Employees at food processing facilities, which had some of the country’s largest known coronavirus outbreaks early in the pandemic, are now eligible for vaccines in at least 26 states, a New York Times survey found.
The expansion of vaccines to food processing workers comes amid rapid widening of eligibility, especially for essential workers at greater risk of contracting the virus. Almost every state is vaccinating some subset of frontline workers, but the list of eligible professions varies widely. In at least six states, food processing workers are eligible in certain counties but not in others.
Meat and poultry processing facilities have largely remained open even as large outbreaks infected thousands of workers and killed dozens in the first months of the pandemic. The virus started to spread rapidly in meatpacking facilities as assembly-line workers stood side by side in tight quarters.
A JBS USA pork production plant in Worthington, Minn., with more than 700 recorded coronavirus cases held a mass vaccination event on Friday. JBS USA, a subsidiary of JBS S.A., a Brazilian company that is the world’s largest meat-processing firm, has offered employees who receive the vaccine $100 incentives.
“There was a lot of skepticism among members, for a lot of different reasons,” said Matt Utecht, who represents the Worthington workers as president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 union. He said union representatives went to the facility repeatedly in recent months to share information about the vaccine, and signed up about 1,500 of the union’s roughly 1,850 members.
“It’s been a daily grind of educating, talking, communicating,” he said.
The production and distribution of vaccines has been steadily ramping up in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday that about 79.4 million people had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 43 million people who have been fully vaccinated. About 2.25 million doses are given each day on average, up from less than a million two months ago.
With demand for vaccines still outpacing supply, states have faced competing interests in deciding which groups to prioritize. Eligibility opened to many food processing workers in early March across much of the Midwest, where meatpacking and food production are a major part of the economy and often a source of employment for recent immigrants.
In Kansas, where food processing workers are now eligible for the vaccine, nearly 4,000 reported cases have been tied to outbreaks in meatpacking plants, more than in any other setting except long-term care centers and correctional facilities.
“This is a livelihood that supports a number of immigrant populations,” said Marci Nielsen, the Kansas governor’s chief adviser on Covid-19. “And it was very important for the governor to send out a signal that she wants to keep those families safe and to keep these industries open.”
Bonnie G. Wong and
The coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford provided strong protection against Covid-19 in a large clinical trial in the United States, completely preventing the worst outcomes from the disease, according to results announced on Monday.
Although no clinical trial is large enough to rule out extremely rare side effects, AstraZeneca reported that its study turned up no serious safety issues. Government officials and public health experts expressed hope that the results would improve global confidence in the vaccine, which was shaken this month when more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, temporarily suspended the shot’s use over concerns about possible rare side effects.
The trial, involving more than 32,000 participants, was the largest test of its kind for the shot. The AstraZeneca vaccine was 79 percent effective overall in preventing symptomatic infections, higher than observed in previous clinical trials, the company announced in a news release. The trial also showed that the vaccine offered strong protection for older people, who had not been as well represented in earlier studies.
The fresh data may have arrived too late to make much difference in the United States, where the vaccine is not yet authorized and unlikely to become available before May. By then, federal officials predict, there will be enough vaccine doses for all of the nation’s adults from the three vaccines that have already been authorized.
Even so, the better-than-expected results are a heartening turn for AstraZeneca’s shot, whose low cost and simple storage requirements have made it a vital piece of the drive to vaccinate the world.
The results could also help ease concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe. In an effort to boost waning public confidence, many European political leaders have gotten the injections in recent days.
Regulators in Europe initiated a safety review of AstraZeneca’s vaccine earlier this month after a small number of people who had recently been inoculated developed blood clots and abnormal bleeding. The trial did not turn up any sign of such problems, although some safety issues can only be detected in the real world, once a drug or vaccine has been given to millions of people.
AstraZeneca said on Monday that it would continue to analyze the new data and prepare to apply in the coming weeks for emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine has already been approved in more than 70 countries, but clearance from American regulators would bolster its global reputation.
With Ramadan less than a month away, some Muslim organizations in the United States have begun addressing a critical question: whether the dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast prohibits Muslims from receiving vaccine injections during daylight hours.
