Friday Afternoon Update: Feds Suggest Mask Mandates, Home Purchases Drop, Fauci Dodges The Press

This article is a companion piece to today’s Morning Wire Afternoon Update. To listen to the podcast version, click here.

Airline Travel Returns To Pre-Pandemic Levels, Still Below Record

If you’ve been traveling for Thanksgiving this week, you know that airline travel is back to pre-pandemic levels — but hasn’t quite hit 2019’s record of 2.9 million travelers on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The TSA is expecting to screen 2.5 million passengers a day across U.S. airports on the busiest days this week. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg celebrated the numbers.

“We are delighted that demand is returning like nobody thought possible with more and more passengers having the desire and the income to return to the skies,” Buttigieg said.

Mask Mandates Imminent? 

The Department of Health and Human Services is again saying that the American public should partake in masking and social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID and guard against “Long COVID.”

The new report, sponsored by HHS and conducted by research agency Coforma, suggested that these policies should be either strongly encouraged or even mandated while calling for expanded government programs that offer financial support and benefits for COVID victims.

Home Purchases Decreasing

Rising interest rates and high home prices have led to a 30% drop in home purchases by investors in the third quarter.

The reduction means fewer homes being built or restored for future buyers. Home purchases by investors fell from 94,000 in the same quarter last year to 66,000 this year. Also driving the trend is the slowing of rent growth from 13% to just 10%.

EU Sends More Money To Ukraine

As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault rages on, the European Union sent Ukraine another $2.5 billion in assistance on Tuesday. The EU is expected to approve another $18 billion in 2023. So far, the EU has sent $6.7 billion total to Ukraine for a variety of necessities and supplies.

Bye-Bye, Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s final White House press conference went sideways this week after a reporter asked a question about what Fauci has done to investigate the origins of COVID. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre shut down the question.

“We have a process here,” Jean-Pierre scolded. “I’m not calling out on people who yell. And you’re being … disrespectful to your colleagues, and you’re being disrespectful to our guest. I will not call on you if you yell, and also you’re taking time off the clock because Dr. Fauci has to leave in a couple of minutes.”

“Avatar” Sequel Coming Soon

The much-anticipated sequel to the 2009 box office hit “Avatar” is due to release December 16 and is projected to be one of, if not the most, expensive film ever produced. Director James Cameron has declined to state just how expensive the film’s budget was, but reports suggest that the production budget alone was $250 million.

Big College Football Weekend

And, in some sports news, the final weekend of the college football regular season promises some big rivalry matchups, including the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes versus the third-ranked Michigan Wolverines, and the seventh-ranked USC Trojans versus the 18th-ranked Fighting Irish. And, of course, my underrated Florida State Seminoles are facing off against the Florida Gators Friday evening.

To listen to the audio version of this podcast, click here. And for more in-depth discussion of the biggest stories of the day, listen to the latest full episode of Morning Wire every morning.

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