Coronavirus Special Report
February 5-12, 2021
Read all about it! More than 452,000 455,000 460,000 465,000 465,000 475,000 Americans have died. The TSA sets fines for violating federal transportation mask mandates, but states are again fighting over masking rules. Travel is in its February funk as the economic recovery stalls. There's little hope for an immediate rebound, either. Global hotel occupancy rates are atrocious. And more. Read from the bottom for context.

Coronavirus Update: Friday, February 12, 2021

The toll of Coronavirus on global economies continues apace. The United Kingdom said its 2020 GDP fell 9.9%, the worst decline on record. British GDP also was affected by its painful withdrawal from the European Union. Here are today's other developments:
        So much for our progress   There were 105,353 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Thursday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 3,877. Both numbers are the worst of the week. It also ends the short streak of days of sub-100,000 infections.
        Kisses For My President   The TSA says 1,034,514 people passed through airport checkpoints on Thursday. That's 42.8% of 2020 volume. It's the first day north of a million flyers since January 4. The reason? It's the beginning of the Valentine's Day/President's Day long weekend. And, yes, there was a 1964 Polly Bergen-Fred MacMurray movie called Kisses For My President.
        Not so super   Hotels in the United States registered an average occupancy of 40.9% for the week ended February 6, according to STR, the industry analysts. One bright spot: The Tampa/St. Petersburg market. It registered a 62.9% occupancy rate thanks to the Super Bowl on Sunday. Of course, hotel occupancy would have been near 100% in normal years.
        Air Canada   reported a C$3.77 billion operating loss in 2020 compared to a C$1.65 billion profit in 2019. Revenues in 2020 fell 70% compared to 2019.
        Lost lira   Revenue at state museums in Italy has fallen by three-quarters--to 60 million euro in 2020 from 240 million euro in 2019. Visitor counts fell by a similar percentage. Examples: Visitor totals dropped 85% in Pompeii, 80% at the Colosseum in Rome and 70% at the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.
        Uberhaupt nicht gut   Berlin's hotel occupancy rate in January was 12.1%. Not good at all.
        Australia   ordered an emergency five-day lockdown of Melbourne today (local time) after a few Coronavirus cases were discovered. The city of five million had been Covid-free for three months. The lockdown won't affect play at the Australian Open tennis tournament, but spectators are now barred and the athletes are restricted to a bubble.

Coronavirus Update: Thursday, February 11, 2021

The CDC says wearing two masks the proper way does help decrease the chance of Coronavirus spread. NPR has the details. Here are today's other developments:
        The high cost of progress   There were 94,704 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Wednesday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 3,364. It is encouraging that new infections remain below 100,000 a day, but the death toll is brutally high for that bit of progress.
        Higher hump day   The TSA says that 735,009 people passed through airport checkpoints on Wednesday. That's 36.1% of 2020 volume, the best Wednesday performance in several weeks. Hump day is usually one of the slowest travel days of the week.
        State of change   California, with 45,496 deaths, is the new Coronavirus epicenter in the United States. It has now passed New York (45,312 deaths), last year's epicenter. Notably, Texas (40,148 deaths) isn't far behind as the state continues its Trump-era reluctance to impose strict virus-control measures.
        Play ball   New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo says stadiums and performance venues can reopen beginning February 23. Strict social-separation and other measures must be used, however. The Brooklyn Nets promptly announced a game with fans in attendance for later this month and the New York Yankees will allow fans at the home opener on April 1.
        Hong Kong   continues to disappear as a global city. Hong Kong International Airport handled just 71,000 passengers in January. That's 98.8% down year-on-year, astounding since Hong Kong was already suffering from an economic decline and early Coronavirus issues last January. On a 12-month rolling basis, passenger traffic at HKIA has fallen 95.5%.
        Germany   has extended its national lockdown measures until March 7.

Coronavirus Update: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Heineken, the world's second-largest brewer, is cutting 8,000 jobs as the pandemic depresses beer sales. The Dutch beer group lost nearly US$250 million last year as key markets such as Mexico and Brazil were especially hard hit. Here are today's other developments:
        Just terrible, which is an improvement   There were 95,360 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Tuesday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 3,131. Although the death toll shot up, it's the third consecutive day with new infections below 100,000. Three percent of Americans are now fully vaccinated, Johns Hopkins adds.
        Blah   The TSA says 617,619 people passed through airport checkpoints on Tuesday. That's 34% of 2020 volume, right about where February is tracking.
        Believe it or not   U.S. intelligence says there's reason to doubt the virus information coming from WHO and China. WHO says don't trust U.S. intelligence. Agence France-Presse has the details.
        Nope   Los Angeles County has cancelled the LA County Fair for the second consecutive year. The event usually lasts 19 days at the Pomona Fairplex.
        Emirates Airline   says it no longer expects any rebound of international traffic until the end of the year. That is substantially more pessimistic than the carrier's previous predictions. Reuters has the gloomy details.

