Flying with a Toddler? Here’s Everything You Need to Know


Flying with a toddler or infant can be challenging. After all, there are extra factors to consider — and things to pack. (And this is even when you’re not worrying about how the new coronavirus is affecting flights.)

Toddlers have a (deserved) reputation for being impatient. Their attention span is short and they struggle to sit still. They’re also prone to sudden outbursts.

In short, toddlers are temperamental and unpredictable. Not exactly the ideal traveling companion, right?

But traveling with 2- and 3-year-olds isn’t impossible. With a little foresight, planning, and smart packing, you too can fly with a toddler.

When you start planning an airline trip, cost is definitely a factor. The first question to answer when flying with your little one is often whether to buy them their own seat on the plane.

Do you have to buy a plane ticket for your toddler?

If your little one is under 2 years old, you’re not required to buy a seat for them on flights within the United States.

However, while children under the age of 2 can sit on your lap — and saving the cost of that extra ticket undoubtedly sounds really good — the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends that parents buy seats for children of all ages.

This is because being seated is safest.

“The safest place for your child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap,” the FAA writes.

Why? Because “your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence” but CRS systems are.

The good news is most car seats or high-backed booster seats can be used in this fashion. Here are some ways to check if yours will work:

  • Look for the informational tag on the seat. It should read, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”
  • Another tip? Measure the width of your seat. Devices 16 inches and smaller fit will fit most airplane seats.
  • To learn more about whether your car seat or booster seat will meet approval, visit the FAA guidance website and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

That said, if your car seat can’t fit or doesn’t double as a CRS device, you may want to look into using a CARES harness. This is an FAA-approved restraint.

The straps and buckles of the harness work with the plane seatbelt to secure children between 22 and 44 pounds.

Keep in mind that this only works for aircraft; the CARES harness isn’t intended for use in cars. So, if you’ll still need a car seat at your destination, this might not be the most practical choice.

Of course, you can still opt for a lap seat — if your airline allows. Age policies can vary somewhat from carrier to carrier, so check with the airline you’ll be using.

However, consider the benefits of having that extra seat. When I bought a seat for my 18-month-old, she napped the whole flight. Plus, the additional seat will give you extra space to store things, play, and stretch your legs.

Other considerations for air travel with toddlers

Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doesn’t require individuals under the age of 18 to have ID when flying domestically. If you’re traveling internationally, however, your child will need a passport. Your airline may have their own identification requirements, so check with them directly.
  • Some airlines allow minors as young as 5 years old to fly unaccompanied. For more information, check with your airline for their policies.
  • When flying with toddlers, you should give yourself additional time to check in and clear security. While toddlers aren’t subject to the same screening protocols as adults, items you may be transporting — like bottles, snacks, or stored breast milk — will need to be screened. The same goes for strollers, car seats, and booster seats.
  • If your last name differs from your child’s, bring proof of your relationship. Examples include a birth certificate, court order, and adoption decree. And if you’re traveling without the child’s other parent, you may need to bring a consent form.

While it’s important to know the rules and regulations of flying, there’s more to traveling with toddlers than seating arrangements and security. Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks.

Preboard your flight, when possible

You may think preboarding is unnecessary — after all, why spend more time stuck in a small seat on a small plane?! — but it’ll take you and your toddler time to get situated.

Boarding early will also give you the chance (and space) you need to spread out and organize your toys, tablets, diapers, and snacks. A real win-win.

If you’re traveling with another adult, you may be able to divide and conquer. One person can preboard to prep things on the plane while the other keeps the toddler busy and moving in the airport for a little longer.

Dress in layers

Layers are a must when traveling with a toddler. Why? Because while the weather outside may be warm, the air in airports is (generally) cool.

Plus, the temperature on the plane can vary — from super chilly to boiling hot. Think comfort and convenience.

This is also key for the inevitable messes and spills that can happen when trying to manage snacks and a wiggly toddler in a cramped plane. Being able to quickly take off a yogurt-covered shirt mid-flight without flashing fellow travelers is helpful.

Bring beverages and snacks

Rule number one of traveling with toddlers is to bring snacks. After all, for toddlers, eating is an activity.

