Trump’s DC hotel raised prices to keep QAnon conspiracy theorists from booking rooms, according to a leaked police memo

trump hotel
Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.

A leaked internal police memo said former President Donald Trump’s Washington DC hotel raised prices on March 4 to keep QAnon conspiracy theorists away.

“MPD’s Intelligence Division confirmed with Trump Hotel management that they raised their rates as a security tactic to prevent protestors from booking rooms at their hotel should anyone travel to D.C.,” said a Metropolitan Police Department’s intelligence briefing, which was obtained by The Daily Dot and The Guardian.

Dated February 8, the memo included a reference to an Insider story published the day prior. Forbes reported room rates at the hotel had been increased for March 3-4. QAnon theorists had predicted Trump would retake the White House with an inauguration on March 4.

The memo said officers were told by management at Trump’s hotel that they didn’t have “any credible information regarding an event actually taking place on that date.”

Officers also had checked hotel reservations in the DC area, noting that they weren’t “showing any noticeable increase in hotel reservations for this timeframe,” according to the memo.

About 250 GB of data from the MPD was leaked this month after a ransomware attack. The data included documents detailing “Operation Stormbreaker,” a plan by right-wing militia group Boogaloo Boois to incite violence in Washington.

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When all the National Park Service campgrounds were already booked for the summer, I turned to Airbnb – here’s why I’ll gladly book an Airbnb campsite again

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Airbnb Camping Lead

  • Many federal and state campsites book up quickly for the popular summer season.
  • For a last-minute trip, I turned to Airbnb, which lists private campsites as well as home rentals.
  • Airbnb campsites are often more expensive than traditional ones, but are easy to find and book.

At the end of last summer, I knew I wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and scenery of my Pacific Northwest base before the autumn rains took hold of the skies. A friend recommended the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington’s Central Cascades, also known as the Enchantments. With sheer granite mountain peaks and turquoise-blue alpine lakes, it seemed like the perfect place to spend a few nights under the stars.

But I was hardly alone in my interest. Options to book a campsite on state booking sites like Recreation.gov were long gone.

Thankfully, as an experienced Airbnb user, I knew I could sort listings to look for campsites. The process was easy and I booked two nights at a campsite near Leavenworth for $83 per night, near the trailhead where my friends and I planned to hike.

While I paid more to book through Airbnb, it was well worth it for the added convenience, flexibility, and the ability to even find a last-minute campsite in my desired location.

Here’s what my experience was like, and what you should know if you’re considering camping through Airbnb.

Keep reading to see what it was like to camp through Airbnb.

Hotel Reviews banners How I chose my campsite
Airbnb Camping  - First Impression 1

I booked White Aspen Camping, a privately-owned campsite that lists seven campsites on Airbnb.

Each campsite has a capacity of between two and eight guests, so even when totally full, there would never be more than about 30 people on the property. 

It’s located on top of a mountain ridge with a spectacular view of the valleys below, and the area seemed pretty spacious. For $105 per night, we would also have access to running water and amenities like fire pits, picnic tables, garbage cans, and, most impressively, a flushing toilet. These would all have been absent from the federal and state sites I was considering.

The property also offers a glamping tent with luxury amenities like a propane grill, outdoor shower, and more, but my friends and I were fine to rough it.

We would be staying at one of the rustic campsites. We’d need to pitch our own tent and cook our own food but wouldn’t have to worry about taking out our trash and could use a shared restroom comfortably. 

What ultimately sold me on this Airbnb, however, were the views overlooking the mountains, particularly one extremely vibrant sunset photograph. Although it didn’t have many reviews, each one mentioned the spectacular view as the main selling point.

Some did warn that the site could be windy, being on the top of a ridge, but at the time that seemed like a worthy trade-off.

The listing advertised 673 private acres, which offered “thousands of miles” of trails, which I thought would be a nice option for additional hiking. The location was also perfectly poised to watch both the sunrise and sunset, which felt like getting a two-for-one deal.

1 Hotel Reviews Banner first impression
Airbnb Camping - First Impressions 3

Before my trip even began, I had to reschedule multiple times as a result of wildfire smoke. For this reason alone, I was especially glad to have booked through Airbnb. 

Unlike other campsite booking platforms, Airbnb was highly flexible and made it easy to reschedule and message the host. Not only was our host understanding, but she provided us with updates on smoke conditions, too. 

Had I booked a federal campsite, I would have simply lost my reservation. According to Recreation.gov’s refund policy, users may apply for a refund if the campsite was closed during wildfires, but it’s unclear whether smoke conditions would qualify for a full or partial refund.

Once my trip finally got going, I was equally impressed with my host. Since this campsite was located on private property, our host included driving instructions from the nearby town of Leavenworth to help navigate backcountry roads that seemingly led to the middle of nowhere.