The executive director of the Islamic Society of North America, Basharat Saleem, said that numerous scholars of Islamic law had been consulted on the matter.
“The answer is no,” he said. “It does not break the fast.”
The group joined with dozens of others last year in organizing a National Muslim Task Force on Covid-19, which has taken advisement from Muslim jurists. They were in general agreement, Mr. Saleem said, that getting a Covid-19 vaccine was acceptable during Ramadan or at any other time. A shot “will not invalidate the fast because it has no nutritional value and it is injected into the muscle,” the task force announced, a ruling that in the past has covered flu shots and other vaccinations.
Whether vaccinations are permitted during Ramadan is not only a concern among Muslims, and perhaps not even the chief one; there have been questions around the world as well about the presence of forbidden ingredients, such as pork products, in the vaccines. Some have also expressed misgivings about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine similar to those of some Catholic leaders, given that cells used in its development and production had a remote connection to abortion.
Muslim health care workers, even those who have been publicly urging people to get vaccinated, have acknowledged the ethical difficulties.
“These decisions are a matter of personal conscience,” said Dr. Hasan Shanawani, the president of American Muslim Health Professionals and a practicing pulmonologist in Michigan. But the preservation of life is one of the highest principles in Islam, he said, and given the current scarcity of vaccines in many places, the ethics, to him, were straightforward.
Declining a vaccine means “potentially putting all of us at risk,” said Dr. Shanawani, who has treated hundreds of Covid-19 patients over the past year. “Take the vaccine that’s available to you. God is the most forgiving.” When the present emergency has passed, he added, then a person can be more discriminating about which vaccine to take.
Haaris Ahmad, the president of a large and diverse mosque in the Detroit suburbs, said he had heard all of these concerns. He has assured members of the mosque that scholars are in broad agreement that a vaccination would not break the Ramadan fast, and he has also told people that if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only readily available option, they should take it.
But he also acknowledged that people would rather not have to think about these things, especially during the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. So his mosque is hosting a vaccine clinic next Monday night, which would allow people to get in two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine just before Ramadan begins in mid-April. And while the event was initially advertised with general language about vaccines, Mr. Ahmad said, the latest flier includes more explicit guidance about what will not be on offer at the clinic: “NOTE,” it reads, “Not J&J.”
One day after the spring break oasis of South Beach descended into chaos, with the police struggling to control overwhelming crowds and making scores of arrests, officials in Miami Beach decided on Sunday to extend an emergency curfew for up to three weeks.
Officials went so far as to approve closing the famed Ocean Drive for four nights a week until April 12, including to pedestrians, during the 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Residents, hotel guests and employees of local businesses are exempt.
The strip, frequented by celebrities and tourists alike, was the scene of a much-criticized skirmish on Saturday night in which police officers used pepper balls to disperse a large crowd of sometimes unruly and mostly unmasked revelers just hours after the curfew had been introduced.
The restrictions were a stunning concession to the city’s inability to control unwieldy crowds. The city and the state of Florida have aggressively courted visitors.
“I believe it’s a lot of pent-up demand from the pandemic and people wanting to get out,” David Richardson, a member of the Miami Beach City Commission, said on Sunday. “And our state has been publicly advertised as being open, so that’s contributing to the issue.”
In an emergency meeting, the commission approved maintaining the curfew in the city’s South Beach entertainment district from Thursday through Sunday for three more weeks, which is when spring break typically ends. Bridges along several causeways that connect Miami Beach with the mainland will also continue to be shut during the curfew.
Law enforcement officials said many people had been drawn to the city for spring break this year because it has relatively few virus restrictions, mirroring the state at large. And hotel rooms and flights have been deeply discounted, to make up for the months of lost time.
Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami Beach, has recently endured one of the nation’s worst outbreaks, and more than 32,000 Floridians have died from the virus, an unthinkable cost that the state’s leaders rarely acknowledge. The state is also thought to have the highest concentration of B.1.1.7, the more contagious and possibly more lethal virus variant first identified in Britain.
