday at the MOS I had a Chinese National visitor -- not from Wuhan -- but not from Shanghai or Beijing either [2 cities from which he could have flown non-stop to Boston] -- so given that people in UK have gotten the Wuhan from people who they apparently encountered in a Ski Chalet in France*1 -- Well time for more washing-up*2

*1
Five British nationals were diagnosed with the coronavirus in France, after staying in the same ski chalet with a person who had been in Singapore.
*2
Study: To slow an epidemic, focus on handwashing
Improving the rate of handwashing at just 10 major airports could significantly slow the spread of a viral disease, researchers estimate.Listen
David L. Chandler | MIT News Office
February 6, 2020
Press Inquiries
A new study estimates that improving the rates of handwashing by travelers passing through just 10 of the world’s leading airports could significantly reduce the spread of many infectious diseases. And the greater the improvement in people’s handwashing habits at airports, the more dramatic the effect on slowing the disease, the researchers found.
The findings, which deal with infectious diseases in general including the flu, were published in late December, just before the recent coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, but the study’s authors say that its results would apply to any such disease and are relevant to the current outbreak.
 

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