Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 20 May, 2021

Have you yet worked out what the new CDC guidelines for mask wearing actually mean for you in your local area?  You remember – just a couple of days after the CDC director said it was too dangerous to send her children to summer camps this year, we were then advised that all vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks indoors or outdoors (except for on public transport), without a word of explanation for the sudden about-face by the CDC, or why the “no mask indoors” policy has an exception for public transport, especially on planes that we’ve been told so many times by the airlines couldn’t be safer due to their air flows and air filtering..

The difficulty we have, and made worse if we travel away from home, is that many state, county and city public health authorities have been reluctant to accept the new CDC guidelines.  For example, in my county (King Co, WA) we were told the county was “immediately adopting the CDC guidelines”, but “with some flexibility” – whatever that means, and the King Co public health department urged us to keep wearing masks indoors, even though no longer mandatory.

What does that all mean?  “Flexibility”?  “You don’t have to wear a mask, but we recommend you do anyway?”

A couple of days later, we were told what “flexibility” and “recommending” means.  Indoor mask wearing is compulsory again in King Co, WA.

How can people keep up with the changes, let alone understand the reason for them?  How can public health authorities expect us to believe a word they say when within a week they go from “wearing masks is mandatory” to “wearing is no longer required” to “a flexible approach” to “we urge you to still wear a mask” to “wearing masks is mandatory” again?

No wonder levels of compliance and trust are lower than they should be, and matched by caution and unwillingness to vaccinate, too.

It isn’t just the US that is making a dog’s breakfast of their public messaging and public health policies.  The UK, while having much lower case rates per million people, has also suffered from government indecision and ambivalence.  This article does a great job of identifying some of their missteps, and within them are lessons for us all so we can do better, next time.  Or, for that matter, this pandemic is still far from over – maybe we should strive to do better now, too.

The week’s most disappointing (but not surprising) news – at least for some travelers from India – is that the cow dung they smuggled in to the US actually doesn’t help prevent or cure Covid.  As I said – not very surprising, for most of us….

Current Numbers

Amusingly, the state with the highest rate of new cases over the last week (out of the four being tracked) is the state with the lowest number of cases in total, HI.  UT displaced TN in the bottom of the list.

There were no changes in the minor country list.  Belgium and France swapped places in the major country list, as did Brazil and Argentina.

Brazil and Italy swapped places in the death rate list.  The UK’s death rate was so low for the week that the count per million stayed the same as it was a week ago.

In the volatile “worst countries for the last week” list there were the usual series of changes, although Bahrain and Uruguay continue to stubbornly lead the pack, and with rates appreciably higher than last week.

India has dropped back down to 25th place, with a new case rate of 1,426/million and a 23% drop from last week’s number.

US Best and Worst States

A week agoNowA week agoNow
1 BestHI (23,625)HI (25,189)HI (345)HI (347)
5WA (55,381)WA (56,248)OR (610)OR (618)
47TN (125,407)UT (125,917)MS (2,435)MS (2,445)
51 WorstND (142,872)ND (143,610)NJ (2,917)NJ (2,933)


Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

RankOne Week AgoToday
1Andorra (174,094)Andorra (175,369)
3San MarinoSan Marino
4Gibraltar (127,249)Gibraltar (127,249)
9St BarthSt Barth
10Lithuania (94,548)Lithuania (99,936)


Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

RankOne Week AgoToday
1Czech Republic (153,824)Czech Republic (154,402)
2Sweden (101,238)Sweden (103,908)
3USA (101,076)USA (101,687)
4Netherlands (92,253)Netherlands (94,097)
10Brazil   (72,180)Argentina  (75,656)
11Argentina (71,171)Brazil (74,329)
12Jordan (70,235)Jordan (70,784)


Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

RankOne Week AgoToday
1Czech Rep (2,781)Czech Rep (2,794)
6Poland (1,878)Poland
7UK (1,872)UK (1,872)
8USA  (1,799)USA  (1,811)
9Spain (1,695)Spain (1,702)
10Mexico (1,690)Mexico (1,699)


Top Rates in New Cases Reported in the Last Week (new cases per million)

RankOne Week AgoToday
1Bahrain  6,511Bahrain  7,522
2Uruguay  5,296Uruguay  6,325
3Costa RicaArgentina
4ArgentinaCosta Rica
5LithuaniaTrinidad & Tobago
9ParaguayBrazil  2,159
10Georgia  2,190Colombia
12Brazil  2,000Nepal  1,941


The rest of this newsletter is for the very kind Travel Insider Supporters – it is their support that makes all of this possible, and it seems fair they get additional material in return.  If you’re not yet a Supporter, please consider becoming one, and get instant access to the rest of the Diary Entries – today and in the past, and much extra content on other parts of the website too.

If you’re a contributor, you should make sure you’re logged in to the website, and when you are, you’ll see the purple text and balance of the newsletter below on the website.  If you’re not logged in, or reading this via email, you need to log in on the website first.

Items below include a new anti-viral drug being developed, but “old” anti-viral drugs remain neglected, interesting trends in which countries are currently vaccinating at the highest rates, wonderful stats for the continuing drops in new US cases, the EU says it is definitely going to allow vaccinated vacationers in, but still can’t provide specific details of how and when, and similar vagueness surrounds what form (if any) the Olympics will take in July/August.




Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Sunday.

Please click here for a listing of all our Covid-19 articles.


1 thought on “Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 20 May, 2021”

  1. Have been in Honolulu the past week. Talk about confusing rules. For regular folks, it’s masks everywhere, even outdoors, alone (or get ticketed). A friend went to a kids soccer game – parents were 6feet apart and masked.

    But go to Waikiki and I’d estimate half the people on the streets, on the beaches and even some walking through stores and lobbies, totally unmasked. No enforcement. Really bizarre. And the Governor continues the mask mandate. And Hawaii refuses to accept vaccinations performed out of state.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top

Free Weekly Emailed Newsletter

Usually weekly, since 2001, we publish a roundup of travel and travel related technology developments, and often a feature article too.

You’ll stay up to date with the latest and greatest (and cautioned about the worst) developments.  You’ll get information to help you choose and become a better informed traveler and consumer, how to best use new technologies, and at times, will learn of things that might entertain, amuse, annoy or even outrage you.

We’re very politically incorrect and love to point out the unrebutted hypocrisies and unfairnesses out there.

This is all entirely free (but you’re welcome to voluntarily contribute!), and should you wish to, easy to cancel.

We’re not about to spam you any which way and as you can see, we don’t ask for any information except your email address and how often you want to receive our newsletters.

Newsletter Signup - Welcome!

Thanks for choosing to receive our newsletters.  We hope you’ll enjoy them and become a long-term reader, and maybe on occasion, add comments and thoughts of your own to the newsletters and articles we publish.

We’ll send you a confirmation email some time in the next few days to confirm your email address, and when you reply to that, you’ll then be on the list.

All the very best for now, and welcome to the growing “Travel Insider family”.