JERUSALEM — Vaccinated Israelis are working out in gyms and dining in restaurants. They’re partying at nightclubs and cheering at soccer matches by the thousands.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking credit for bringing Israel “back to life,” as he calls it, and banking on the country’s giddy, post-pandemic mood of liberation to put him over the top in a close election on Tuesday.
But nothing is quite that simple in Israeli politics.
Even as most Israelis appreciate the government’s world-leading vaccination campaign, many worry that the grand social and economic reopening may prove premature and suspect that the timing is political.
Instead of a transparent reopening process led by public health professionals, “decisions are made at the last minute, at night, by the cabinet,” said Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health in Jerusalem. “The timing, right before the election, is intended to declare mission accomplished.”
The parliamentary election on Tuesday will be the country’s fourth in two years. Mr. Netanyahu is on trial on corruption charges and analysts say his best chance of avoiding conviction lies in heading a new right-wing government. He has staked everything on his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
He takes personal credit for the country’s inoculation campaign, which has fully vaccinated about half the population of nine million — outpacing the rest of the world — and he has declared victory over the virus.
“Israel is the world champion in vaccinations, the first country in the world to exit from the health corona and the economic corona,” he said at a pre-election conference last week.
The vaccination campaign has been powered by early delivery of several million doses from Pfizer, and Mr. Netanyahu has presented himself as the only candidate who could have pulled off that deal, boasting of his personal appeals to Pfizer’s chief executive, Albert Bourla, who, as a son of Holocaust survivors, has great affinity for Israel.
Mr. Netanyahu even posted a clip from “South Park,” the American animated sitcom, acknowledging Israel’s vaccination supremacy.
But experts said his claim that the virus was in the rearview mirror was overly optimistic.
The rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines, achieved at record speed and financed by massive public funding in the United States, the European Union and Britain, represents a great triumph of the pandemic. Governments partnered with drugmakers, pouring in billions of dollars to procure raw materials, finance clinical trials and retrofit factories. Billions more were committed to buy the finished product.
But this Western success has created stark inequity. Residents of wealthy and middle-income countries have received about 90 percent of the nearly 400 million vaccines delivered so far. Under current projections, many of the rest will have to wait years.
A growing chorus of health officials and advocacy groups worldwide are calling for Western governments to use aggressive powers — most of them rarely or never used before — to force companies to publish vaccine recipes, share their know-how and ramp up manufacturing.
The prospect of billions of people waiting years to be vaccinated poses a health threat to even the richest countries. One example: In Britain, where the vaccine rollout has been strong, health officials are tracking a virus variant that emerged in South Africa, where vaccine coverage is weak. That variant may be able to blunt the effect of vaccines, meaning even vaccinated people might get sick.
But on March 30, a U.S. patent is expected to be issued on a five-year-old invention in a National Institutes of Health lab that swaps a pair of amino acids in the coronavirus spike protein. This feat of molecular engineering is at the heart of at least five major Covid-19 vaccines, and the United States government will control that patent.
The new patent presents an opportunity — and some argue the last best chance — to exact leverage over the drug companies producing the vaccines and pressure them to expand access to less affluent countries.
ROME — If, as it’s said, all roads lead to Rome, then they intersect at Piazza Venezia, the downtown hub of the Italian capital, watched over by a traffic officer on a pedestal who choreographs streamlined circulation out of automotive chaos.
For many Romans and tourists alike, those traffic controllers are as much a symbol of the Eternal City as are the Colosseum or the Pantheon.
That may explain the media frenzy last week over the return of the pedestal (plus its traffic cop) after a yearlong hiatus while the piazza was being repaved — even though there was not much traffic to direct, because of the widespread lockdown that began last week in hopes of containing a surge in coronavirus cases.
“In this difficult period, I think that it was seen as a sign of something returning to normal,” said Fabio Grillo, 53, who, with 16 years under his belt, is the senior member of the team of four or five municipal police officers who direct traffic from the Piazza Venezia pedestal.
