Coronavirus Special Report
February 20-26, 2021
Read all about it! More than 495,000 500,000 505,000 510,000 Americans have died from Coronavirus and new-case numbers are edging up again. Travel-industry numbers for 2020 were brutal and the first quarter looks even weaker. Italy marks a year after it became the Western epicenter of the disease. Boeing 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines grounded worldwide after Denver incident. And more. Read from the bottom for context.

Coronavirus Update: Friday, February 26, 2021

Canadian regulators today approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for distribution in addition to the Pfizer and Moderna versions. Here are today's other developments:
        Up and down   There were 77,291 new Coronavirus cases in the United States Thursday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 2,417. New-case numbers continue to edge up, but the death toll has fallen a bit.
        Another million people  The TSA says 1,051,149 people passed through airport checkpoints Thursday. That is 44.5% of 2020 volume, nearly six points better than last Thursday.
        The winter of our discontent   IAG, parent of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, issued gloomy forecasts today. It expects first quarter capacity to be 20% of 2019 levels, lower than last year's fourth quarter. Moreover, "we have very low expectations for Easter ... normally a peak period for travel," says IAG chief executive Luis Gallego. The 2021 outlook? "Highly uncertain," he admits.
        The summer wind   Major U.S. carriers operated about 394,000 domestic flights in December, approximately the same as August, according to the Transportation Department.
        The autumn breeze   U.S. hotels registered an average night occupancy of 48.1% for the week ended February 20. It's the "best" performance since late October, says Sindustry recordkeepers STR.
        Slow skies   Eurocontrol says flight volume in Europe skies yesterday was 36% of 2019 levels.

Coronavirus Update: Thursday, February 25, 2021

Don't expect Europe to relax travel restrictions anytime soon. A surge in cases and new variants are spooking officials. CNBC has details. Here are today's other developments:
        Beware: up again   There were 74,502 new Coronavirus cases in the United States Wednesday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 3,230. Numbers are edging up again, so beware.
        Take note   The TSA says 802,230 people passed through airport checkpoints Wednesday. That is 38.6% of 2020 volume. It's worth noting that 2020 volume was below 2019 numbers for the previous five days, so 2020's travel numbers may have begun deteriorating earlier than we knew last year.
        Half a flying loaf   Global scheduled seat capacity is down 47% in February compared to last year, according to schedulekeepers OAG. The number of flights is down 45%, which means carriers have moved to slightly smaller aircraft.
        Turks top the hill   For the week ended February 24, Eurocontrol says the "largest" carrier in Europe was Turkish Airlines with 603 daily flights. That was down "only" 52% on 2019. In comparison, Lufthansa was down 86% and SAS was down 83%. The worst performer? British Airways with 102 daily flights, down 89% from 2019.
        Switzerland   say shops, museums and zoos can reopen on March 1. Restaurants can open from March 22.

Coronavirus Update: Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine is effective against several variants of the Coronavirus and recommends it for emergency use. It's the first step required to allow the vaccine to be used. Here are today's other developments:
        The Six-per-cent solution   There were 71,436 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Tuesday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 2,350. Johns Hopkins says 6.08% of the nation is now fully vaccinated.
        Tuesday tumble   The TSA says 714,725 people passed through airport checkpoints Tuesday. That's 37.2% of 2020 volume. It's the first day in six not to reach 900,000 flyers.
        Dunkirk down   The French port city of Dunkirk will go into weekend lockdowns in an attempt to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. The move comes just days after Nice and the surrounding area also went into weekend-lockdown mode.
        Hotels on ice   Nationwide average hotel occupancy in Canada was 22.3% in January. Revenue per available room (revPAR), a key measure of lodging health was down more than 67% in January, according to hotel statisticians STR.
        Millions and millions not served   Eurocontrol says there have been seven million fewer flights in Europe's skies since March 1, 2020.

Coronavirus Update: Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The United States has now passed 500,000 deaths by all who measure such Coronavirus statistics. How would you like your comparison? Urban? It's more than the population of Atlanta. Military? It's greater than the death toll of both World Wars and Vietnam combined. Comparative? The U.S. death toll is more than twice that of the next nearest nation (Brazil). Grounded? It approximately equals all the deaths on U.S. roads between 2006 and 2019. Here are today's other developments:
        Rolling on   There were 56,044 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Monday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 1,413.
        Flying to the nines   The TSA says 963,280 people passed through airport checkpoints on Monday. That's 42.4% of 2020 volume. It's also the fifth consecutive day of traffic above 900,000.
        Still closed   The closure of land crossings between the United States, Canada and Mexico has been extended until at least March 21. That will be the one-year anniversary of the border closure to all but essential travel.
        "Diabolical silliness"   The North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill on Monday that would make future mask mandates illegal. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Jeff Hoverson, called mask mandates "diabolical silliness." North Dakota, of course, had the highest Covid mortality rates in the world late last year. According to the most recent statistics for deaths per 100,000 residents, North Dakota is Number 11 in the nation. The state's "improvement" began after the governor imposed a mask mandate.
        England's exit   British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday outlined England's roadmap for exiting Coronavirus restrictions. Schools will reopen March 8. Pubs reopen for outdoor, sit-down service and shops can reopen on April 12. Hotels and B&Bs reopen May 17, the same day pubs again can offer indoor service. All legal restrictions related to the virus will be lifted as soon as June 21.