Coronavirus Update: Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The first sitting member of Congress has died from the Coronavirus. Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) had been hospitalized for two weeks before his death on Sunday, Feb. 6. He was 67 years old. Here are today's other developments:
        More hope   There were 89,727 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Monday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 1,596. Reminder: Monday numbers are often incomplete coming off a weekend, but this is the second consecutive day that new-case rates were below 100,000. Meanwhile, more than 42 million Americans have now received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.
        Manic Monday, relatively speaking   The TSA says 864,783 people passed through airport checkpoints on Monday. That's 39.9% of 2020 volume, the best Monday since the New Year rush.
        Transportation down   Just days after his installation as Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttegieg is quarantining for 14 days. He was exposed to a member of his security staff who tested positive for the Coronavirus.
        Moving up the reservation   Governor Andrew Cuomo is permitting indoor dining to resume in New York City on February 12, two days earlier than announced last week. Capacity will be limited to 25%.
        Blame Canada   Air Canada will end 17 more transborder and international routes, including flights from its Toronto hub to Washington/National, New York/LaGuardia. The airline blamed the Canadian government, which last week imposed a mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Canada.
        Singapore's parking problem  Singapore Airlines has a fleet of 185 passenger and cargo aircraft. Only 64 passenger planes and seven freighters are currently being used. About two dozen passenger aircraft have been converted for cargo-only service. The remainder of the fleet has been parked.

Coronavirus Update: Monday, February 8, 2021

The United Kingdom strain of Covid-19 is doubling every ten days in the United States, making it far more contagious than any other variant. The details are here. Here are today's other developments:
        Some hope   There were 88,044 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Sunday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 1,276. Weekend numbers are fragmentary and incomplete, of course, but it is the first time since November 2 that the new-case total fell below 100,000.
        Slow Sunday   The TSA says 854,636 people passed through airport checkpoints on Sunday. That's 38.4% of 2020 volume, the slowest Sunday of the year to date.
        Keep spreading out   Delta Air Lines says it will extend its empty-middle-seat policy until April 30. It is the only U.S. carrier still blocking seats to offer a semblance of in-flight social distancing. Delta's policy and specifics of blocking by aircraft type is here.
        June is busting out all over   Global aircraft seat capacity has fallen to 48.1 million per week. That's back to capacity levels reported at the end of last June. The statistics were compiled by OAG.
        Emirates errors   Dubai and the United Arab Emirates kept their doors open to visitors and now they're paying the price with a spike in cases. CNN has the details.

Coronavirus Update: Sunday, February 7, 2021

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. It is not only a celebration of American sports and gluttony, but this year it is also a chance for "mini-super-spreader" events. Health officials urge Americans not to hold parties with people out of their household or bubble. Here are today's other developments:
        Weekend perspective   There were 104,015 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Saturday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 2,614. With the reminder that weekend numbers are fragmentary and incomplete, the new-case and fatality numbers are a respite from this year's horror. Except, of course, these "respite" numbers would have been considered a nightmare as recently as November.
        Edging up   The TSA says that 705,951 people passed through airport checkpoints on Saturday. That's 39.9% of 2020 volume, a small edge upward over previous days.
        District disaster   Ridership on the Washington Metro rail system fell 85.5% in December compared to December, 2019, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
        Canada cruise news   The Canadian government is prohibiting pleasure craft in Canadian Arctic waters and cruise vessels in all Canadian waters until February 28, 2022. Essential passenger vessels, such as ferries and water taxis, may operate under local safety rules.
        You have to admit it's (not) getting better   Forward flight bookings made in January were down 70% compared to advance bookings made in January, 2020, according to IATA, the global airline trade association. That indicates flying won't increase this year barring last-minute bookings--perhaps after vaccinations are widespread and travelers have more confidence.
        No-fly zones   On Wednesday (February 3), ten Europe-based airlines flew schedules that were down 90% or more compared to 2019. That includes continental discounters Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air as well as intercontinental carriers such as British Airways and Swiss International. SAS, TAP Air Portugal, Lufthansa, LOT Polish and Austrian Airlines were down more than 80%. The numbers were compiled by Eurocontrol, which handles the continent's air traffic control system.