In rain or sleet, or sweltering through Rome’s sultry summers, officers have directed traffic from the Piazza Venezia pedestal near the mouth of the Via del Corso, one of Rome’s main streets, for as long as anyone can remember. And the gestures they make with their white-gloved hands are things that all Italian motorists dutifully memorize for their driver’s tests. (Important note: Two hands straight out with the palms facing motorists is equivalent to a red light.)
“It’s been compared to conducting an orchestra,” Mr. Grillo said.
Apart from regular traffic, Piazza Venezia is also a crossroads that leads to City Hall, the Parliament, Italy’s presidential palace and a national monument where visiting heads of state routinely pay homage — which all contributes to the tangle at the hub.
The coronavirus, once seemingly in retreat in India, is again rippling across the country. On Monday, the government reported almost 47,000 new cases, the highest number in more than four months. It also reported 212 new deaths from the virus, the most since early January.
The outbreak is centered in the state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, the country’s financial hub. Entire districts of the state have gone back into lockdown. Scientists are investigating whether a new strain found there is more virulent, like variants found in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.
Officials are under pressure to aggressively ramp up testing and vaccination, especially in Mumbai, to avoid disruptions like the dramatic nationwide lockdown last year, which resulted in a recession.
But less than 3 percent of India’s population of 1.3 billion has received a jab, including about half of health care workers.
The campaign has also been plagued by public skepticism. The government approved a domestically developed vaccine, called Covaxin, before its safety and efficacy trials were even over, though preliminary findings since then have suggested it works.
The other jab available in India is the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which was suspended in some countries after a number of patients reported blood clots and strokes, though most have since reversed course and scientists haven’t found a link between the shots and the patients’ conditions.
In other developments around the world:
Taiwan, one of the few places in the world to successfully contain the coronavirus from the beginning of the pandemic, kicked off its vaccination drive on Monday. Premier Su Tseng-chang and Chen Shih-chung, the health minister, were among the first to be inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, the only one authorized so far. The vaccinations were widely televised in Taiwan, part of an effort to increase confidence in the vaccine. Taiwan has been relatively slow to start inoculating, in part because it has had so few reported cases: As of Monday, the all-time total was 1,006, with 10 deaths, on an island of 24 million people.
The Chinese company CanSino Biologics said on Monday that Hungary had authorized its Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, the first European country to do so. The vaccine, known as Convidecia, is a single-dose product developed with the Chinese military. Hungary is also using another Chinese-made vaccine, from Sinovac, and Russia’s Sputnik V, as well as the Western ones approved elsewhere in the European Union.
France’s labor minister, Élisabeth Borne, has been hospitalized with Covid-19, the authorities announced on Monday, a first for a top French official. “Her health is improving,” according to a statement from her ministry. President Emmanuel Macron had the virus in December, and several other ministers have announced positive test results, including the culture minister two days ago.
Health officials in South Africa sold unused doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to 14 other states in the African Union, Reuters reported on Sunday. It paused the use of the vaccine last month after a small trial showed it offered only minimal protection against mild to moderate illness caused by the dominant local variant of the virus.
The distributor of China’s Sinopharm vaccine in the United Arab Emirates says it has started offering a “very small number” of people a third shot after these recipients reported insufficient levels of antibodies following a two-dose regimen.
Australia and New Zealand are moving closer to opening a travel bubble, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand saying on Monday that she would announce a date for the start of quarantine-free travel on April 6. Both countries have all but eliminated the coronavirus. Though Australia has lifted its quarantine requirement for passengers arriving from New Zealand, New Zealand has yet to reciprocate, despite pressure from opposition parties and the country’s tourism sector.
To many Canadians, it seemed decidedly unneighborly. Canada’s initial coronavirus vaccination program moved at a stately pace over the winter, while inoculations in the United States raced ahead. But Washington was unwilling to share any of its stockpile of tens of millions of doses of a vaccine it had yet to approve for use by Americans.
Last week, that shifted. After weeks of suggesting that any vaccine diplomacy was well into the future, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Thursday that the United States was planning to share 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with Canada and 2.5 million doses with Mexico.
