Coronavirus Special Report
January 1-8, 2021
Read all about it! The new year starts with more of the same: Coronavirus cases in the United States near 21 million and more than 345,000 350,000 355,000 360,000 365,000 367,000 have died. Canada and England make it even tougher to enter the country as other nations tighten Coronavirus restrictions. More travel shuts down. U.S. flying zigzags after a "huge" Christmas and New Year rush. And more. Read from the bottom for context.

Coronavirus Update for January 8, 2021

On another day when the United States smashed through one-day death toll records, some good news. Research shows the Pfizer vaccine should be effective against virus mutations. Here are today's other developments:
        Another red-letter day   There were 274,703 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Thursday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 4,085. It's the first time the daily death toll surpassed the 4,000 mark.
        Slowdown   The TSA says that 771,734 people passed through airport checkpoints yesterday. That's 37.9% of 2020 volume.
        WestJet shrinks   Canadian carrier WestJet is cutting 30% of its February and March capacity, complaining that Canada's new testing rules for travelers are decreasing passenger demand.
        The dirty dozen   More than a dozen passengers flying Alaska Airlines yesterday between Washington/Dulles and Seattle may be banned by the carrier for being rowdy and not wearing masks. Seattle television station KIRO 7 has the details.
        English test   England now requires all travelers entering the country have a negative virus test within 72 hours prior to arrival. This is atop existing restrictions, including a mandatory quarantine. The details are here.
        Empty-room report   U.S. hotels reported average occupancy of 40.6% for the week ended January 2. The best-performing major market, according to lodging statisticians STR? Miami (69.2%). Worst-performing markets: Minneapolis/St. Paul (24.2%) and Boston (28.2%).
        November daze   Passenger traffic was down 70.3% globally during the month of November, according to IATA, the worldwide airline trade group. The estimate was based on RPKs, or revenue-passenger kilometers.

Coronavirus Update for January 7, 2021

Four people died yesterday in the Capitol riots yesterday. That's one-tenth of a percent of the number who died of Coronavirus yesterday. Here are today's other developments:
        A riot of death   There were 253,145 new Coronavirus cases in the United States yesterday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 3,865. That's another new one-day record, the second this week.
        Here comes the bust.   The TSA says that 665,855 people passed through airport checkpoints yesterday. That's 36.7% of 2020 volume, a nearly 20-point drop from Sunday and Monday.
        No Carnival for you   Three cruise lines owned by Carnival, the world's largest firm, will delay sailings into the spring. Carnival-branded cruises are off through March. Holland America cancelled sailings through April. Princess has suspended service through May.
        Quebec   is imposing sweeping Coronavirus restrictions beginning Saturday. A province-wide curfew will be in effect from 8pm to 5am. Grocery stores and depanneurs (convenience stores) must close at 7:30pm. Restaurants, gyms, theaters and other businesses must close although curbside pickup is permitted.
        The world turned upside down   Travel in the United Kingdom continued to shut down after the kingdom-wide Coronavirus lockdown took hold. National Express, the leading coach line, says bus service is closing Saturday nationwide. Service won't return before March. EasyJet and Ryanair have slashed flights by about half.
        Extinction awaits   Norwegian, the once-mighty transatlantic discounter, is virtually extinct. Flights on some local Europe routes carried 129,664 passengers in December. That is down 98% from Norwegian's traffic in December, 2019.

Coronavirus Update for January 6, 2021

Los Angeles has emerged as the new Coronavirus hotspot. ICU beds are full and ambulances have been instructed not to transport patients with little chance of survival. Oxygen is also in short supply. Here are today's other developments:
        The daily horror   There were 229,055 new Coronavirus cases in the United States yesterday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 3,775. That's a one-day record. Anyone notice?
        Another brick in the wall   The TSA says that 766,594 people passed through U.S. airport checkpoints yesterday. That's lowest raw total of the year so far and represents 42.4% of 2020 volume.
        Kingdom gone   As all four countries in the United Kingdom locked down again, services are shutting down, too. Two train lines connecting London and the Northeast of England--Hull and Grand Central--shut down starting Saturday. The Club Aspire lounge at Heathrow Airport closes tomorrow through February 15.
        The Grammy Awards   have been delayed to March 14 from January 31.
        Germany   has extended and tightened its nationwide lockdown. Schools, leisure and sporting facilities and non-essential shops will remain shut through to January 31. Residents in some areas will be banned from traveling beyond a 15-kilometer radius.
        Ireland   now demands a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival for all travelers.
        Not so fast ...   The Australian government says Qantas' decision to relaunch flights on July 1 has not been officially approved. "Decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian Government," said Transport Minister Michael McCormack. "International borders will be opened when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians."

Coronavirus Update for January 5, 2021

Book sales plummeted in the early days of the pandemic, much to the surprise of media observers. But they firmed up as 2020 wore on and rose noticeably by the end of the year. The New York Times has the details. Here are today's other developments:
        Slowly slowing   The TSA says that 1,080,346 people passed through U.S. airport checkpoints yesterday. That's the third day of the year with more than a million travelers, but its percentage of 2020 volume (48.9%) is nearly six points below the previous two days.
        The dead zone   There were 180,477 new Coronavirus cases in the United States yesterday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 1,903.
        The total toll   Europe skies had 55% fewer flights in 2020 than 2019, according to Eurocontrol, which operates the continent's air traffic control. That's 5 million flights compared to 11.1 million. The lowest day for flight operations? April 12, when just 2,099 flights operated. That was 92.8% below 2019.
        United kingdom   Just hours after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland was going back to full lockdown, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday said that England would do the same. People can only leave their homes to shop for essentials, work (if it cannot be done from home), exercise, go to a doctor or escape domestic abuse.
        Philippine Airlines   says travelers from third countries will no longer be permitted on the carrier's New York-Manila flights. The Manila Bulletin has the details.

