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PHILADELPHIA -- Ahead of what's expected to be the busiest travel week at Philadelphia International Airport since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, American Airlines showed off their new safety measures for customers and crew members on Tuesday.

The new safety measures start at the check-in counter.

Before travelers can print a boarding pass, they'll have to go through a health assessment.

In the terminal, certain seats are roped off for social distancing and the crew has a new message for anyone who wants to get on board: if you are unwilling to wear a face mask, you may be denied boarding.

On the plane, the crew has a new cleaning process that includes using a virus-killing electrostatic spray every week.

"It's really important that we get it right and I think what you've seen today are the various layers of security we have throughout the airport and the airport experience," said Jim Moses, the vice president of Northeast hubs for American Airlines.

Starting Wednesday, the airline says it will allow flights to be booked at 100% capacity, which means the middle seat will no longer be open.

"That was put in place long before we had the various layers of safety and security that we have in place today," said Moses.

The decision drew sharp criticism from Senator Bernie Sanders, who questioned the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci about the idea.

"I know as we've said and I've continued to repeat it that avoiding crowds, staying distant, and when in a situation like that, wear a mask. I think in the confines of an airplane that becomes even more problematic," said Fauci during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday.

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The airline thinks people should still feel safe. It says customers will have the option to switch flights for free if the plane is close to capacity.

While travel for the holiday week will be busy with 50,000 people expected to fly, that's still only about 30% compared to this week last year.

"We absolutely feel that they should feel safe," said Moses.

American Airlines also says it is doubling its average flights per day starting July 7 to about 207 daily departures. That's still only about half of the travel it was offering in 2019.

News Source: abc7chicago.com

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot to announce full safety plan for Fourth of July weekend in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- City officials are preparing for a historically violent weekend in Chicago.

With high temperatures predicted throughout the Fourth of July holiday weekend, police will likely have their hands full.

CPD has already said it plans to put around 1200 extra officers on the street starting Thursday night through Sunday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected to present the City's full holiday safety plan Thursday afternoon.

Police said the officers will be placed in hot spots prone to violence across the city.

Mayor Lightfoot said she is standing behind a decision by police superintendent David Brown to sweep young people off drug corners.

The mayor said gangs are putting kids out on the streets to do their dirty work.

The ACLU is criticizing the plan to sweep those corners but the Mayor Lightfoot is not changing her mind.

"If any civil liberties group has a problem with people who are killing our people over drug spots, let's have a conversation because you need to have your attitude readjusted," Lightfoot said.

Seven children under the age of 18 have been killed in shootings across the city in the last two weeks.

One-year-old Sincere Gaston was killed while riding in the car with his mother last weekend in the Englewood neighborhood. 10-year-old Lena Nunez was shot and killed while visiting her uncle's home in Logan Square Saturday night.

Mayor Lightfoot called on members of the community to step up and do their part to prevent violence as well.

"I need the moms on the block, I need the block club presidents, I need the members of the faith community, I need the people who are doing street intervention and I need families, I need families to do their part as well," Lightfoot implored.

Chicago saw a sharp rise in murders and shooting last month, raising more concerns about what could be ahead for the holiday weekend.

WATCH: Chicago shootings, murders spike in June 2020

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After a deadly June, Chicago is now on pace for over 750 murders in 2020.



After a deadly June, Chicago is now on pace for over 750 murders in 2020.

"The status quo obviously is not working," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. "I don't want to wake up again and hear more news of another child who lost their life to gun violence."

Through the end of June, murders in Chicago were up 34% from this point a year ago. Shootings have increased by 45%.

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