The directions were clear and a sign advertising the campsite led us up the right road. But we didn’t have any cell service and it was raining heavily, which made the roads feel precarious.

In fact, a large puddle in the middle of the road seemed impassable. Thankfully, we were able to communicate our concern to the host, who offered to drive down to meet us and guide us through. 

She led us to the campsite where she explained how everything worked. As soon as we arrived, we were also happy to find that all our phones (T-Mobile) were able to pick up a 4G signal.

Hotel Reviews Banner Our Stay
Airbnb Camping - First Impression 2

The campsite was pristine and well-manicured with trails that wove between neighboring campsites, the bathroom, and the picnic area. The area for our tent was also very clean and we did not have to spend any time picking out rocks to make it flat.

There were multiple picnic areas and fire pits available where the views were the best, and many campsites were set behind trees to provide some shelter from strong gusts of wind.

Our host, who lived on the property, also offered to sell us firewood. It was easy to communicate with her and nice to know that someone was nearby in case of emergency.

Airbnb Camping - Our Stay 1

The location was superb with a spectacular view overlooking the valley and the sun setting over the mountains across the way. Although it was cloudy when we arrived, the fog lifted in a dramatic display of clouds that seemed to be flying right towards us.

During our stay, there were only two other groups. It was quite peaceful and secluded, but the whooshing wind did drown out most of the other natural sounds. Walking around the site, we didn’t once run into any other guests and even though we could see other tents, it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Airbnb Camping - Our Stay 2

We made good use of amenities like a water spigot, which came in handy for washing dishes, and the bathroom, which also provided shelter from the wind when we needed to get changed.

The picnic tables were wet, so we used our own camping chairs. Even though this location billed itself as a luxury campsite, we still needed to cook our own food and wash and dry our dishes. But provided trash cans meant we didn’t have to worry about taking the trash out with us.

Because our trip was rescheduled from its original dates, the site was a lot colder than expected. The wind conditions were extreme and it was very difficult to keep a fire lit. As a result, after one very cold night, we opted not to stay for a second and drove home early.

This, however, was a risk we expected and not our host’s fault.

Airbnb Camping - Our Stay 3

Despite our early check-out, I still believe that choosing an Airbnb campsite instead of a traditional one opened up a new world of camping possibilities. A mountain ridge like the one at White Aspen was a rare place to camp, even more so thanks to provided running water and amenities.

And because it was privately-owned with a host, it added a new element of hospitality to the experience. 

At the same time, there were several details I didn’t consider, such as road conditions, extreme weather, and how those may impact a location. Next time I camp through Airbnb, these are all things I will ask my host about. 

While Airbnb offers an easy booking process and many unique and rugged locations that experienced campers may enjoy, novice campers should be prepared to do plenty of research and ask a lot of questions before making plans to pack up the car and hit backcountry roads.

Hotel Reviews Banner COVID 19 policies

All Airbnb hosts are required to follow enhanced cleaning protocol, but since this was a campsite, the only things that needed to be sanitized were the bathrooms and picnic tables.

The campsite does host other people camping, but on the weekend I visited, it was mostly empty.

When we arrived, the bathroom appeared sparkling clean and felt safe to use. The irrigation system was impressive and the flushing toilet was probably the cleanest I’ve ever seen in a forest.

6 Hotel Reviews Banner What you need to know

Who stays here: This was kind of like glamping for people who are against glamping. Although White Aspen does offer a glamping tent on the property, their rustic campsites offered a standard camping experience with just a little bit of added comfort, i.e. running water and a bonafide flushing toilet.

We like: In a place this remote, I might have felt anxious about spending the night so far away from civilization. However, the knowledge that the host was living on-site, and only a message away felt reassuring.

We love: I won’t soon forget standing at 5,000 feet elevation and watching the clouds roll beneath my feet in an exclusive location that we pretty much had all to ourselves. It felt like a true rarity and a one-of-a-kind experience.

We think you should know: Airbnb is pricier than many other campsites. However, once you factor in the spectacular location, amenities, and on-site host, the price felt justified.

We’d do this differently next time: I would have asked for more information about the road conditions. 

7 Hotel Reviews Banner Bottom Line

By nature, camping trips are risky business. Our trip had a lot of obstacles and mishaps from smoked-out weekends, big puddles, and high winds. It wasn’t exactly the whimsical escape into nature I envisioned.

However, my choice to camp through Airbnb offered added flexibility, inventory, convenience, and amenities over booking through a traditional camping platform. 

If you’re considering a camping getaway, Airbnb is well worth a look to see if it fits within your needs and budget, especially if other major options are all booked up.