Coronavirus Update: Saturday, February 6, 2021

Nearly 37 million doses of a Covid vaccine have been administered in the United States. But only 7.5 million people have been fully vaccinated and that represents just 2.29% of the nation. Here are today's other developments:
        So much winning   There were 133,558 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Friday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 3,674, which is apparently winning compared to the 5,000-plus who died a day earlier.
        Wheels up   The TSA says that 868,624 people passed through airport checkpoints on Friday. That's 38.2% of 2020 volume and a slight increase over the previous two Fridays.
        Your mask or your money   The TSA says that it wants to fine travelers $250 when they don't comply with the federal mask mandate. Repeat offenders can be fined as much as $1,500.
        Party like it's Super Bowl LV   Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is lifting the state mask mandate, which already was more a suggestion than an actual requirement. She's also lifting limits on the size of public gatherings and will permit bars and restaurants to serve at full capacity. Changes are effective tomorrow, which just happens to be Super Bowl Sunday. Because why not encourage super-spreader events in the middle of the nation's worse pandemic in more than a hundred years?
        Literal last orders   Alcohol-related deaths hit a record high in England and Wales during the first nine months of the coronavirus pandemic. There were 5,460 alcohol-related deaths from January to September of 2020, the largest number since 2001. It's also nearly 20% higher than during the first nine months of 2019, according to figures released by Britain's Office for National Statistics.

Coronavirus Update: Friday, February 5, 2021

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that only 49,000 new, nonfarm jobs were added to the economy in January. The November and December job numbers were also revised downward. So much for that V-shaped rebound. Here are today's other developments:
        Not even news anymore   There were 122,473 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Thursday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 5,084. That is the highest one-day death toll since the pandemic began. And no one even counts it as newsworthy.
        Spinning wheels   The TSA says that 778,065 people passed through airport checkpoints on Thursday. That's 35.8% of 2020 volume and a tenth of a point lower than last Thursday.
        The war in Wisconsin   The Republican-controlled state legislature yesterday repealed a mask mandate imposed by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. It was the first Coronavirus action taken by the legislature in ten months. An hour later, Evers issued a new emergency health order mandating the use of masks in the state.
        Lots of room at the inns   U.S. hotels registered an average occupancy rate of 40.4% for the week ended January 30. That's down 29.6 points from a similar week in 2020, says STR, the hotel statisticians. Canada's nationwide average occupany was 23.8%, off 58%, according to STR.
        Israel   ends its national lockdown at 7am Sunday local time. But the ban on commercial flights, which has essentially shuttered El Al and Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has been extended until at least February 21.
        They're too stupid for their shirt   Right Said Fred, the brother act most famous for the 1991 hit, I'm Too Sexy, are apparently too stupid for their shirt. They pranced through London/Heathrow without masks and then claimed airport staff and British Airways employees applauded the decision. Weirdly, tweets from BA and Heathrow seemed to support the claim--but were then deleted. Britain's Daily Mail has the not-too-sexy details.
        The Red Lion in winter   A handful of homeless activists have been arrested in the Washington capital of Olympia after occupying a downtown Red Lion hotel. King 5 TV in Seattle has the details.

Daily Coronavirus Updates for Jan. 30-Feb. 4

Read all about it! More than 435,000 440,000 445,000 450,000 452,000 Americans have died as we pass 26 million cases. California, South Carolina and Arizona are the riskiest states for Coronavirus transmission. Canada cracks down on snowbird flights and slaps testing requirements on all arrivals. The CDC codifies President Biden's executive order on masks for travel. Portugal, the epicenter of the current outbreak, closes the country's borders for two weeks. A winter storm in the Northeast disrupts the skeletal air system. And more. Click here for the week's updates.

Daily Coronavirus Updates for January 23-29

Read all about it! More than 412,000 415,000 420,000 425,000 430,000 433,000 Americans have died as we pass the 25-million case mark. U.S. travel slumps as the traditional January downturn depresses flying. Israel again shuts down flights. Sweden and Finland bar their Nordic neighbors and European nations close their borders to many visitors. Airline fourth-quarter "earnings" are awful. Bricks-and-mortar retailers close shops by the hundreds. And more. Click here for the week's updates.

Daily Coronavirus Updates for January 16-22

Read all about it! Global Coronavirus deaths pass the 2-million mark and near the 100-million case plateau. More than 390,000 395,000 400,000 405,000 410,000 412,000 have died in the United States as we near the 25-million case mark. The Biden Administration expects 100,000 additional deaths just in the next month. Flying sags in Europe as nations tighten lockdowns. The United States sees small Martin Luther King Weekend surge, then the January malaise. And much more. Click here for the week's updates.

Daily Coronavirus Updates for January 9-15

Read all about it! Coronavirus cases globally surge and more than 367,000 370,000 375,000 380,000 385,000 390,000 have died in the United States. Flying is plunging after the New Year's rush. Airlines ban rowdy travelers flying back from last week's Capitol riots. Washington and the area's airports lock down ahead of next week's Inauguration. Travel numbers from 2020 continue to show the depth of the industry's crisis while current lockdowns force carriers to cut capacity again. Click here for the week's updates.

Daily Coronavirus Updates for January 1-8

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. Click here for the week's updates.

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.