The White House announcement seemed to catch Ottawa officials off guard. Hours passed before Anita Anand, the cabinet minister responsible for buying vaccines, issued a statement that read more like an insurance policy than a note of thanks.
“After numerous discussions with the Biden administration, Canada is in the process of finalizing an exchange agreement,” it read in part.
Ms. Anand and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had little more to add on Friday afternoon, saying only that the talks were still underway and that the details would come later.
From Ms. Psaki’s remarks, it appears that the United States will officially just be lending Canada and Mexico the vaccines. It is unclear whether they will ultimately have to be replaced in kind or if the loan will be of the forgivable nature. She also said that the United States might soon share surpluses of other vaccines.
Melanie Allen, a high school English teacher, was in a bind. She works in one state and lives in another. And both denied her a Covid-19 vaccine.
Ms. Allen, who lives in Chatham, N.H., but works in Maine, said she was told that she was not eligible for a vaccine by officials in both states. Although teachers are now eligible for vaccination in every state, her New Hampshire residency blocked her from receiving the vaccine in Maine, she said.
And in New Hampshire, she was told she is not eligible because she does not teach in the state and, at 45, does not meet the age requirement.
And so, she waited.
On Friday, Ms. Allen finally got her first shot after a health center in Maine decided to vaccinate teachers no matter where they lived.
“Even though the states haven’t officially changed their tune,” she said, “it was heartening to see that the local community was stepping in to make sure the right thing happened.”
About half of the states have residency requirements for vaccinations, though most allow out-of-state workers to receive a shot if they meet other eligibility conditions, said Jennifer Kates, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit focused on national health issues.
Connecticut, for example, allows workers who live in other states to receive the vaccine if they can prove that they work in an approved industry.
States including Florida and New Hampshire limited the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines to residents in hopes of stemming complaints of “vaccine tourism,” where a person could drive across a state line for a shot that they would not be eligible for back home.
Although most states allow nonresident workers to be inoculated, Ms. Kates said people living in one state and working in another might run into snags as they navigate the scheduling process.
“When you have such a patchwork of requirements,” Ms. Kates said, “it’s like a puzzle, and people who really want to get vaccinated are trying to figure how they can get that last piece of the puzzle.”
Yale plans to hold a version of in-person graduation for the class of 2021 in May — with no guests allowed. Harvard is not even calling its commencement a “commencement.” It plans to hold virtual degree-granting ceremonies and, for the second year in a row, will postpone traditional festivities.
The universities of South Florida, Southern California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt, Rochester and Kentucky, among others, are holding in-person commencements, but with differing rules about guests.
So it goes in this second graduation season of the pandemic. Day by day, another university announces commencement plans, and given the uncertainty created by the coronavirus, the decisions are breaking in opposite ways.
Prairie View A&M in Texas plans to hold live commencements, even as, somewhat surreally, the president of the college, Ruth Simmons, will be delivering the principal address at Harvard’s virtual commencement.
In the United States, reported coronavirus cases and deaths have fallen significantly after a post-holiday surge, according to a New York Times database. Vaccinations have also picked up, averaging about 2.5 million shots a day, as eligibility expands in several states.
Experts warn, however, that dangerous variants could lead to a spike in cases and states that lift restrictions could be acting prematurely.
Many universities are stipulating that in order to participate in graduation, students must have tested negative for the coronavirus before the ceremony and have a good record of adhering to campus policies created to guard against infection.
Peter Salovey, the president of Yale, said in a statement this month that the university would be recognizing graduation by holding in-person gatherings “on or around May 24, if public health conditions permit.” Students studying both on campus and remotely are invited, but not their guests. Mr. Salovey said Yale was excluding families because it seemed unlikely that everybody would be vaccinated by graduation day.
Harvard was one of the first universities to evacuate its campus in mid-March last year, and it is still in caution mode. In an email to students on Feb. 26, its president, Lawrence Bacow, said that postponing live commencement for two years running was “deeply disappointing, but public health and safety must continue to take precedence.”
Like other universities, though, Harvard promised to bring the classes of 2020 and 2021 back to celebrate at some future date.