How to book an Airbnb campsite

To book your own Airbnb campsite, search by dates and location. Then under “More filters” scroll down to “Unique stays” and check the box for “Campsites” to filter listings to exclusively campgrounds.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A luxury DC wine bar is closing ahead of a once-in-a-decade swarm of trillions of ‘Brood X’ cicadas, which could be louder than a jet plane

cicada
  • Little Pearl, a luxury DC wine bar, is closing for a month during an upcoming, rare cicada swarm.
  • Trillions of “Brood X” cicadas emerge from the ground once every 17 years across the eastern US.
  • Little Pearl said the sound, which could be louder than a jet, would “ruin” people’s dining experience.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A luxury wine bar in Washington, DC, is closing for a month in anticipation of a giant swarm of trillions cicadas across the east coast, but other restaurants in the area are adamant they’ll stay open, according to a report by The Washington Post.

“We have decided to pause service at Little Pearl for 4 weeks starting May 10th in preparation for ‘Cicada Season,'” Little Pearl, a wine bar in the Capitol Hill area, told a customer who tried to get a reservation at the restaurant, per The Post.

Small numbers of cicadas appear in the eastern US every year – but occasionally, a giant swarm emerges from the ground. This year, cicadas known as “Brood X” are set to emerge from the soil to mate and then die across late May and early June. The happens just once every 17 years, which is the length of their lifecycle.

For the five to six weeks that they’re above ground, the live cicadas – and their crunchy, discarded exoskeletons – will be impossible to miss.

The swarm will hit the Northeast, including DC, Maryland, and New York, alongside parts of the Midwest and West Virginia, Dr Michael Raupp, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Maryland, told WJLA. In some areas, there will be 1.5 million cicadas per acre emerging from the ground, he said.

Read more: These 6 restaurant chains skyrocketed in growth during the pandemic and now are courting new franchisees. Here’s what it takes to open and run an El Pollo Loco, Jack in the Box, Noodles and Company, and others.

Male cicadas are known for their loud buzzing noise, which they make to attract females. Gene Kritsky, a biology professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio, previously told Insider that during the 2004 swarm a colony of Brood X cicadas made noises louder than the sound of a typical jet flying into Reagan National Airport.

Little Pearl told said in the email to the customer that “we know in good faith that a single 100 decibel cicada will ruin anyone’s dinner experience, a ‘tsunami’ of them will be impossible to control.”

The bar said the customer could reschedule, get a refund, or move the reservation to its sister restaurant.

Little Pearl told Washingtonian that it was also using cicada season as an opportunity to redecorate its restaurant and get prepared to reopen at a bigger capacity. “We are closing … in order to renovate, clean, reorganize, up-train, and get all our affairs in order as the pandemic caused so many disruptions,” the bar’s owner Aaron Silverman told the publication.

“It just so happens that this period of time falls during heavy cicada season, and roughly 80% of our current seating is outdoors in a heavily vegetative area (lots of trees, plants, etc) as we are in the garden of the Hill Center. This seemed like the best window to take advantage of.”

Other restaurants The Post spoke to said that they weren’t worried about the upcoming storm.

The owner of downtown Italian restaurant i Ricchi told the publication that it wasn’t “really affected” by the last storm, while L’Auberge Chez Francois’s owner said that it hadn’t been a “huge problem.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former Trump staffers are facing a ‘job desert’ in Washington after the Capitol siege

President Donald Trump signs the first of three Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, January 23, 2017.
President Donald Trump signs the first of three Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, January 23, 2017.

  • Many of Donald Trump’s ex-aides, including some Cabinet secretaries, are struggling to find new Washington jobs, The Washington Post reported.
  • Some, including former HUD Secretary Ben Carson and former adviser Stephen Miller, have opted to start their own organizations.
  • One Trump world insider told The Post he’s seen “many, many people” lose job offers following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Many of former President Donald Trump’s ex-aides who’ve decided to stick around in the swamp are having a hard time finding new gigs.

Ever since the January 6 siege of the Capitol by Trump loyalists, former administration of all levels, including Cabinet secretaries, are struggling to score the lucrative or prestigious Washington jobs they’d hoped would be waiting for them post-Trump, The Washington Post reported.

Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union who’s raked in millions lobbying the Trump White House, told The Post that former Trump staffers are radioactive in DC, at least for now. Schlapp said former President George W. Bush’s staffers faced a “jobs desert” after Bush left office as a deeply unpopular president, “but even that was nothing compared to what Trump/Pence people are finding themselves in today.”

He added, “If I had a dollar for every time someone in Washington said to me, hey, I’m really looking to hire someone for X job, but they can’t have worked for the Trump administration, I’d have a great sum of money.”

Armstrong Williams, a Trump world insider, told The Post that he’s seen “many, many people” lose job offers following the Capitol riot.

“I helped a very high-ranking Trump official secure a position, but after January 6th it was rescinded,” he said.

