A survey commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association shows that nearly three-quarters of Americans are unprepared for REAL ID, the new identification program that travelers will need to board a flight beginning October 1, 2020.
The survey, conducted by Longwoods International for the U.S. Travel Association, found that 72 percent of Americans either do not have a REAL ID license or are unsure if they do.
Moreover, more than half of the American public—57 percent—said they did not know about the deadline a year from now.
And while a passport is a permissible alternative to a REAL ID driver’s license, the study also found that 39 percent of Americans did not have acceptable forms of identification.
All told, 99 million Americans could be affected starting next October.
In fact, using the date from the survey, economists for the U.S. Travel Association found that if REAL ID standards were in place right now, at least 78,500 air travelers could be turned away at TSA checkpoints on the first day, costing the U.S. economy $40.3 million in lost travel-related spending.
If that trend sustained for a full week, the figures could grow to more than half a million (549,500) air travelers prevented from boarding planes and $282 million in lost travel spending.
“Our survey gave us the answer we didn’t want to hear: that there is alarming lack of awareness and preparedness a short year out from REAL ID going into full effect,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement. “This is significant not only because it will inconvenience travelers and create confusion at U.S. airports—it could do significant damage to our nation’s economy.”
To counter that possibility, the U.S. Travel Association has launched a broad education effort alongside the full spectrum of public- and private-sector travel stakeholders: airports, federal government agencies, tourism offices, and businesses that depend on American travelers.
For more information about REAL ID, additional findings from the study, policy recommendations and other resources, click here.
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WHO Says Coronavirus Risk ‘Very High’ Globally
The World Health Organization (WHO) has increased its risk assessment of the coronavirus to “very high” at a global level.
According to BBC.com, WHO’s health emergencies program executive director Dr. Mike Ryan said the agency is not trying to scare people by issuing the highest level of risk assessment in terms of spread and impact.
“This is a reality check for every government on the planet: Wake up! Get ready!” Ryan said in a statement. “This virus may be on its way and you need to be ready. You have a duty to your citizens; you have a duty to the world to be ready.”
The WHO is calling on governments around the world to take the coronavirus outbreak seriously and work hard to contain it within their borders and avoid “the worst of it.”
In addition to the confirmed cases in China, where the viral outbreak originated, at least 4,351 cases have been reported and confirmed across at least 48 countries, including 67 deaths as of Friday.
The WHO said Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Nigeria all reported their first confirmed cases Thursday, which were all connected to the outbreak in Italy. Officials said most cases of the viral infection have been traced to known contacts or clusters of cases.
The organization also recently revealed the number of new coronavirus cases outside China now exceeds those inside the country for the first time. WHO officials said countries must act “swiftly” and “aggressively” to contain the virus.
Earlier this week, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee said the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo in July could be canceled if the coronavirus outbreak shows no sign of dissipating.
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