Crackers, Goldfish, Teddy Grahams, and Cheerios are a great choice. Bananas can be purchased at most airports, and fruit or vegetable squeeze pouches are nutritious and delicious. For a thorough list of healthy snacks, check out this kid-friendly roundup.

When packing juices or water, consider airline regulations on bringing liquids on board.

You’re able to bring formula or breast milk in amounts larger than the 3.4-ounce limit for liquids. But keep in mind they’ll need to be screened separately at security.

Consider the timing of your flight

Have you ever hung out with a toddler after 5:00 p.m.? I don’t recommend it. They call it the witching hour, and for good reason.

And while there’s a chance your little one will nap on a night flight, there are no guarantees. Plus, late flights are subject to more delays.

Instead, consider flying early — when your wee one is happiest — or timing flights when they’re likely to nap.

Make sure tablets and other devices are charged and shows or games are downloaded

This may seem obvious, but charge your kiddo’s tablet before leaving the house. Trust us. Future you will thank you. It’s also a good idea to prep some entertainment that doesn’t depend on Wi-Fi.

Plus, you should pack spare batteries, cables, and external charging devices. And definitely don’t forget the kid-friendly headphones.

Know — and understand — how to gate-check items

Most airlines allow parents to gate-check bulky items, like strollers and car seats, free of charge. Check with your airline in advance or ask about their gate-check protocols when you arrive at the airport.

When it comes time to pack, checklists can be helpful. After all, knowing what to bring and remembering to bring it are two very different things.

These must-have items are essential — for the airport, plane, and beyond:

  • stroller
  • car seat or harness
  • underwear/diapers
  • baby wipes
  • antibacterial wipes for arm rests and tray tables
  • a cozy blanket
  • change of clothes (for your toddler and for you)
  • lovey or favorite toy
  • books
  • tablet with headphones
  • stacking cups, puzzles, or other quiet and portable games
  • crayons and coloring sheets
  • quick, no-mess snacks — think single-serving snack packs of Goldfish, Teddy Grahams, etc.
  • a packed meal for longer flights
  • bottles or sippy cups with lids

While traveling with toddlers can be tricky, it’s not impossible. With a little research and planning, you can fly with your toddler — and (maybe) even enjoy it.

Plus, many airlines go the extra mile to make your experience enjoyable. So, take a breath, plan, and pack smartly.

Safe travels to you and your little one!



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Here’s why the CDC is still asking you to avoid travel


Here’s why the CDC is still asking you to avoid travel

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.



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I ordered a COVID-19 test through DoorDash — here’s what this new service is like


I ordered a COVID-19 test through DoorDash — here’s what this new service is like

Advertiser Disclosure


Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.



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US Coronavirus: Increased traveling and spring break crowds are making US health experts nervous. Here’s why


On Friday alone, the country saw more than 1.4 million passengers in airports nationwide — which is a pandemic-era record.

“What we’re doing is essentially spreading the B.1.1.7 variant across the nation,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN on Sunday.

On Saturday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber declared a state of emergency and set a curfew, telling CNN too many people were coming “without the intention of following the rules, and the result has been a level of chaos and disorder that is just something more than we can endure.”
Florida has so far reported the highest number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant — which experts say is highly contagious and potentially more deadly — in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Miami Beach officers shoot pepper balls into spring break crowds to enforce emergency curfew

“I wish that folks would at least mask up,” emergency physician Dr. Megan Ranney told CNN Sunday, referring to the spring break crowds. “I expect that very few of those young adults have been vaccinated and watching them gather together in those crowds, even outside, gives me fear that they’re going to bring that B.1.1.7 variant back to their home state and spread it.”

Other experts have voiced the same concern, warning all the returning vacationers could help fuel Covid-19 surges in other parts of the country, especially now that vaccination numbers are still so low. About 13.3% of the US population has been fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.
The CDC currently continues to recommend that Americans delay travel. And earlier this month, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned that every time travel escalates, a spike in infections tend to follow, citing July 4, Labor Day and the winter holiday season.

“We are very worried about transmissible variants. A lot of them have come through our travel corridors, so we’re being extra cautious right now with travel,” Walensky had told CNN.