Higher-profile former Trump aides, including former HUD Secretary Ben Carson and former adviser Stephen Miller, have opted to start their own organizations since January. Carson has founded a conservative think tank called the American Cornerstone Institute and Miller is starting a group to work with Republican Attorneys General on suing President Joe Biden’s administration.

But other high-ranking former officials have fled Washington. Former White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly relocated her family to her home state of Arkansas in preparation for her bid for governor. Former Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen sold her DC home and moved out of town, The Post reported.

Still others, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former chief of staff John Kelly, and former National Security Adviser John Bolton, have publicly criticized the former president, particularly following the Capitol siege.

But it’s unclear how long the corporate and establishment distaste for Trump world will continue.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The atmosphere is grim at Trump’s deserted Washington DC hotel as the MAGA crowd skips town, says report

trump hotel
A view outside Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. one day before the inauguration of Trump on January 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.

  • Trump’s Washington hotel has suffered a loss of income and interest, a Guardian report says.
  • The hotel is bearing the brunt of the pandemic and the fallout of Trump’s election defeat.
  • The former president once dubbed it “one of the great hotels of the world.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Trump’s Washington DC hotel, which was once the bustling hub of the MAGA world, is now eerily empty after suffering a huge loss of income and status, according to a report by the Guardian.

The Trump International Hotel, which the former president once called “one of the greatest hotels of the world,” has been impacted heavily by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well as Trump’s departure from the White House two months ago.

When the hotel, located between the White House and the US Capitol, opened its doors four years ago, it quickly became a major draw for diplomats, lobbyists, Trump loyalists, and family members. The hotel’s steak restaurant was regularly fully booked, a former executive chef told CNN last month.

But since Trump left the White House and moved his base to the Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida, the atmosphere has been eerily quiet. One week after President Biden’s inauguration, the lobby was left largely vacant and waiters and staff members outnumbered the customers, the New York Times reported.

Sally Quinn, a local journalist who has written about the hotel, told the Guardian she “can’t imagine who goes there now.”

“We don’t even have tourists yet in Washington. I can’t imagine most people staying there when they come. I don’t know anybody who goes there or has gone there,” Quinn said.

Hotel staff has also confirmed that the number of visitors has dropped visibly.

One staffer, who did not want to be named, told CNN: “Since the coronavirus, we weren’t doing so bad until I’d say probably a month ago. It really, like, slowed down.”

Washington is currently in Phase Two of its reopening plan, according to a government website. This means that indoor restaurants and bars are allowed to be open but are only limited to 25% capacity. Hotels are also open.

But there is no doubt the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have hit the hotel industry brutally.

The Trump International Hotel made just $15.1m in revenue last year, a drop of more than 60% from the year before, the Guardian reported.

Hotel staff pretend they were supporters of the former president

capitol siege trump suporters
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.

Trump’s election loss and the January 6 Capitol insurrection, which happened only a few blocks away from the hotel, tainted its reputation further.

Last month, the Washingtonian reported that hotel employees at the Trump International had to pretend they were supporters of the former president, even though they weren’t.

According to the Washingtonian, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic triggered layoffs for all employees last year. But once shutdown restrictions lifted, workers said a new task became making sure Trump allies visiting the hotel – who often neglected public health guidelines – would wear a mask.

Asked about the hotel’s current occupancy and revenue numbers, Eric Trump, who runs day-to-day operations of the family real estate empire, praised the hotel in a statement without providing any specific figures.”Our location is unrivaled and we are incredibly proud to have the best hotel in our nation’s capital,” he said.

Trump reportedly tried to sell the hotel in 2019 for about $500m, but those plans are now said to be on hold. A room at the Washington DC hotel typically costs around $47 to $596 (£439) per night at this time of year, according to 1100 Pennsylvania.

Kevin Chaffee, the senior editor of Washington Life magazine, told the Guardian: “The Trump hotel has been struggling for quite a while and, without him being there, people don’t need to curry favor by staying there. Some embassies had their events there and they don’t need to do that now.”

He added: “The bar was like the White House mess but those people no longer have any reason to meet and try to find out what’s happening on the scene because the man is gone. So it must be like a ghost town.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest Airlines just announced 3 brand-new destinations in a continued low-cost leisure route expansion

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737.

  • Southwest Airlines is adding three new destinations to its route map in 2021.
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Bellingham, Washington; and Eugene, Oregon are slated to see new flights.
  • Routes from each airport are still unknown but the first flights plan to launch by the summer. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Southwest Airlines on Monday announced plans to serve three new destinations across the US later this year.

The low-cost carrier will soon serve Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Bellingham, Washington; and Eugene, Oregon in yet another pandemic-era expansion that follows the addition of Bozeman, Montana and Destin, Florida announced last month. 