Coronavirus Update: Monday, February 22, 2021

The media notices we're at or near the 500,000-death mark, but it's hard to tell if America is paying any attention. Here are today's other developments:
        Weekend slowdown   There were 56,495 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Sunday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 1,249. A reminder that weekend numbers are always fragmentary and incomplete.
        Weekend uptick   The TSA says that 1,115,479 people passed through airport checkpoints on Sunday. That's 46.9% of 2020 volume. Which means Saturday's strong showing (relatively speaking, of course) was not an anomaly.
        Groundings   Airlines flying Boeing 777-200s powered with Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines have temporarily grounded the aircraft. It's the same plane with the same engine as United Flight 328, which experienced engine failure Saturday over Denver. In the case of United, 24 of the widebodies are not flying--they were almost all on Hawaii runs--almost as many of the aircraft that United has in storage. In other words, the system has shrunk so much that the grounding in the United States, Japan and South Korea will have little or no effect on capacity. Bloomberg has some statistical details.
        Stay home. Again. Still.   Nice and surrounding areas are going into weekend lockdown after a spike in Coronavirus cases in the French city. Meanwhile, new Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has ordered the ban on inter-region domestic travel continued until at least March 27.
        Ghostly   Some hotels are staying afloat by renting out their kitchens to chefs and entrepreneurs who use them to bootstrap new concepts or service delivery operations. The New York Times has the details.

Coronavirus Update: Sunday, February 21, 2021

Governors are getting their reputations dinged for poor Covid-vaccine rollouts and other Coronavirus sins. The Hill singles out Newsome (California), Cuomo (New York) and Baker (Massachusetts) and asks why Ron DeSantis of Florida doesn't get more heat. Here are today's other developments:
        Just before half-a-million   There were 71,510 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Saturday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll was 1,821. The United States is expected to hit 500,000 deaths today or tomorrow.
        Statistical Saturday   The TSA says that 942,238 people passed through airport checkpoints on Saturday. That's 48.2% of 2020 volume, the best performance since January 4. But this might be an anomaly based on how the TSA compares year-over-year statistics. Still, it is a strong performance for a February in Saturday, comparatively speaking.
        It's raining planes   United Flight 328 bound for Honolulu returned to Denver yesterday with starboard engine failure. The Boeing 777-200 twin-engine widebody dropped parts around a one-mile radius in Denver area. Photos and video show pieces of cowling and other debris landing in yards and on homes. No one was hurt on the ground or on the aircraft, however.
        Legacy of loss   A year after Codogno registered Italy's first Coronavirus case, Agence France-Presse returns to the shell-shocked city of 15,000. "Every three minutes you heard the sound of an ambulance," recalls Emy Cavalli, a local bar owner. ""We asked ourselves, 'Who will it be? Who will be next?'"

Coronavirus Update: Saturday, February 20, 2021

MGM Resorts International says three of its Las Vegas properties--Mandalay Bay, Park MGM and The Mirage--resume all-week, 24-hour service on March 3. Which begs the Steven Wright joke: After being thrown out of a casino for arguing about what constituted an odd number, he walked to a diner that had a sign that said: "Open 24 Hours." The manager was closing. "I thought you were open 24 hours?" asked Wright. "Not in a row," answered the manager. Here are today's other developments:
        Wrong way   There were 110,070 new Coronavirus cases in the United States on Friday, says Johns Hopkins. The death toll: 2,706. While the death toll continues to be unacceptably high, the 7-day new-infection number had dropped below 100,000 cases.
        Friday fever   The TSA says 1,059,452 people passed through airport checkpoints on Friday. That's 43.6% of 2020 volume, back to levels achieved during last week's Valentine's Day/President's Day boomlet.
        Long distance information   Memphis Airport says it will reopen at 3pm local time after closing yesterday and cancelling all flights due to low water pressure. It is another by-product of this week's nasty winter storms.
        Air France/KLM   says 2020 revenue fell 59% compared to 2019. The number of passengers carried fell 67.3%. The carriers say they'll fly just 40% of their 2019 schedules during the first quarter.
        British hospitality   What's it like in the hotels used by the British government to quarantine arrivals from "red zone" countries? Expensive, regimented and quite dull, according to reports. Reuters has an inside look.

Daily Coronavirus Updates for February 13-19

Read all about it! More than 476,000 480,000 485,000 490,000 495,000 Americans have died, but the new-case number is slowly falling. There was a Valentine's Day/President's Day boomlet in flying. The government backs off plans to demand negative tests for domestic flights. Nasty winter storms snarl flying nationwide and basically ground Texas. Travel industry financial numbers remain startlingly bad. And more. Click here for the week's updates.

Daily Coronavirus Updates for February 5-12

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 the 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. Click here for the week's updates.

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.