Travelers wait in line at ticketing in Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 11.

Could US see another surge?

The spread of variants, in combination with the still small percentage of fully vaccinated Americans, is why experts have stressed state leaders should not be lifting Covid-19 measures just yet — and Americans should be doubling down on what helps curb the spread of the virus: wearing face masks, avoiding crowds, social distancing and regular washing hands.
Another coronavirus surge is unlikely but the pandemic isn't going away, former FDA chief says

That’s because the number of prior infections and now vaccinations in the US have begun to form “enough of a backstop” to prevent another spike, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“I think what you could see is a plateauing for a period of time before we continue on a downward decline — in large part because B.1.1.7 is becoming more prevalent, in large part because we’re pulling back too quickly, with respect to taking off our masks and lifting the mitigation,” he said.

A more contagious coronavirus variant is spreading across the US. Can vaccines stop it?
But other experts have said that plateauing of cases the US is reporting could serve as a predictor for another surge. Emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen told CNN last week she believes the US could be on the cusp of another surge.

Others say it’s hard to predict what will happen.

“It’s very hard to say,” Hotez told CNN. “We’re in a race, that’s what it comes down to. We’ve gotten a single dose (of Covid-19 vaccine) into about a quarter of the US population … and it could go either way right now.”

“This is why it’s really important for the governors to stay the course and to implement masks and social distancing,” he added.

Vaccine hesitancy is ‘worrisome,’ governor says

So far, more than 81.4 million Americans have gotten at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data. That’s roughly 24.5% of the US population.

More than 44 million — about 13.3% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, the data shows.

While the number continues to climb and leaders across the country employ more methods to get shots into arms faster — like opening more mass vaccination sites and expanding eligibility requirements — challenges still lie in the way of getting the country to herd immunity.

Those challenges include vaccine hesitancy and political divisions. A recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS shows that while 92% of Democrats say they have gotten a dose of the vaccine or plan to get one, that falls to 50% among Republicans.

Los Angeles teachers union approves plan to reopen public schools in April

When asked why he believed there is skepticism among Republicans, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN he thought it is a “natural resistance to government and skepticism of it.”

“The hesitancy is worrisome not just here, but all across the country, and I expect as a country we’ll get to 50% vaccination rate of the population. But we’re going to have a harder time getting from 50% to 70%. And it’s about overcoming the skepticism, it is about education … but it’s also confidence,” he said.

As more Americans see others get the vaccine, the governor said he expects the acceptance rate of vaccines to go up.

In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson said late last week that while he encourages everyone to get vaccinated, “there’s still going to be a certain amount of people that’s not going to take the vaccine and they have every right to do that.”

“We got to do a better job of making sure everybody understands the importance of the vaccine, and yet maintain the respect of people that don’t want to take a vaccine, and it is going to be a challenge to see how many people we can get done, but we’re going to do everything we can.”

CNN’s Chuck Johnston, Carma Hassan, Deanna Hackney and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.



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Mass. Will Relax its Travel Restrictions Soon. Here’s What You Need to Know – NBC Boston


Beginning on Monday, March 22, Massachusetts will relax some of its COVID travel rules, turning its current travel order into an advisory.

The new advisory means you won’t have to quarantine upon returning to Massachusetts if you’re out of state for under 24 hours, get a negative COVID test within 72 hours, or are a critical worker or someone who is fully vaccinated.

“I think these are all ways towards opening , towards re-opening and re-starting travel,” said Dr. Lin Chen, the director of the Travel Medicine Center at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. “I think we want to take it slowly and cautiously.”

Dr. Chen said as more people are looking to plan trips, it’s important to remember not to let your guard down. She said if you plan to fly, there are ways for people to stay safe.

“They should still keep the physical distance from others, they should still wear masks, they should try to avoid crowded areas,” said Dr. Chen.

Needham-based Trip Advisor said they are seeing a correlation between the vaccine rollout and pent up demand for travel.

“This month, we have seen an astounding 95% increase year-over-year in travel searches among Massachusetts residents,” said Brian Hoyt, Head of Global Communications for Trip Advisor.

As people are starting to search the website for vacation destinations, Hoyt said safety remains top of mind.