Myrtle Beach will be the first city to see new flights, with CEO Gary Kelly saying in a statement that the destination aims to serve summer travelers and golfers, in particular. Golf bags count as one of the two complimentary bags that Southwest flyers can check, with the airline coining “golf bags fly free” as a play on one of its classic slogans, “bags fly free.”

The coastal Carolinian city adds to Southwest’s existing chain of destinations on the southeast Atlantic shoreline. Savannah, Georgia and Miami were was added to Southwest’s network in 2020 and the Myrtle Beach addition gives the carrier coverage at nearly every major airport on the Atlantic coast from South Carolina to south Florida. 

Bellingham, closer to Vancouver, Canada than Seattle, will then see flight in the second half of 2021 as it serves a cross-border market. Canadians frequently drive across the US border to catch flights to save on the taxes levied on international flights by the US and Canadian governments. 

“Following the reopening of the Canadian border, we expect a return of the value-minded travelers who already drive to this alternative airport to escape high fares and taxes-and that’s very, very typical for Southwest destinations,” Kelly said.

The US-Canada border is currently closed for non-essential travel, a pandemic-era policy nearing its one-year anniversary, but it may be reopened by the time Southwest starts service. US and Canadian officials renew the policy on a monthly basis and the accelerated vaccine rollout in the US may encourage reopening talks. 

Southwest joins the likes of Washington state’s hometown airline Alaska Airlines and ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air in serving Bellingham. 

Eugene will only be Southwest’s second destination in the Beaver State behind Portland, surrounded by national forests and within driving distance from Oregon’s Pacific coast and Crater Lake National Park. Southwest won’t be alone in the city as American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska, and Allegiant serve Eugene from cities around the US. 

Flights to Eugene are also slated for the second half of 2021. 

Routes have not yet been announced to any of the new cities but Southwest will likely offer service to nearby bases that offer connections across the country. For Bellingham and Eugene, that likely means flights to Denver, Dallas, Las Vegas, or Phoenix while Myrtle Beach might see service to Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, or Nashville, Tennessee. 

All routes will be flown by the airline’s Boeing 737 aircraft and will likely see the Boeing 737 Max. Southwest plans to resume flying the Max on March 11, the last airline in the US to do so behind American Airlines, United Airlines, and Alaska Airlines.

Two existing destinations – Steamboat Springs and Telluride in Colorado – will also have their seasonal flights extended through the summer. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Washington hospitals unknowingly bought 300,000 counterfeit N95 masks. At least 4 other states bought fakes too.

north dakota coronavirus
Nurse Dana Simmers dons a 3M N95 mask.

Healthcare workers in at least 40 hospitals across Washington state may have been using fake N95 masks since December.

Mask manufacturer 3M informed the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) on Friday that some respirator masks being bought and used by US hospitals were counterfeit. The Department of Homeland Security told WSHA in an email that it had “identified a vendor” that may have provided the hospital association with counterfeit 3M masks.

“It is reprehensible that counterfeiters are selling fake goods,” Cassie Sauer, president and CEO of WSHA said in a press release.

Federal investigators confirmed on Wednesday that in at least four other states, hospitals, medical facilities, and government agencies had also purchased fake masks, the Associated Press reported. The investigators did not name the states involved.

According to CNN, Sauer declined to name the distributor that sold WSHA the counterfeit masks, but she confirmed it was one the association had often used. The DHS email to the Washington association pinpointed a vendor named Q2 Solutions LLC, which the department said “may have provided WSHA with counterfeit 3M Model 1860 and 1860S N95 respirators.” A similar email about Q2 Solutions went to some other states as well, the AP reported.

WSHA bought and distributed 300,000 counterfeit masks to their 40 member hospitals for $1.4 million, NBC News reported. About 20% of those masks remain unused in warehouses, however.

Sauer told the Seattle Times that Washington hospitals statewide received, in total, 2 million fake N95s. It’s unclear, she added, if the hospitals or WSHA would get their money back. 

Fake masks ‘fooled everybody’

Counterfeit respirators “may not be capable of providing appropriate respiratory protection to workers,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following the Saturday announcement, hospitals across the state had to spend precious time and resources to identify, remove, and replace fake masks

FILE PHOTO: Various N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M, which has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra masks in response to the country's novel coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, U.S. March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi/File Photo
N95 masks at a 3M laboratory in Maplewood, Minnesota.

The fraudulent masks were quite convincing, and passed physical inspection and testing, according to the WSHA.

“They look, they fit, they breathe like a 3M mask,” Sauer told the Seattle Times. “They have fooled everybody.”

3M asked Washington state hospitals to submit samples of their N95 masks to the company’s fraud department for testing, and confirmed on Saturday that “at least some of the masks were not made by the company,” WSHA reported.

