Coronavirus Special Report
Year Three: January 15-21, 2022
Read all about it! U.S. Coronavirus deaths top 860,000. The national vaccination rate hangs below 64%. U.S. flying plunges while a winter storm leads to thousands of cancellations over the King Day weekend. Two transatlantic flights this week returned to their departure points after passengers disrupted operations. Europe aircraft traffic is at lowest rate since September and Eurostar passengers fell 85% last year compared to 2019. About 33 million seats disappear from worldwide winter schedules as airlines slash schedules to cope with Omicron. Sweden, Austria and Thailand loosen entry rules. Emirates Airline won't accept proctored antigen tests from U.S.-bound flyers even though they are accepted by the United States for re-entry. Amtrak cuts schedules through March. And more.
Coronavirus Update: Friday, January 21, 2022
There are the first signs that the Omicron wave has peaked in the United States. New infections are down--a bit. Hospitalizations are down--a bit. Put a marker here and let's review. Here are today's other developments:
It's a trend
The TSA says 1,471,161 people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints yesterday. That's just 67.5% of volume on a similar pre-pandemic day in January, 2019. It's also the slowest Thursday in January, 2022, so far.
About 97% of Amtrak employees are vaccinated, but high sick rates are leading the railroad to slash service by about 8%. The cuts will continue through March. The Washington Post
The tunnel collapses
Eurostar, the train that uses the Channel Tunnel to link England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, has all but disappeared during the pandemic. Just 1.6 million passengers used the service in 2021. That's down 85.2% compared to 2019.
I'll turn these planes around!
Nasty flyers continue to disrupt travel. On Wednesday, an American Airlines flight from Miami to London turned back to MIA about an hour into the journey. The cause? An obstreperous passenger who refused to wear her mask. The New York Times
. On Thursday, two flyers on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Tel Aviv tried to self-upgrade into business class. When they refused to vacate, the pilot turned the aircraft back to Newark. The Times of Israel
has those details
Rolling in the deep (Covid)
Adele has postponed the start of her residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. She says half of her crew and team are out of action with Covid. CBS News has details
Hotel hot sheet
U.S. hotels registered 83% of their revenue per available room in 2021 compared to 2019. Occupancy nationwide remained below 60%, however, according to industry statisticians STR.
Shots for sure now
As expected, Austria's Parliament yesterday overwhelmingly approved a nationwide vaccine mandate. About 72% of the nation is currently vaccinated and the others now face the mid-March deadline. Refusal to take the shot can face fines of around $4,000.
Coronavirus Update: Thursday, January 20, 2022
The British government is convulsing over repeated disclosures that Prime Minister Boris Johnson looked the other way in 2020 when staffers held parties in violation of then-prevailing Coronavirus restrictions. The PM's excuses have been so unpopular that some of his own backbenchers want him out. Johnson's response? He sent out health secretary Sajid Javid to announce the end to all Covid restrictions. The Guardian
. Here are today's other developments:
The TSA says 1,201,583 people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints yesterday. That's just 66.7% of volume on a similar pre-pandemic day in January, 2020.
No vax with my latte
Starbucks has reversed its employee vaccine mandate now that the Supreme Court has derailed OSHA's vax-or-test mandate. The New York Times
Calling 'em as they don't see 'em
NBC Sports won't send any announcing teams to Beijing for next month's Winter Olympics. “The [announcers] for these Olympics will be calling events from our Stamford [Connecticut] facility due to COVID concerns," said Greg Hughes, the network's senior vice president of communications.
Second time the charm?
Thailand will make another attempt to start its quarantine-free travel plan. Effective February 1, fully vaccinated travelers will now be able to enter Thailand as long as they take Covid tests on the first and fifth days after arrival. Agence France-Presse has details
Boost to travel
Effective Monday, January 24, all travelers who have received a booster shot will be permitted to enter Austria without a PCR test. The decision comes ahead of the government's expected edict requiring all citizens be vaccinated.
Coronavirus Update: Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Yesterday was not
a great day to fly in Canada. Delays were the order of the day, according to the stats compiled by FlightAware.com. Air Canada delayed nearly half its flights. Air Canada Rouge was at 46%. Jazz, Air Canada's regional operation, was late on about a third of its flights. WestJet was late with 38%. Here are today's other developments:
Glass two-thirds full
The TSA says that 1,301,462 people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints yesterday. That's just 69.6% of volume on a similar pre-pandemic day in January, 2020.
Three for Hawaii
Hawaii will require visitors to be vaccinated and
boosted to be considered "fully vaccinated." ABC News has details
Not quite locked down
Japan's government has approved new Coronavirus restrictions on a large part of the country, including Tokyo. Although not a blanket lockdown, the new rules can include early closings of bars and restaurants and alcohol bans. Agence France-Presse has details
Eurocontrol says that 15,192 flights operated in Europe's skies yesterday, just 60.9% of an equivalent day in 2019.
Vax to work
Carhartt, best-known for its heavy-duty work clothes, says it is keeping its vaccine mandate for employees despite the Supreme Court ruling that temporarily derailed the OHSA test-or-vax rule. Newsweek
. Meanwhile, right-wing pundits, who routinely decry "cancel culture," have taken to social media to urge a boycott of Carhartt.
Coronavirus Update: Tuesday, January 18, 2022
, the Biden Administration's free test kit site, went up today, a day early. And it works flawlessly. Here are today's other developments:
Not too impressive
The TSA says that 1,699,242 people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints yesterday, Martin Luther King day. That's 73.9% of 2020 volume on a similar Monday just before the first round of Coronavirus hit U.S. shores.