“They’ll be looking for things like, is a hotel still requiring guests to wear masks, is there a sanitizer readily available in the hotel, what are the policies of a business,” he said.





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If you’re planning to travel to Mexico, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Editor’s note: Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on March 12.

If you’re planning to travel to Mexico, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Mexico is open to travelers. There is no need to provide a negative PCR test or quarantine on arrival, though most resorts ask guests to complete health questionnaires. The land border between Mexico and the United States is closed for nonessential travel through at least March 21. However, air travel is allowed.

American travelers should remember they will need a negative Covid-19 test result taken 72 hours or less before travel to return to the US. The US Embassy says results for PCR and antigen tests are reliably available within 72 hours in Mexico.

What’s on offer

Incredible food, sensational beaches, buzzing towns and historical remains. While the beach resorts around Cancun attract the bulk of visitors, those who want more than a fly and flop go for Mexico City’s cultural heft, the coastline of Baja California and traditional towns such as Oaxaca.

Who can go

Mexico has some of the loosest border restrictions, currently, with anyone allowed to travel by air for business or leisure.

What are the restrictions?

Travelers to the country must complete a health declaration form and scan the QR code it generates on arrival. There is no need to take a test before departure or undertake any form of quarantine. Those concerned they may have symptoms should ask for the Sanidad Internacional health organization.

The land border with the United States remains shut to all but essential travel, while the southern border with Guatemala has also been subject to periodic closures.

What’s the Covid situation?

Mexico had logged more than 2.1 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 193,000 deaths as of March 12 (although some believe the figure is higher). President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has come under fire for taking a laissez-faire approach to the virus. Restrictions have not been far reaching and life has gone on as normal for many, which critics say has led to high death and infection rates.

What can visitors expect?

Mexico has a four-tier traffic light system of restrictions, with red signifying maximum restrictions, orange limiting capacity in public spaces and at work to 30%, yellow allowing for all work to resume and public gatherings to take place, and green meaning there are no restrictions in place. See a color-coded map here.

As of March 12, most states were categorized as yellow and orange. Chiapas and Campeche states in southern Mexico were listed as green. No states were listed as red.

Quintana Roo, where popular tourist destinations Cancun and Playa del Carmen are located, was listed as yellow.

Mexico City, still designated orange, has taken stringent measures, with fluctuating restrictions on restaurants and bars.

Visitors are likely to find the situation different depending on where in the country they travel, with local restrictions varying.

Useful links

Mexico health questionnaire

Sanidad Internacional

Covid-19 government page

US Embassy in Mexico

Our latest coverage





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Traveling by RV this summer? Here’s what you need to know


Travelers are gearing up for summer getaways, but with more than 20 states reporting spikes in COVID-19 cases in June, vacations involving air travel and large gatherings are likely to remain on hold. If you’re driven to distraction by wanderlust, here’s a tip: Take a spin in an RV.

The pandemic has fueled interest in recreational vehicles—RVs, campervans, and travel trailers. As a result, motor home sales and rentals have dramatically ramped up. While industry-wide data has yet to be fully compiled, RV dealers that reopened in early May report monthly sales are up 170 percent year over year; bookings through rental site RVshare for the Fourth of July weekend are up 81 percent over 2019.

What’s more, the duration of rentals has increased. “We have seen an uptick in the amount people are spending because the average rental period has increased,” says Jon Gray, of peer-to-peer booking site RVshare. “Instead of a long weekend, renters are booking for an average of seven to 10 days.”

The dip in gas prices—expected to remain low throughout the summer months—is helping to make 2020 the Year of the Camper. “People know it’s the only safe way to travel,” says Gigi Stetler of RV Sales of Broward in Florida, and founder of RV Advisor, a member-driven advice site.

Navigating the nation with a trailer in tow takes some planning, but the learning curve should not scare travelers from wheeling away. Here’s what you need to know to get comfortable with a campervan.

(Related: Follow this photographer on eight epic drives across the U.S.)

Getting in gear

Start by looking into booking companies. Go RVing and Cruise America will connect you with rental centers in the U.S. and Canada that offer a range of vehicle sizes. RVshare and Outdoorsy are peer-to-peer booking sites offering everything from popup trailers to motor homes.