3M assigns lot numbers to groups of masks that are made and shipped together, but the company has identified dozens of lot numbers as counterfeit. Some masks with those false numbers are among the stock purchased by WSHA and other Washington state hospitals in December

It’s unclear whether the counterfeit masks function as well as authentic N95 masks. But Sauer said “there has been no increase in COVID cases from hospitals around the county where staff have been wearing these masks.”

N95 masks are highly coveted because they are the most protective face covering – the name refers to their minimum 95% efficiency at filtering aerosols. The masks seal tightly around the nose and mouth so that few viral particles can seep in or out, and they contain tangled fibers to catch airborne pathogens. That’s why they’re generally reserved for healthcare workers.

‘Distributors with no relationship to 3M’

n95 masks
A box of N95 face masks seen on April 3, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales.

3M has not disclosed how it discovered that fake versions of its masks were circulating in US hospitals. The manufacturer told CNN that the respirators in question weren’t authentic and had been “purchased from distributors with no relationship to 3M.”

“They’re coming from companies really just coming into existence,” Kevin Rhodes, 3M’s vice president and deputy general counsel, told the AP.

A medical supply company called Q2 Solutions, established in Guizhou, China, did not respond to Insider’s request for comment about whether it is the vendor named by DHS.

This isn’t the first time 3M has dealt with counterfeiters. It has filed 18 lawsuits related to illegal mask sales tactics, including reports of fraud and price-gauging.

US Customs and Border Protection has seized more than 12.7 million counterfeit masks since the pandemic began. A majority of those fakes were 3M knock-offs: Officials have confiscated 10 million counterfeit 3M masks, according to the AP.  

Read the original article on Business Insider

Washington state hospitals unknowingly bought 300,000 fake N95 masks for their healthcare workers

north dakota coronavirus
Nurse Dana Simmers dons a 3M N95 mask.

  • The Washington State Hospital Association unknowingly bought 300,000 counterfeit 3M masks in December.
  • The association distributed the fake masks to 40 hospitals, where healthcare workers used them.
  • The masks had the appropriate paperwork and passed physical inspection and testing.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Healthcare workers in at least 40 hospitals across Washington state may have been using fake N95 masks since December.

Mask manufacturer 3M informed the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) on Friday that some respirator masks being bought and used by US hospitals were counterfeit. The Department of Homeland Security told WSHA in an email that it had “identified a vendor” that may have provided the hospital association with counterfeit 3M masks.

“It is reprehensible that counterfeiters are selling fake goods,” Cassie Sauer, president and CEO of WSHA said in a press release.

CNN reported that Sauer declined to name the distributor that sold WSHA the counterfeit masks, but she confirmed it was one the association often used. The DHS email pinpointed a vendor named Q2 Solutions LLC, which the department said “may have provided WSHA with counterfeit 3M Model 1860 and 1860S N95 respirators.”

WSHA bought and distributed 300,000 counterfeit masks to their 40 member hospitals for $1.4 million, NBC News reported; about 20% of those masks remain unused in warehouses, however.

Sauer told the Seattle Times that Washington hospitals statewide received, in total, 2 million fake N95s. It’s unclear, she added, if the hospitals or WSHA would get their money back. 

Fake masks ‘fooled everybody’

Counterfeit respirators “may not be capable of providing appropriate respiratory protection to workers,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Following the Saturday announcement, hospitals across the state had to spend precious time and resources to identify, remove, and replace fake masks

FILE PHOTO: Various N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M, which has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra masks in response to the country's novel coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, U.S. March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi/File Photo
N95 masks at a 3M laboratory in Maplewood, Minnesota.

The fraudulent masks were quite convincing, and passed physical inspection and testing, according to the WSHA.

“They look, they fit, they breathe like a 3M mask,” Sauer told the Seattle Times. “They have fooled everybody.”

3M asked Washington state hospitals to submit samples of their N95 masks to the company’s fraud department for testing, and confirmed Saturday afternoon that “at least some of the masks were not made by the company,” WSHA reported.

3M assigns lot numbers to groups of masks that are made and shipped together, but the company has identified dozens of lot numbers as counterfeit. Some masks with those false numbers are among the stock purchased by WSHA and other Washington state hospitals in December

It’s unclear whether the counterfeit masks function as well as authentic N95 masks. But Sauer said “there has been no increase in COVID cases from hospitals around the county where staff have been wearing these masks.”

N95 masks are highly coveted because they are the most protective face covering – the name refers to their minimum 95% efficiency at filtering aerosols. The masks seal tightly around the nose and mouth so that few viral particles can seep in or out, and they contain tangled fibers to catch airborne pathogens. That’s why they’re generally reserved for healthcare workers.