Coronavirus Update for January 4, 2021

The first American health-care worker treated with the Pfizer vaccine received her second dose this morning. Meanwhile, Britain began distributing the Oxford/AstraZenica vaccine, the Western world's third version. Here are today's other developments:
        The big show   The TSA says 1,327,289 people passed through airport checkpoints yesterday. That's the highest one-day total since mid-March and 54.8% of 2020 volume, exactly the same as the performance in Saturday. More than 3 million flew over the end-of-holiday weekend.
        Weekend break   There were 210,479 new Coronavirus cases in the United States yesterday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 1,394. The weekend effect here--reporting is fragmentary and incomplete--is in full force.
        Qantas   has good news and bad news for Australia travelers. It delayed the relaunch of flights to Asia destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan until July 1. They'd been expected to restart on March 29. The good news? The airline thinks it can resume flights to the United States, London and other destinations on July 1 and has filed schedules. The only international service Qantas now runs is trans-Tasman flights to New Zealand.
        Scotland   is returning to a full lockdown for the first time since March. The stay-at-home rules include closing schools through the end of the month.
        Austria   is extending its lockdown through at least January 24.
        France   apparently will extend the closure of bars, cafés and restaurants beyond the planned reopening of January 20. Although takeaway and delivery is permitted, on-site dining has been barred since October 30.

Coronavirus Update for January 3, 2021

India has the second-highest case count (10 million) and third-highest death toll (150,000) in the world. So Indian authorities thought it was a great time to fully reopen the Taj Mahal. And, naturally, 20,000 people arrived on the first day. The Times of India has the details. Here are today's other developments:
        Sure, why not?   There were 299,087 new Coronavirus cases in the United States yesterday, says Johns Hopkins. That's a one-day record and comes just six weeks after the country first hit 100,000 new daily cases, a then-unthinkable number. The death toll: 2,398.
        Saturday surge   The TSA says 1,192,881 people passed through airport checkpoints yesterday. That's 54.8% of 2020 volume, a full 20 points better than New Year's Day traffic.
        The MAGA Frontier   Frontier Airlines had to offload a flight when customers wearing MAGA hats refused to wear masks, hurled racial epithets--and refused to disembark. Gary Leff's View From the Wing blog has the details.
        On the rocks   Just days after getting the news that Spain and Britain negotiated a post-Brexit free-passage exception for Gibraltar, the community of 34,000 has imposed its second virus lockdown. Residents must stay home except for essential shopping, exercise, work or medical needs. The latest lockdown will last at least two weeks.
        Why do travelers cross the road?   Brussels Midi Station, the city's main railroad terminal, now has a Covid testing facility across the street. International visitors from "red zone" nations must immediately be tested there. The The Brussels Times has the details.

Coronavirus Update for January 2, 2021

It looks like fewer than 3 million Americans were vaccinated against Covid-19 in 2020, far short of the Trump Administration's stated goal of 20 million. President Trump once wildly predicted 100 million doses would be manufactured by the end of the year. Needless to say, that was another baseless claim. Here are today's other developments:
        The only respite ...   There were 160,606 new Coronavirus cases in the United States yesterday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 2,051. This "respite" from even worse numbers was brought to you by the weekend, when reporting is fragmentary and incomplete.
        Slowing down slowly ...   The TSA says 805,990 people passed through airport checkpoints on New Year's Day. It's the lowest count since Christmas Day and 34.8% of January 1, 2020's volume.
        Tahoe theatrics   Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas are fretting because Californians are flowing in to ski despite Covid restrictions. The Guardian via Yahoo!News has the details.
        Hotel hijinks   Omni Hotels has been shrinking during the pandemic, but the chain's wealthy owner may be playing games with CARES Act PPP funds he obtained. NPR has the details.
        Eaten by the bear   The S&P ended 2020 up about 16%. The Dow was up around 7%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped more than 43%. U.S. airline stocks? Not so much. According to Leslie Josephs of CNBC, American plunged 45%, United Airlines fell 51%, Delta dropped 31%, Southwest dropped 14%, Alaska fell 23%, JetBlue tumbled 22% and Spirit plunged 39%. The only winner: Allegiant (up 9%).

Coronavirus Update for January 1, 2021

More than 2,900 healthcare workers in the United States have died of COVID-19 during the pandemic, according to an analysis by Kaiser Health News and The Guardian newspaper. Here are today's other developments:
        Should auld acquaintance be forgot?  There were 227,315 new Coronavirus cases in the United States yesterday, says Johns Hopkins. The New Year's Eve death toll: 3,419.
        Slowly we turn ...  The TSA says that 874,406 people passed through airport checkpoints on New Year's Eve. It was the only day in the last six that did not pass a million people and may presage the inevitable slowdown in traffic that attends January and February, usually the slowest months of the year for travel.
        Canada   has added a testing requirement for anyone flying into the country. A negative PCR test taken no longer than 72 hours before departure will be required. The test does not replace a 14-day quarantine in place for arrivals. Proof of vaccination does not exempt the traveler from the negative-test requirement. The new layer of restrictions goes into effect on January 7. More details are here.
        This May not be good   Hotel occupancy fell to its lowest level since May during the week ended December 26, according to lodging statisticians STR. The 32.5% nationwide average was 33 points lower than a similar week in 2019.
        Taiwan   has banned transit passengers at Taipei or other airports on the island. The only exceptions are travelers from Greater China. Complete details are here.

2020 Daily Coronavirus Updates

We began day-by-day tracking of the Coronavirus' effect on travel in late January last year. You can see everything we posted in bullet-point form, grouped into weekly segments, by clicking 2020's archives.