Most rental companies charge a daily rate, which averages $165 for an RV or camper, according to a study by Go RV Rentals. Some also charge a fee per mile traveled. If you’re looking for eco-friendly models, TRA Certification has a list of brands that are certified green, from parts to practices.

(Related: Read more practical tips for planning a campervan vacation.)

In addition to the daily rate, first-time renters should think about additional costs—gas, food, and campground fees, to name a few—to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road. Vehicle options abound, and many renters advise to pick an RV with a bathroom. Especially during the pandemic, renters should insist that their RV has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. RVshare, for example, has partnered with TaskRabbit to offer professional cleaning services to camper owners.

Most rentals do not require a special driver’s license. Ahead of booking make sure to ask about rental insurance and roadside assistance plans. Take advantage of a quick RV training session before revving up. If you plan on bringing along a furry friend, check the pet policies specific to your rental. Perhaps most important is to book early. As for incidentals in peer-to-peer rentals, “you should speak to the RV owner about what they keep on board for their renters, such as linens and cookware,” suggests Gray.

Owning the road

For Aaron Levine, owning a home on wheels has been a longtime dream. “I fish, hike, love being in nature,” he says. For him, the attraction of owning a camper is the freedom and mobility that goes with it. During the pandemic, the Phoenix, Arizona, resident finally locked down a deal on a new 28-foot-long Gulf Stream travel trailer. “It’s a way to stay active—and to stay away from people,” he says. The outdoor enthusiast has already taken his trailer on the road twice and plans a summer of trips.

If you’ve fallen in love with the idea of a home on wheels, you might want to go in for the long haul. Levine suggests road-trippers take their time and do their research, especially since prices can range from a few thousand dollars for a previously owned folding or “pop-up” camping trailer to well over $500,000 for a top-of-the-range, Class A motor home.

“Buy something that you know is going to work for you and your family,” says Levine. “Think about the activities you’re going to do.” If your plans involve regularly traversing hairpin mountain passes or embarking on day-long hikes, a campervan or truck camper would best fit the bill. Conversely, 45-foot motor homes equipped with cooking appliances and large wastewater holding tanks work well for large family get-togethers.

Newbies should try to support local dealers, as it will help mitigate maintenance complications down the road. “Do business with your local dealer, because you’re going to need them for service work,” says Stetler.

Where to go

The RV boom is taking off just as the country’s 18,000 campgrounds are re-opening, albeit with restrictions. Because states are at different stages in their response to the pandemic, those restrictions vary from campground to campground. As sites re-open, they’re likely to book up quickly.

Those headed to national parks will find limited capacity among the National Park Service’s 8,585 motor home pads, though NPS officials say they’re “continuing to increase access on a daily basis.” At Yosemite National Park, which recently reopened, only two of 10 campsites with RV facilities are open, as of June 15: Upper Pines (RVs up to 35 feet long, trailers up to 24 feet) and Wawona Horse (93 RV and trailer pads). These open sites don’t have hookups, which means no water, electricity, or access to dumping. Campsites with hookups tend to be more convenient, but cost more.

In Yellowstone National Park, the Tower Fall campground and Fishing Bridge RV Park are closed for the year. But Madison, Bay Bridge, and Grant Village campgrounds are open, with the remaining seven sites scheduled to follow suit on June 19 and July 1.

(Related: Here’s how to visit national parks as lockdowns lift.)

Be sure to follow all park guidelines, especially during these pandemic times. “We encourage all visitors to recreate responsibly by following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and follow “Leave No Trace” principles when you visit,” says Cynthia Hernandez, National Parks Service spokesperson. For a full list of open campgrounds, check individual park websites.

Operators of privately owned campsites are welcoming campers with discounts and assurances of strict physical distancing rules, but that means doing away with services that, for many, make them attractive alternatives to national parks: dining facilities, playgrounds, dog boarding, and communal fire pits, as well as fewer staff on site.

Whit’s End Campground in West Ossipee, New Hampshire, is currently open only to New Hampshire residents and out-of-staters who have self-quarantined for 14 days. The site’s swimming pool and common areas re-opened on June 15, and though holiday weekends are busy, there’s good availability throughout the summer, according to management.

The Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams, Arizona, has 124 RV spaces and reports availability throughout the summer months. Some facilities, such as kenneling and communal fireplaces, are closed, so campers should call or email for the latest updates.

A short drive west of Zion National Park in Utah, Zion River Resort reports high occupancy at its 122-space campground for the coming weeks, but from mid-July availability increases. Management says a typical year would see many camping enthusiasts from Europe starting in July, but that’s not likely this year, opening up more options for U.S. travelers.

No matter where you go, be adaptable when plans change and mishaps happen, says Alexandra Keeling, who’s been traveling the country with her “tiny tin can” trailer for more than a year. “Road life will always throw you a curveball. It makes traveling so much more fun when you can go with the flow,” she says. “I’ve made some of my favorite memories in places I never planned to be and some of the toughest blows put me in the position for some of the greatest experiences.”

Stephen Starr is an Irish journalist and author who reported from the Middle East for a decade before moving to Ohio. Find Stephen on Twitter and Instagram.





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Here’s why experts say the US may be fooled by improving COVID-19 numbers and what that means for the summer – Boston News, Weather, Sports


(CNN) — Covid-19 numbers may be on the decline in the United States after a year of collective grief. But with tens of thousands of deaths expected over the next few months, experts are warning Americans not to drop their guard just yet.

“I think we are going to get fooled,” Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said Thursday. “I think what’s going to happen is you’re going to see that as we enter the summer months, numbers are going to go down, people will think great, we’re good.”

He added: “And then, if we don’t get to what I think is going to be at least 80% population immunity from natural infection or immunization, when the winter comes, you’re going to see a surge again.”

Over the last seven days, the US has averaged 56,240 new cases per day — the lowest it has been since mid-October — and 1,437 deaths per day, which is the lowest the country has seen since November 19.

But if policies stay in place as they are now, about 23,000 more people could die of the virus by April, according to a projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Yet many states have begun to relax measures, including mask mandates. And because of fewer masks and more people moving around with more transmissible variants, IHME increased its prediction of Covid-19 deaths by July 1 by an additional 22,000 people.

Overall, the IHME predicts nearly 600,000 Covid-19 deaths by July 1, up from the current number of around 530,000 recorded fatalities.

What the US does next could impact the trajectory of the pandemic, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said in an NBC Nightly News interview.

“I think March and April are just such important, critical times,” she said. “On the one hand, you have this hyper-transmissible virus that could result in another surge after spring break.

“On the other hand, we are scaling up vaccinations so very fast, and what we really want to do is just give those vaccines a fighting chance to overcome and not let this virus surge again.”

 

‘We have to be humble to with this virus’

 

For those who are vaccinated, CDC released new guidelines Monday, maintaining recommendations against travel for those who have been inoculated.

Some have questioned whether the guidelines are too strict.

“We have to be humble with this virus,” Walensky said in the interview with NBC Nightly News. “Every time we felt like we had it under control, we had an enormous surge.”

Once more people are vaccinated and case numbers come down, the CDC may revise its guidance, Walensky said.

A year after much of the country was shut down by the virus, more than 98 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States, according to CDC data published Thursday.

About 1 in 10 people in the US — about 33.9 million people — are fully vaccinated, and close to 1 in 5 people — more than 64 million — have received one dose.

In an address Thursday, President Joe Biden promised vaccine appointments would open to all US adults by May 1, and by July 4 the US could be celebrating its independence from the pandemic.

“If July 4th comes around and your family has been vaccinated and your neighbors down the street have been vaccinated, yeah you can absolutely get together for a barbecue,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday.

“Getting shots in the arm is not just the ticket to vaccination, it’s the ticket to getting people back in offices, to getting movie theaters open, to getting ballparks filled, to getting people back in airplanes,” he said.

