Vaccinated travelers from abroad were allowed to enter the United States this week, drawing an agonizing 18-month wait to a conclusion and producing joyous reunions for thousands of people.
The country’s opening of the borders on Monday is expected to drastically increase the influx of tourist money and provide a degree of relief to a travel industry that has lost billions of dollars in the pandemic. On Monday alone, over 200,000 international fliers arrived in the United States, according to Customs and Border Protection.
Every customs booth in San Ysidro, Calif., was busy as visitors from Mexico crossed the border to reunite with relatives or seek medical care. But to the north, there were concerns that the Canadian government’s entry requirement of a P.C.R. test — more expensive and time-consuming than the rapid antigen test — might deter some Canadian trips to the United States.
At the same time, controversy over U.S. mandates for Covid prevention measures continued. A federal appellate court upheld a block on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for large employers; the government is expected to appeal. And 10 states sued the federal government on Wednesday over its vaccine mandate for health care workers.
Mask mandates had a mixed week in the courts. A federal judge ruled that Texas’ ban on mask mandates in schools violated the rights of students with disabilities, while in Pennsylvania, a judge struck down a state mask mandate for grades K-12; it remained in effect pending appeal.
Pfizer asked the F.D.A. on Tuesday to authorize booster doses of its vaccine for all those 18 and over — an expansion of the current authorization for those over 65 and younger people at high risk. The agency is expected to grant the request, perhaps in time for the holidays. Two states took that step this week ahead of federal approval: Colorado and California.
Meanwhile, the director general of the World Health Organization said that six times more booster doses were being given around the world each day than primary doses in low-income countries, a situation he called “a scandal that must stop now.” Countries including Germany, Israel, Canada and the United States have rolled out booster programs despite the W.H.O.’s objections.
Here’s what else happened this week:
The White House estimated that almost a million children ages 5 to 11 had been vaccinated since the authorization last week of the Pfizer vaccine for that age group.
The New York Times examined the existing data about the effectiveness over time of the vaccines authorized for use in the United States. The conclusion: Their potency against infection does decrease, to varying degrees, but prevention of hospitalization and death remains strong.
Schools in much of the world have reopened, but in Uganda, they mostly remain closed. Ten million primary and secondary students there are still at home, and the long-term outlook is grim. Nearly a third of the country’s students may never return to school, according to the government’s estimate.
Cases have risen steeply in Europe, accounting for over half of the 48,000 global coronavirus deaths reported in the first week of this month, according to the W.H.O. The Netherlands instituted a partial lockdown, and Germany said it would resume free testing for all and was debating the imposition of tighter rules. In Romania, doctors were doing their best to fight misinformation and turn the tide against vaccine hesitancy.
A gradual eviction crisis is unfolding in communities around the United States, particularly in places where federal rental assistance has been slow and where tenant protections are scant. Evictions were up by nearly 14 percent in the first two weeks of October compared with the first two weeks of the previous month.