Some universities plan to hold their commencements in outdoor stadiums. Notre Dame, which was aggressive about bringing students back to campus last fall, is planning to accommodate all 3,000 graduates and a limited number of guests in its 79,000-seat stadium. Health officials have authorized the use of up to 20 percent of the seating.
The University of Southern California will hold in-person ceremonies for the classes of 2021 and 2020 in May. The ceremonies will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and graduates will be allowed to invite two guests, although they must be California residents.
Northeastern University in Boston will host five commencement ceremonies in Fenway Park in May. Officials are aiming to allow each graduate to invite one guest, though they are still evaluating total capacity with physical distancing.
The University of South Florida in Tampa said this month that its commencement would take place at nearby Tropicana Field, which can hold about 40,000 people. The university set a tentative date of May 7 to 9. Students will be allowed to bring two guests and must register in advance.
Some schools are holding ceremonies without guests, in what will be largely empty stadiums.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison will hold in-person ceremonies in its Camp Randall Stadium, which can hold about 80,000 people. The university will hold two ceremonies on May 8, but graduates cannot bring guests.
Princeton plans to hold an outdoor commencement at its stadium for students who have taken part in the testing program and who live on or near campus. It is also considering extending the invitation to students learning virtually.
Princeton is still deciding whether to allow guests at its in-person ceremony, and summed up the uncertainty this way: “Families are encouraged not to make nonrefundable travel arrangements.”
Some universities are moving forward with entirely virtual commencements. Columbia is planning a virtual ceremony, but has held out some hope of smaller outdoor events. New York University and Stanford University have also announced plans to hold virtual celebrations.
It started as a stopgap measure to respond to the pandemic, a temporary two-year loosening of an Association of Art Museum Directors’ policy that has long prohibited American institutions from selling art in their collections to help pay the bills.
But more and more museums are taking advantage of the policy and the association began discussing making it permanent, an idea that, depending on which institution you talk to, either makes perfect sense or undermines the very rationale of their existence.
The debate has grown heated in recent weeks, pitting museum against museum, and forcing the association — which serves as the industry’s referee and moral watchdog — to postpone talks about a decision.
The longstanding policy — enforced by the association and widely embraced by its members — has been that the art owned by institutions was held for the public benefit and, as such, should be mostly retained.
Items could be sold only if they were duplicative or no longer in line with the museum’s mission, and the proceeds were to spent on other art, not used for staff salaries or other operating costs.
But in the financial upheaval of the pandemic, the association temporarily loosened the restrictions last year, allowing museums to sell artwork to help pay for the care of their collections.
The issue came to a head last month when the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acknowledged that it might take advantage of this policy shift, including a direction of the proceeds toward the salaries of those involved in collection care.
Museums typically look to the Met — the country’s largest — for guidance and many are troubled by the idea that it would use art sale proceeds to underwrite operating expenses.
Kent Taylor, the founder and chief executive of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain, died by suicide on Thursday after suffering from post-Covid-19 symptoms, the company and his family said in a statement. He was 65.
“After a battle with post-Covid-related symptoms, including severe tinnitus, Kent Taylor took his own life this week,” the statement said.
His body was found in a field on his property near Louisville, Ky., the Kentucky State Police told The Louisville Courier Journal. The State Police and the Oldham County coroner did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.
Mr. Taylor, who was also the chairman of the company’s board of directors, founded Texas Roadhouse in 1993. He sought to create an “affordable, Texas-style” restaurant but was turned down more than 80 times as he tried to find investors, according to a biography provided by the company.
Eventually, he raised $300,000 from three doctors from Elizabethtown, Ky., and sketched out the design for the first Texas Roadhouse on a cocktail napkin for the investors.
The first Texas Roadhouse opened in Clarksville, Ind., in 1993. Three of the chain’s first five restaurants failed, but it went on to open 611 locations in 49 states, and 28 international locations in 10 countries.
Until his death, Mr. Taylor had been active in Texas Roadhouse’s operations, the company said. He oversaw decisions about the menu, selected the murals for the restaurants and picked songs for the jukeboxes.