‘Distributors with no relationship to 3M’

n95 masks
A box of N95 face masks seen on April 3, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales.

3M has not disclosed how it discovered that fake versions of its masks were circulating in US hospitals. The manufacturer told CNN that the respirators in question weren’t authentic and had been “purchased from distributors with no relationship to 3M.”

A medical supply company called Q2 Solutions, established in Guizhou, China, did not respond to Insider’s request for comment about whether it is the vendor named by DHS.

US Customs and Border Protection has seized more than 12.7 million counterfeit masks since the pandemic began.

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A Washington company is creating $5,000 prefab tiny homes that can be setup in 30 minutes to help solve the homelessness crisis – see how it works

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Shelter 64.

  • Pallet is building tiny homes for people who have lost their homes due to natural and personal disasters.
  • Like other tiny home makers, Pallet saw an uptick in popularity last year.
  • The tiny homes can be installed close to each other to create a community of Pallet units.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Expensive tiny homes have been in high demand since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, a tiny home maker specializing in personal units for the homeless has also seen a surge in interest.

Pallet, a social purpose company, creates shelters for people facing homelessness as a result of natural and personal disasters. These personal tiny homes can be set up in multiples to create small communities, allowing occupants to have safety and privacy away from larger community shelter buildings.

“What we felt was really missing from the housing spectrum was a dignified shelter option that honored their individuality and allowed them to have autonomy in their rehabilitation process,” Amy King, founder and CEO of Pallet, told Insider. 

Read more: How a formerly homeless sneakerhead with just $40 to his name built a multi-million dollar resale empire in 6 years

The company’s main customer base is municipalities, although it’s received orders from nonprofits, religious organizations, and people who own plots of land.

According to King, while the tiny home community concept has been present for some time now, it’s definitely become more of a trend as of late. 

Like other tiny home makers, Pallet first started seeing an uptick in interest in March 2020. However, when early October hit, municipalities started realizing they would need individual shelters for people without homes during COVID-19-plagued wintertime.

This realization then created a second wave of Pallet interest in the same year.

The units were initially designed to serve as shelters for people who had lost their homes due to natural disasters, such as fires.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Santa Cruz, California.

However, the company started opening its scope of potential occupants when homelessness began reaching a similar “disaster emergency level,” according to King.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Fresno, California.

Despite the potential to capitalize off of the tiny home boom, Pallet currently does not sell any of its units to one-off costumers looking for a backyard tiny home.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Santa Cruz, California.

“Right now, we are heavily focused on the humanitarian crisis in front of us,” King said. “We will not stop until homelessness has ended in this country, so that’s where we’re focusing our attention for the time being.”

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Shelter 64.

Last year, Pallet built over 1,500 new beds across the US. There are now Pallets in states like California, Minnesota, Texas, and Hawaii.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Pallet 100.

Source: Pallet

It took Pallet five or six different iterations before it settled on this final design.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Multnomah County.

Pallet offers two shelter sizes: the 64-square-foot Pallet 64, and the 100-square-foot Pallet 100. Prices start at $4,900 and $7,000, respectively.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Fresno, California.

The sleeping cabins consist of an aluminum frame and fiber-reinforced plastic composite walls.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Pallet factory.

These walls are insulated, but the home also comes with a heater and an air conditioner.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Pallet 100.

Like any home, the shelters are equipped with safety elements like a lockable door, a smoke detector, and a carbon monoxide monitor.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Santa Cruz, California.

The shelters can accommodate up to four beds with a folding bunk bed system, although the beds can optionally be replaced with desks.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Pallet 100.

In terms of storage, the tiny home has shelves and room for under-bed storage.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Shelter 64.

The structure can withstand up to 100 mile-per-hour winds and manage up to 25 pounds per square-foot of snow.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Multnomah County.

If that’s not enough, Pallet also has an “extreme weather” version originally developed for a Hood River, Oregon location.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Multnomah County.

However, none of the homes have bathrooms. This was intentional: the company wants its units to serve as “temporary stabilizing shelters” while its occupants wait for a more permanent option.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Multnomah County.

Also, plumbing is expensive and more difficult to maintain, which would have driven the tiny home’s price up.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Santa Cruz, California.

With that being said, Pallet is currently prototyping a bathroom and has previously trialed a community room. Looking forward, Pallet might test a kitchen facility as well.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Multnomah County.

The units have a lifespan of more than 10 years, but many people only reside in these tiny homes for months at a time.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Shelter 64.

The units are also easy to clean and sanitize in between occupants, which is key given the homelessness emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Pallet 100.

Unlike permanent “congregate” shelter options that could take years to build, Pallet’s prefabricated tiny homes can be setup in under 30 minutes, and a full village can be created within 10 days.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Multnomah County.

