Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

Families reunited.


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This is the Coronavirus Briefing, an informed guide to the pandemic. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.


Daily reported coronavirus cases in the United States, seven-day average.Credit…The New York Times

Pfizer says its antiviral Covid-19 pill vastly reduces hospitalizations and death.

Eleven states sued the Biden administration over its vaccination mandate for large companies.

The city of Vienna will start to vaccinate young children as young as 5 without E.U. approval.

Get the latest updates here, as well as maps and a vaccine tracker.

Welcome back, tourists

On Monday the U.S. will lift a ban on international tourists, allowing them to enter the country for the first time in a year and a half. Proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test required.

The move has led to a blitz of travel bookings and will finally allow many families and friends to reunite. It should also give the embattled travel industry a much-needed boost.

“It’s exciting for many people who have been separated by these rules and can now visit family and friends in the U.S. over the holidays,” said my colleague Heather Murphy, who covers travel for The Times. For the travel industry, which has been pummeled by the pandemic, she added, “it’s a positive sign that things are moving back toward normal.”

Cities like New York, San Francisco and Washington are all planning for an influx of international visitors this holiday season, and ski resorts and beach towns should also be popular, especially as people are still gravitating toward destinations where they can have fun outside. Families with children will also start to be more comfortable traveling, now that children in the U.S. as young as 5 can get vaccinated.

Americans see the reopening as a signal that they too can travel internationally, experts said. Searches for outbound travel on the booking app Hopper, for instance, have increased by 24 percent since the announcement, the highest uptick since the spring.

But we’re still in a pandemic, and this holiday season, whether you’re coming to the U.S. or traveling elsewhere, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind.

Start planning now. Pandemic traveling requires preparation and leaving room for last-minute changes in regulations, flight schedules or Covid outbreaks. Prices have also increased across the industry, and accommodations at popular destinations — like Honolulu, Hawaii, and Palm Beach, Fla. — are already booked or filling up.

Know the virus regulations. They can be complicated, and they’re constantly changing. Make sure you know which types of Covid tests are accepted where you’re traveling, and what is acceptable as proof of vaccination. Here’s a primer on testing and vaccinations for travel.

Be patient. For those traveling to the U.S., American officials have warned of longer wait times at some ports of entry, and have asked people to have their travel and vaccine documents at the ready. Here’s what you need to know about traveling to the U.S.

Be prepared to adapt. “Be flexible and open to the possibility that things may shift,” Heather said. Airlines continue to regularly cancel flights, and an ill-timed positive Covid test while on vacation could leave you stranded. Keep in mind that services, from renting a car to dining out, may be limited or disrupted.

“This will be the first holiday season since the pandemic began that many people will have big meals and events with people in other parts of the country and the world,” Heather said. At the same time, pandemic anxiety and disputes over virus regulations like mask wearing could make this holiday travel season even more strained than normal. “We just have to be generous and patient with one another,” she added, “because so many people are upset about this pandemic, but it’s still here.”

More on travel:

If you’re a U.S. citizen, here’s a look at the places in the world where you can travel, along with local virus restrictions.

A conversation with Rick Steves, the travel writer, on the return of travel to Europe and his recommendations for how to do it.

Your reunion plans

As the U.S. reopens, we asked our readers about their plans to reunite with family and friends. Thanks to all of you who wrote in.

“I will be seeing my dad, who lives in Ohio, for the first time in two years. He is 90 and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia during the past year. In another year, depending on how his disease progresses, he might not know me. This is my chance to truly connect with him. Who knows how many more times I will be able to do so?” — Connie Dunwoody, Victoria, British Columbia

“My sister is finally able to visit from France. I have not seen her since June 2019. Since I last saw my sister, we moved to a new house, I had a stroke and recovered, and my son got married without any of my French family members present. It’s time to catch up on the time we lost. No big plans, lots of conversation, baking, going through family pictures, just being …” — Catherine Beredjick, Tampa, Fla.

“Finally, after two years, our son and daughter-in-law will visit from Malawi. Fortunately, they were the first in that county to get fully vaccinated, paving the way for them to come visit. Hopefully we can plan time with family in Florida and California and of course plenty of time at the beach! Although we have had occasions for online visits, dinners and parties, there is nothing that can replace a big bear hug!” — Jana Ronan, Florida

“We moved to Texas in 2019 and haven’t seen our loved ones face to face in over two years. We were due to fly to the U.K. the day everything was shut down! Fast-forward to now and I am probably a million times more excited to see my family and friends. Most of them have made it. Some have been through unthinkable experiences and I’m sure that we all have been changed by the pandemic. I worry about the fact that I may have become a bit awkward and weird. Me and my husband were stuck at home together for over a year and so we can’t tell if we’re a little odd these days, but I’m sure my mum will let me know! The joy in my heart is unreal.” — Eilidh Shaw, Texas

“My brother got married in the U.K. earlier this year. No one in our family has met his new wife yet. The two of them will be flying back to spend Thanksgiving with our family in a couple weeks. We’ll have several days to catch up and welcome our new sister into the family! — Anya, New Mexico

“My wife, daughters and I are reuniting with my mother-in-law and father-in-law. We last saw them exactly two years ago. My wife is from Mexico and because of Covid we have not been back to visit her family. In the last two years, we home-schooled our two daughters (who are now back in regular school) and my wife got pregnant. I know she has felt lonely, and has felt like she has carried the weight of our family’s well-being during the pandemic. Her due date is less than five weeks away and her parents fly into town in just two weeks. Their seven-week stay will be most welcome and I know it will help my wife feel recharged and energized as the new baby arrives.” — Orlando Barros, Frederick, Md.

“I get to meet my baby niece for the first time and see my extended family for the first time since January 2019. I’ll be traveling to San Francisco from Ireland. For me it means returning to some sort of normalcy. I’ve been living in rural Ireland for a few years and the loneliness is overwhelming. I’m dying to hug my mom and hold the new baby. It will also be my first Thanksgiving since 2018, so I’m very excited to see my extended family and surprise them with my pregnancy!” — Casey Scanlan, Ballinalee, Ireland

“I will be meeting my dad and brothers in Hawaii. The last time I saw them was in Costa Rica, in February 2020, at the hospital where my mom was dying. She passed away the day my younger brother and I flew home for Costa Rica, leaving us gutted. We have not been able to have any kind of ceremony to honor her yet, so that is what we will do — have a family gathering to celebrate her life and remember the awesome woman that she was.” — Megan Ives, Portland, Ore.

“My parents are arriving from Italy next Wednesday. We last saw each other in October 2019. Even filling out this form makes me break up into tears. This reunion means the world to us. I had my second child last year, and he is about to turn 1. My older daughter is turning 4 and spent the last year asking me why her grandparents and aunt couldn’t come to visit. We can’t turn back time, but we can create new great memories.” — Maria Di Filippo, Miami

What else we’re following

Chicago will close schools for a day to encourage vaccinations.

The U.S. government terminated its contract with Emergent, a troubled vaccine maker.

Latvia moved to make it legal to fire unvaccinated workers.

Thousands of U.S. intelligence officers are at risk of losing their jobs for failing to comply with vaccine mandates, The Associated Press reports.

In India, experts fear that gatherings for Diwali could prompt another virus spike.

A White House aide who traveled abroad with President Biden tested positive.

New York City parents can now get $100 if they vaccinate their children.

The New York City Marathon returns this weekend, another milestone in the city’s long journey of recovery.

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