Greg Moore, the lead director of the company’s board, said in a statement that Mr. Taylor gave up his compensation package during the coronavirus pandemic to support frontline workers in the company.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.
In the year since the pandemic began, people learned to be together while apart and navigated the pain of feeling apart while together. Screens — small and large — became crucial links to the rest of the world.
Activities and routines that commanded crowds — visiting museums, attending concerts, working out, learning, traveling, partying — ceased or found a new life online. Holidays usually celebrated by family gatherings became fraught with consequences.
Memories of a prepandemic world, where people could stand shoulder to shoulder with faces bare, began to feel like dreams — as did moments of unexpected connection.
Couples in quarantine learned a lot about their significant others. In some instances, these revelations were not happy ones: Lawyers and mediators saw an increase in clients looking to divorce as soon as courts reopened.
In other cases, being confined together made couples stronger. Engagements and pregnancy announcements seemed to pop up constantly on social media. And there were plenty of weddings.
For many of those who were single, dating felt impossible in the early months of the pandemic. Sex toy sales increased. Eventually, emotional and physical needs began to weigh heavy, and people across the country found ways to meet and hook up within the confines of their comfort.
In search of safety, stability and support, adult children moved in with parents and parental figures, sometimes without a fixed departure date. In doing so, they rediscovered one another, and experienced the joys of bonding and the suffocation of constant proximity.
Though some Americans were able to hole up at home, their kitchen tables and couches converted into makeshift offices, others continued to work in public spaces. Delivery drivers dealt with health risks, theft and assault. Airline workers who weren’t furloughed had to confront passengers who refused to wear masks.
But things have opened up, slowly, over the past few months, as cases have fallen and people have become inoculated. Last week, President Biden promised that there would be enough vaccine doses for every American adult by May, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated people can begin gathering indoors again — a sign that people will soon be finding their way back to one another.
In the hustle to score an elusive vaccine appointment, the leftover dose has become the stuff of pandemic lore.
Extra shots — which must be used within hours once taken out of cold storage — have been doled out to drugstore customers buying midnight snacks, people who are friends with nurses and those who show up at closing time at certain grocery stores and pharmacies. At some larger vaccination sites, the race to use every dose sets off a flurry of end-of-the-day phone calls.
In every case, if the leftover dose does not find an available arm, it must go into the trash.
Now, a New York-based start-up is aiming to add some order to the hunt for leftover doses. Dr. B, as the company is known, is matching vaccine providers who find themselves with extra vaccines to people who are willing to get one at a moment’s notice.
Since the service began last month, more than 500,000 people have submitted a host of personal information to sign up for the service, which is free to join and is also free to providers. Two vaccine sites have begun testing the program, and the company said about 200 other providers had applied to participate.
Dr. B is just one attempt at coordinating the chaotic patchwork of public and private websites that allow eligible people to find vaccine appointments. And while it does not solve the broader structural issues around vaccine distribution, if it scales up the way some hope that it will, it could serve as a model for a better, more equitable way of scheduling vaccinations.
“Ultimately, patients need this vaccine, and there’s providers who need help getting it to the people of priority,” Cyrus Massoumi, a tech entrepreneur and founder of Dr. B, said in an interview. “That’s my motivation.”
Mr. Massoumi said he was financing the project out of his own pocket and had no plans to collect revenue. The company is named after his grandfather, who was nicknamed Dr. Bubba and became a doctor during the 1918 influenza pandemic.
The service suffers, however, from some of the same barriers that have marred vaccination efforts so far. Although signing up is simple, doing so requires an internet connection as well as ready access to a cellphone. Because of the last-minute nature of leftover doses, participants must have flexible schedules and access to transportation.
“It’s still heavily internet dependent, so it will depend on who hears about it,” said Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. “It seems he’s trying to solve a problem and do some good, but I’m sad that governments — counties, cities, national organizations — didn’t prepare for this and then didn’t react more quickly to give advice and guidance.”
Older people represent the vast majority of Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and they are emerging this spring with the daffodils, tilting their faces to the sunlight outdoors. They are filling restaurants, hugging grandchildren and booking flights.
