Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today
This is the Coronavirus Briefing, an informed guide to the pandemic. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.
H.H.S. has begun distributing billions of dollars to support rural health care providers slammed by the pandemic.
Europe’s death toll from Covid will exceed 2 million by spring, the W.H.O. said.
Israel began vaccinating children ages 5 to 11.
Infections rise among children
Coronavirus cases are surging among children in the U.S. From Nov. 11 to Nov. 18, the American Academy of Pediatrics counted more than 140,000 cases among children, and new infections are up by 32 percent over the last two weeks.
“Is there cause for concern? Absolutely,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, the vice chair of the academy’s infectious diseases committee. “What’s driving the increase in kids is there is an increase in cases overall.”
While children under 18 make up about 22 percent of the U.S. population, the recent cases account for about a quarter of the country’s total caseload. Experts say that children now make up a greater percentage of overall cases after the vaccines were rolled out among adults.
Though children are less likely to develop severe Covid illness than adults, they are still at risk, and can also spread the virus to adults. As of last month, about 8,300 American children ages 5 to 11 have been hospitalized with Covid and at least 172 have died, out of more than 3.2 million hospitalizations and 740,000 deaths overall, according to the C.D.C.
Experts have warned that children should be vaccinated to protect against possible long-Covid symptoms, Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome and hospitalization. Dr. O’Leary said that he was especially concerned about case increases in children during the holiday season.
Overall, cases are on the upswing, especially in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. The country is recording more than 90,000 cases per day, and while that’s well below the summer surge or even the level reached before Thanksgiving last year, more than 30 states are seeing sustained upticks and hospitalizations are climbing in the hardest-hit areas.
Federal medical teams have been dispatched to Minnesota to help at overwhelmed hospitals. Michigan is enduring its worst case surge yet, with daily caseloads doubling since the start of November. Even with high vaccination rates, states in New England — including Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire — are trying to contain major outbreaks.
It’s a complicated moment. While the vaccines continue to offer protection against the worst outcomes, their effectiveness against infection is waning for many, just as cases are on the rise across the country. Plenty of people who hit the road this year will be unvaccinated, unmasked and largely unworried about Covid-19.
Still, health officials have largely stopped telling people to avoid Thanksgiving gatherings, as they did last year, and millions of Americans are forging ahead with holiday plans. Experts largely agree that, with the right precautions, it’s possible for vaccinated people to host a relatively safe, though not fully risk-free, gathering.
A busy travel season
Millions more Americans are expected to take to the skies this Thanksgiving compared to last year. Many have been emboldened by vaccinations and are reluctant to spend another holiday alone. The T.S.A. said it expected to screen about 20 million passengers at airports in the 10 days that began Friday, a number approaching prepandemic levels.
While the industry is projecting optimism about easy traveling, the influx of passengers has injected an element of uncertainty into an already fragile system.
Major airlines have struggled to ramp up after sweeping layoffs at the beginning of the pandemic, and flight crews have had to contend with overwork, as well as disruptive and belligerent passengers. The F.A.A. has so far begun investigations into 991 episodes involving passenger misbehavior in 2021. That’s more than in the last seven years combined.
Airlines including Southwest and American have also experienced recent troubles that rippled for days — stymieing travel plans for thousands of passengers — as the carriers struggled to get pilots and flight attendants in place for delayed and rescheduled flights, a task complicated by thin staffing.
Some lawmakers warned that a Monday vaccination deadline for all federal employees could disrupt T.S.A. staffing at airports, resulting in long lines at security checkpoints, but the agency said those concerns were unfounded. Even so, AAA, the travel services organization, recommended that during the Thanksgiving travel wave passengers arrive two hours ahead of departure for domestic flights and three hours ahead for international destinations.
For those of you taking a flight this holiday, travel industry officials say to be prepared for crowded flights, inclement weather that could delay trips, and elevated costs of tickets if you have to make last-minute changes to plans.
Your pandemic fitness tips
With the holidays on the horizon, it can often be difficult to find time to exercise — let alone reach our fitness goals. The coronavirus pandemic has further complicated our fitness routines by shuttering yoga studios and gyms, many of which have not reopened, not to mention finding the motivation to get moving. But that’s where we hope you’ll come in.
We’re asking readers for the workout routines that they’ve found work for them, as well as the pandemic fitness hacks that have delivered results. If you’d like to share your tips, we’d love to hear them. You can tell us by filling out this form here. We may use your response in an upcoming newsletter.
What else we’re following
As the pandemic heads into a third year amid a labor shortage, a global battle for young and able migrant workers has begun.
Fifteen human rights groups pressed President Biden to push for a waiver of international patent protections on Covid vaccines.
France’s prime minister, Jean Castex, tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Atlantic explored the seasonal nature of the virus, and whether future waves can be predicted.
The New Yorker looked at how the Covid pills from Pfizer and Merck could change the course of the pandemic.
Pandemic-related stress is leading more Americans to grind their teeth until they crack, NPR reports.
Researchers are experimenting with a chewing gum that may reduce the spread of the virus, Reuters reports.
What you’re doing
I am going back to my hometown in Europe this Friday, after two years without seeing my family. Today both my mother and her wife tested positive for Covid, and my father is lying on a hospital bed, barely able to breathe. This trip was supposed to be a moment of reunion and joy — instead, it will be worries and hospital visits. When is this nightmare going to end?
— Lucille, Michigan
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