FAA: Airlines report 500+ unruly flyers
WASHINGTON — Airlines have reported more than 500 cases involving unruly passengers since late December, and most started with passengers who refused to wear a face mask, federal officials said March 17.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it is reviewing more than 450 of the cases and has started enforcement action against about 20 people.
The FAA reported the figures shortly after it extended a “zero-tolerance” policy against unruly passengers on airline flights that includes fines and jail time.
“The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required,” FAA administrator Stephen Dickson said.
The tougher enforcement stance was due to expire at the end of this month, but the FAA announced Monday that it will stay in place as long as airline passengers are required to wear face masks. Airlines began requiring masks last year. The FAA, which resisted a federal requirement during the Trump administration, added its own mask mandate in January.
The FAA is seeking civil penalties against at least four passengers. The agency announced two new cases on Wednesday.
Amazon expands its US telehealth service
FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Amazon is making its first foray into providing health care services, announcing Wednesday that it will be offering its Amazon Care telemedicine program to employers nationwide.
Currently available to the company’s employees in Washington state, Amazon Care is an app that connects users virtually with doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses who can provide services and treatment over the phone 24 hours a day. In the Seattle area, it’s supplemented with in-person services such as pharmacy delivery and house-call services from nurses who can take blood work and provide similar services.
On Wednesday, the tech giant announced it will immediately expand the service to interested employers in Washington who want to purchase the service for their employees. By the summer, Amazon Care will expand nationally to all Amazon workers, and to private employers across the country who want to join.
Home construction in US skids in Feb.
WASHINGTON — Severe winter weather in much of the country pushed home construction down a sharp 10.3 percent in February while applications for new construction fell by 10.8%.
The decline pushed home and apartment construction down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,42 million units last month, compared to a rate of 1.58 million units in January when housing starts had fallen 5.1 percent, the Commerce Department reported March 17.
Even with the two months of declines, economists are optimistic that housing will bounce back in coming months, helped by ultra-low mortgage rates and rising demand by American who have been cooped up for the past year as the coronavirus pandemic rages.
However, even with the expected rebound, the growth in housing will likely slow from last year’s sizzling pace given a series of restraints from a lack of building lots to surging lumber prices.
Oxford Economics reports that random length lumber prices have more than tripled since last April. The National Association of Home Builders said the lumber price surge is adding $24,000 to the average price of a newly built home.
That may be playing out in the plans this year for homebuilders.
Swiss company to retain NC headquarters
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A company which has been a fixture in central North Carolina for years is staying put and keeping the jobs there.
Switzerland-based Syngenta Crop Protection said Tuesday it will keep its North American headquarters in west Greensboro and invest $68 million to redevelop and rebuild a significant portion of its campus, the News & Record of Greensboro reported.
The company, which has been discussing options for a new site since mid-2019, said its…