 

Turning attention to ‘long Covid’

 

But even if the spread of the virus is managed within the US in the coming months, the nation will still be contending with Covid-19 survivors who suffer the effects of the disease long after they were infected, said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

“We know that 525,000 of our fellow Americans have died, but we also know that tens of millions have been infected, didn’t die, thankfully, and recovered. But I want to know what the long-term effects are for those individuals,” Jha told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

“I worry that we are really just seeing the tip of the iceberg when we think about long Covid, that there’s going to be a lot of disability, a lot of suffering that is going to be with us for a long time,” Jha said. “I hope that that is not true. But that’s what I worry about, and I’d like to understand that better.”

One recent study found that 30% of those with Covid-19 continue to have symptoms up to nine months after initial infection, and the National Institutes of Health has launched a $1 billion research effort into studying the long-term health effects.

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Here’s Where Americans Are Looking to Travel First, According to Expedia


Here’s Where Americans Are Looking to Travel First, According to Expedia | Travel + Leisure

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MSC Cruises is still expanding. Here’s how it plans to raise its U.S. profile: Travel Weekly


Johanna Jainchill

Johanna Jainchill

It might come as a surprise to North Americans that Europe-based MSC Cruises is close on Carnival Cruise Line’s heels to compete for the title of world’s second largest cruise brand, behind Royal Caribbean International, which overtook Carnival several years ago.

Carnival lost four ships in 2020 as part of parent company Carnival Corp’s. pandemic-induced downsizing, while only adding one, the Mardi Gras. The brand currently has 25 vessels in its roster.  

MSC has 18 ships, but it is the fastest-growing cruise line in the world. It took delivery last month of the 4,842-passenger MSC Virtuosa and will welcome its 19th vessel, the 4,540-passenger MSC Seashore, this summer. MSC has four more ships in the pipeline between now and 2025, with options for six additional ships in place through 2030, while Carnival is only scheduled take delivery of one more ship in that timeframe, the 5,250-passenger Carnival Celebration, which is due in 2022.

MSC is based in Switzerland, but its primary market is in Italy, and it is very well known to European cruisers. However, and despite its size, it has work to do to cement brand recognition in North America. And one of the key ways it had been doing that — and plans to do even more once cruising resumes — is by getting travel advisors on its ships. Ken Muskat, COO of MSC Cruises USA, said it is a major focus.

“In the past, when we had travel advisors onboard, they were five times more likely to sell MSC,” he said.

Muskat knows that brands like Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line have each been around for about 50 years and “clearly have significant brand recognition.”

“With MSC, our big push in the U.S. market was in 2013 when Divina finally came year round,” he said. “The brand recognition is not where we want it to be and has huge upside potential. The good news is we’re making fast progress. As we introduce more consumers and ships to the market and with the opening of Ocean Cay and having four ships here instead of one, all those things allow us to increase the brand recognition.”

Ocean Cay, MSC’s private island in the Bahamas, opened just before the pandemic hit, so few cruisers or travel advisors have had a chance to see it.

Related: Private destinations will be key to cruising’s restart

Also big, Muskat said, is MSC’s plan to take delivery of two ships this year, a bright spot for the industry and U.S. travel advisors.  

“Good news like this is very welcome,” he said. “The fact that we have two new ships coming out this year and that the Seashore is coming later this year to Florida, is super exciting and it gives us something nice to look forward to and to talk about, which is great for travel advisors.”

Muskat said that putting the new Seashore in the U.s. signifies MSC’s “growth and commitment in the US market.”

“When we start spreading more news about Seashore in next couple months, it will help us with brand recognition but also just get the excitement of the industry back up and going again,” he said.

MSC was the first cruise line to launch service during the pandemic; it has operated in Europe since last summer carrying more than 40,000 passengers. Muskat said it has helped boost confidence in cruise and travel.

“I think it is adding to consumer confidence and helping the whole industry,” he said. “We are showing  that you can cruise during a pandemic and have a great time. That you can  follow all the health and safety standards we have in place on our ships and still have a great cruise vacation.”

But at the end of the day, nothing beats the actual cruise experience.

“We’re very focused on getting travel advisors onboard and involved in MSC Academy and learning about the brand and really seeing what MSC is about today, which is very different than what it was even five years ago, let alone 10 years ago,” Muskat said. “We highly depend on the travel advisor to experience the brand, and that’s helping us bring the brand recognition up as well. When we do start up again, our goal is to get travel advisors back onboard.”



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