This allows Pallet to quickly and inexpensively address the homelessness crisis in the US.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Shelter 64.

While Pallet specializes in making individual shelters, the company recognizes the need for community shelters as well.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Santa Cruz, California.

“Unfortunately, the homelessness crisis in this country has escalated to a point that we need all products,” King said. “Each person needs something different, and we need to have a diversified opportunity for people to get their needs met.”

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Multnomah County.

Homelessness isn’t the only issue Pallet is tackling.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Santa Cruz, California.

The Washington-based company’s “social purpose” title means it serves as a combination between a for-profit and a non-profit organization.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Pallet 100.

As a result, profits made are put back into the company’s two main missions: stopping “unsheltered homelessness,” and creating a “nontraditional workforce.”

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Pallet 100.

To the latter point, 90% of Pallet’s employees have once faced addiction, incarceration, or homelessness.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Pallet factory.

Pallet offers these employees workforce and “life skills” training, which includes teaching them how to start a bank account or get an ID.

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
Pallet shelters in Santa Cruz, California.

Source: Pallet

“If we didn’t have them, I don’t think we’d be nearly [as successful],” King said. “They’re not just workers for us, they’re helping lead the concept here.”

pallet shelters tiny home homeless
The Pallet factory.

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Trump is planning to sneak away to Florida instead of attending the Biden inauguration, FAA data reveals

trump air force one
President Donald Trump boarding Air Force One.

  • President Donald Trump appears to be heading south to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida instead of attending Joe Biden’s inauguration. 
  • The Federal Aviation Administration issued temporary flight restrictions over the private club for January 20, indicating the president’s arrival.
  • One of Trump’s final tweets confirmed suspicions that he wouldn’t be at the Biden inauguration. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump appears to be traveling to a warmer climate instead of attending the inauguration of Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Flight restrictions were just issued for the skies above Palm Beach, Florida by the Federal Aviation Administration for January 20, indicating the president will head south on his last day in office and skip the traditional Capitol send-off by choppering out of Washington on Marine One. 

Palm Beach is home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private club; it’s become the winter White House during his administration – and his frequent retreat spot. Trump has spent 133 days at the club, according to an NBC News tracker, and has held summits there with world leaders there including Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump changed his address to Palm Beach in October 2019, the New York Times reported, and is said to be moving there permanently following his time in office

Read more: GOP kicks Trump to curb after deadly Capitol insurrection, leaving the president to fend for himself during his historic 2nd impeachment

The move is in line with one of the president’s final tweets from his personal Twitter account, where he stated in no uncertain terms that he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration. 

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump said in a now-hidden tweet. (Twitter suspended the president’s personal account on January 8 after the Capitol riots.)

The White House did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for confirmation of the president’s travel plans.

Protecting the president while traveling

The FAA issues what it calls temporary flight restrictions whenever the president and vice president leave Washington. Pilots are typically not allowed to fly within a few miles of the president’s location without authorization when the restrictions are in place. 

The new restrictions start at 10:45 a.m. on January 20, at which point pilots won’t be able to fly within 10 nautical miles and 18,000 feet of Palm Beach International Airport. The restrictions will expire at noon, when the president’s term ends. Mar-a-Lago sits mere feet from the approach path to the airport’s easterly runways. 

A separate flight restriction was issued for the skies directly above Mar-a-Lago, but they’re less stringent. From 11:30 a.m. on January 20 until 12:30 p.m. on January 21, pilots won’t be able to fly within 3 nautical miles and 3,000 feet of the club.

Local flight schools near Palm Beach have been languishing under the presidential airspace restrictions as general aviation aircraft on training flights are typically prohibited from operating within the restricted airspace or departing from airports below. Flight schools lose an estimated $30,000 on weekends when President Trump visits and $50,000 on long weekends, according to the Aircraft Owner’s and Pilot’s Association. 

Trump’s visits to Palm Beach became so frequent that the federal government began reimbursing flight schools for lost revenue. Aid in the amount of $3.5 million was included in a 2019 spending bill for general aviation operators affected by the president’s travels.

Trump has rarely left the White House in January, barring a few trips to Georgia on the campaign trail for Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, and a final visit to Texas.  A rare weekend trip to Camp David was planned for just two days after the US Capitol Building riots, a White House official confirmed to Insider, but the trip was later scrubbed. 

And while the transition of power will be peaceful, the president may not be going silently aboard Air Force One into his post-political life. A departure ceremony is reportedly being planned at Andrews Air Force Base for Trump, according to USA Today, with as much pomp and circumstance as the series finale of a television show. 

A color guard and 21-gun salute are on the agenda, USA Today reported.

Vice President Mike Pence, who had sparred with Trump in the days surrounding the Electoral College certification, is said to be attending the inauguration

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