Marcia Bosseler is back to playing Ping-Pong — and beating all the men, she says — at her apartment complex in Coral Gables, Fla.
Randy and Rochelle Forester went out to eat with another couple for the first time in a year, and Ms. Forester celebrated the pleasure of being “out of sweats, to put on some pretty earrings and lipstick and be back in the world a little bit.” Fully vaccinated, Louis Manus Jr., an 82-year-old Navy veteran in Rapid City, S.D., is getting ready for his first vintage car club meeting in a year.
The upside-down world in which older Americans are drinking more martinis inside restaurants at a far greater rate than millennials will be short-lived. In a few months, all that will most likely be over, and vaccines will be available to all who want them.
For now, about two-thirds of Americans over 65 have started the vaccination process and nearly 38 percent are fully vaccinated, compared with 12 percent of the overall population, giving the rest of the nation a glimpse into the after times.
“I am just enjoying my life,” said Robbie Bell, 75, who recently went out for a birthday celebration in Miami with two friends — one of whom was hospitalized last year with a dangerous case of Covid — and even hit the dance floor.
Many of those fully vaccinated — older and younger — are as cautious as ever, more like those crocuses that bloom in the day only to fold quietly back into their stems at night. Many said that their vigilance stemmed from the spread of some more contagious variants of the virus and from uncertainty over whether those who are vaccinated could still spread it.
“I would say that we are less afraid, but not fear-free,” said John Barkin, 76, who lives with his wife, Chris, 70, in Chestertown, Md. “There are so many stories about mutations, etc., and so many yet-to-be-vaccinated people seem to be acting more and more irresponsibly. Both of us feel that we have invested a year of being careful, so to continue on conservatively seems the way to go.”
Positive trends in pandemic statistics in the United States are easy to distrust. After all, the country went through two false dawns last year, in the late spring and then again in the late summer, when declines in case reports prefaced even darker days. Each time, the apparent good news prompted relaxations and reopenings that helped bring on the next wave.
So it is no surprise that public health experts are wary about the latest flattening in the curve of the pandemic, from the steep decline in cases seen in late January and February to something like a plateau or slight decline more recently. With more contagious virus variants becoming prevalent, they fear the good news could be ending and a fourth wave might be building.
On Monday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, again warned Americans about the spread of the coronavirus, saying that with increased travel, looser pandemic restrictions and worrisome variants bearing down on the United States, another surge could erupt if Americans did not take protection efforts seriously “for just a little bit longer.”
“We are at a critical point in this pandemic, a fork in the road, where we as a country must decide which path we are going to take. We must act now,” said Dr. Walensky, who has been one of many federal officials in recent weeks to warn governors against lifting mask mandates too soon. “And I am worried that if we don’t take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge, just as we are seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccination.”
That said, there are positive signs:
Daily death reports, which stayed stubbornly high long after the post-holidays surge, have finally come down sharply, to levels not seen since mid-November. As of Monday, the nation had averaged 1,051 newly reported virus deaths a day over the past week; the average had hovered around 3,000 for weeks over the winter.
Some recent hot spots have made major progress — notably Los Angeles, whose mayor, Eric Garcetti, said on CBS on Sunday that he had “not felt this optimism in 12 months.” The city and surrounding county, where cases in some areas leapt 450 percent over the holidays and hospitals became so swamped that some turned away ambulances, now has a test positivity rate of about 1.9 percent, and in an important shift, new case reports have fallen among people experiencing homelessness.
Vaccinations are becoming more accessible by the week, as states receive more doses and open up eligibility, in some cases to include all adult residents. The number of doses administered nationwide each day is rising, and the country surpassed President Biden’s initial goal to have administered 100 million shots on March 19, almost six weeks ahead of schedule.
The question now is which will prevail: the positive effects of trends like these or the negative effects of looser behavior and the evolution of the virus into more dangerous forms?
It’s still “a race between vaccinations and variants,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said on Twitter. Like other experts, he cautioned: “Opening up too fast helps the variants.”
Noah Weiland contributed reporting.