Coronavirus News Update – March 25: U.S. Airlines Start a Return to Normalcy

By Jesse Sokolow on 25 March 2021
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Southwest Airlines employees, wearing masks, at LaGuardia Airport

Normalcy or need for revenue? Airlines in the United States are starting to revert back to pre-pandemic procedures, dropping the niceties that arose over the past year including empty middle seats. Southwest Airlines has returned to boarding passengers in groups of 30, a change from its temporary policy of boarding people in groups of ten. Meanwhile, most airlines have begun selling out flights, as opposed to having middle seats off limits as many did during the peak of the pandemic.  Delta is the lone holdout and its middle-seat policy currently ends April 30.

As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded over 125.6 million Covid-19 cases since the first cases in December 2019 and it has seen nearly 2.8 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such data.

Since the start of vaccinations at the end of last year, the world has administered almost 500 million doses, the equivalent of 6.4 doses for every 100 people, an increase from 6.2 doses the prior day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 85.23 million people in the United States, or roughly 33% of the population over the age of 18, have received at least one dose, including 46.3 million people, or 17.9% of the same population, who have received both doses. Collectively, 14% of the population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, a 0.3 percentage point increase over Wednesday’s numbers.

A pilot program in Berlin will allow live shows and concerts to take place, with audience members granted access so long as they are negative for coronavirus. People must take a rapid test not more than 12 hours before the start of the show, which are administered at five approved centers in the city. The cost of the test is included in the price of the tickets.

The Danish Health Authority said that it would extend its suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Denmark until April 15. Officials in the country are further investigating whether or not the vaccine is the cause of rare side effects such as blood clots, an issue that led a dozen countries to temporarily suspend use of the vaccine, although most have since resumed distribution of it.

The UK and the European Union remain in talks over Europe’s threats to block vaccine exports to Britain on Thursday. The spat began when the UK requested exports of the vaccine sent to the country, but refused to export their own production supply.

Some businesses in the U.S. have begun offering incentives for people to get vaccinated. Krispy Kreme advertised that it will give one free glazed doughnut per day to those who show proof of immunization, while Up-Down, a bar chain featuring arcade games, is offering $5 in arcade tokens for those who provide proof of vaccine. A bar in Cleveland began marketing 10-cent beers for the first 2,021 people who show vaccine proof as well.

The Olympic Torch relay officially began in Fukushima, Japan on Thursday morning. The relay will last for four months until the start of the Summer Games on July 23, although it is still not certain that they will take place. Fans and spectators of the relay have been encouraged to offer support with applause, as cheering and shouting is not being permitted.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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