OAG, the airline schedulekeeper, says 33 million seats have been dropped from winter schedules in the last two weeks. It says global airline capacity is 71.5% of pre-Covid levels.
The World Tourism Organization, a branch of the United Nations, says global tourist arrivals in 2021 were 72% below 2019, the last full year of pre-Coronavirus travel. And for all the coverage of a travel revival last year, WTO numbers say 2021 arrivals were just 4% above 2020 levels, the worst year for tourism on record.
Sweden says it will lift pre-entry testing requirement currently imposed on all people entering the country regardless of vaccination status or nationality. The testing-free regimen is effective beginning January 21.
Coronavirus Update: Monday, January 17, 2022
China announced today that it will not sell tickets to next month's Winter Olympic events to anyone. The only attendees will be invited guests and carefully chosen invited spectators. Here are today's other developments:
About 4.5 million people passed through TSA security checkpoints at U.S. airports over the weekend (Friday-Sunday). That's more than 100,000 fewer flyers than the previous weekend, surprising since the King Day Weekend is usually a strong travel period. The Omicron variant and the threat of bad weather clearly hurt demand.
A cavalcade of cancellations
Even before the winter ice/snow/rain/wind storm hit the South, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, airlines began a cavalcade of cancellations. The carriers dumped 3,061 flights on Sunday and 1,650 more by 5pm ET today. The numbers are based on data collected by FlightAware.com.
Disturbing and deadly
There were 5,442,170 new Coronavirus cases in the United States during the last week, according to Johns Hopkins. It is, of course, the worst single-week report since the pandemic began. The death toll was 12,580, up from the previous week, but still far below the weekly high of 23,415 recorded January 10-16, 2021.
The Omicron tumble
Eurocontrol says the 7-day average of aircraft traffic was 70.4% of 2019 levels. That is the lowest volume since last September.
Young(kin) and foolish
As promised during his campaign for governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order on his first day in office banning mask mandates
in schools. Several Virginia school districts said they would ignore the order and maintain their mandates. The new order goes into effect on January 24. Stay tuned.
In what is surely a response to the Djokovic debacle Down Under, France says all professional athletes competing in the country must be vaccinated. That's important because the second Grand Slam tennis event--The French Open--is scheduled for May at Roland Garros. That would require Djokovic to get a shot or skip the event. If he remains unvaxxed, he'd probably not be able to compete in the New York Open in September, either.
Coronavirus Update: Weekend, January 15-16, 2022
The CDC has decided to let its Coronavirus rules for cruise ships to expire. The so-called "conditional sailing order" set out rules for testing and vaccinations of crews and passengers. The Washington Post
. All this is happening while a Norwegian cruiseliner is turning into the pandemic's version of The Flying Dutchman
. Those details
are served up by USA Today
. Here are this weekend's other developments.
Game, set, match
As you surely heard since it seemed to be the only thing the news networks covered, a three-judge panel in Australia on Sunday denied the appeal of defending Australian Open tennis champion Novak Djokovic. His visa remained revoked and he left the country hours later on an Emirates Airline flight. The Australian Open begins tomorrow without the Serbian, the top-ranked male player.
Who was that (badly) masked man?
Cloth masks don't work nearly as well as N95 or other masks, according to the belated findings of the CDC. The New York Times
Keep on trucking?
The Canadian government says it will turn away unvaccinated truckers carrying goods from the United States. Some supply-chain experts are concerned because vaccination rates among U.S. truckers are far below the national average of about 63%. Bloomberg News has details
The Emirates exception
Emirates Airline will not permit U.S citizens flying home to United States from Dubai to use the proctored Abbot/Emed antigen test, the easiest, fastest and cheapest option. Although the tests are acceptable to U.S. authorities, Emirates is demanding a PCR test taken within one day of departure. The only exception: U.S. travelers transiting Dubai for home. Emirates' strange rule is detailed here
Daily Coronavirus Updates for January 8-14
Read all about it! U.S. Coronavirus deaths pass 846,000. The national vaccination rate crawls past 63%. U.S. post-holiday flying numbers tumble. American Airlines says it won't fire vaccine holdouts. United says sick calls are extremely high while Delta threatens flight attendants over time off for positive tests. Qantas, Finnair and Virgin Australia slash schedules. Amtrak says fiscal 2022 revenue will be down 20% on pre-pandemic levels. New Orleans reinstates indoor mask mandate, but the Paris outdoor mask rule is overturned. Sweden orders restaurants and bars to close early. Heathrow Airport traffic plunges in December. The United States continues fighting with China over flights and schedules. And more. Click here
for the week's updates.
Daily Coronavirus Updates for January 1-7
Read all about it! U.S. Coronavirus deaths pass 834,000. The national vaccination rate reaches 63%. France clamps down on unvaccinated U.S. visitors while Cyprus demands negative PCR tests of all arrivals. Hong Kong and Macao ban all flights from the United States, Canada and other countries. England and Ireland ease testing rules for entry. Bad weather, Covid absentees and dreadful airline management lead to an end-of-the-year flying disaster that has dragged into this week. Global airline seat capacity was down 35% in 2021. Every cruise ship sailing in U.S. waters has reported Coronavirus cases and the CDC is investigating. And more. Click here
for the week's updates.
2021 Daily Coronavirus Updates
The year began with hope and vaccines. It ended with Omicron, new lockdowns and restrictions that foiled plans for a return to the "normal" of travel. You can see everything we posted in bullet-point form, grouped into weekly segments, by clicking 2021's archives
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