The U.S. federal government is directing states to make Covid vaccines available to all adults by May 1, President Biden said tonight in a nationally televised speech. In addition, the federal government will speed production and distribution of vaccines, supported by the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that the President signed today.
The idea is allow more Americans to celebrate the Fourth of July with their loved ones - a safe, new openness that could help revive an ailing theme park industry that continues to struggle to attract visitors while Covid infections and deaths continue from coast to coast.
One year ago today, the NBA suspended its season - the first in a cascade of actions that resulted in the almost complete shut down of the American economy. This weekend marks one year since the world’s theme parks closed their gates - including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and Disneyland, sending the industry into its current malaise.
California’s theme parks are set to reopen next month, with many top seasonal parks joining them in May. Florida’s theme parks have been running at reduced capacity since last summer, but a large percentage of American theme park fans - estimated between one fourth and a third - have said that they will not consider a park visit this year. The earlier that people can get vaccinated, the sooner that many of them will be willing to book vacations again.
Stimulus checks and a huge tax break for families can help make it possible for people to pay for their vacation dreams in the months to come, too.
President Biden said the nation will have enough shots for all U.S. adults by the end of May. He also said that the federal government will launch a central website to help Americans find and make appointments to get vaccinated.
But restoring America’s physical health is just one important step toward recovery. We have yet to see the full effect of this pandemic upon our collective mental health. For many, mental trauma appears only after a physical shock concludes. Each of us will confront that in our own way, but President Biden said, “it's a shared experience that binds us together as a nation. We are bound together by the loss and the pain in the days that have gone by. We're also bound together by the hope and the possibilities the days in front of us.”
For more than two decades, I have published Theme Park Insider not just to keep people informed about and engaged with theme park attractions, but to offer anyone who needs it a few moments of hope - a thought that there are always fun destinations waiting out there for you. Places that you can think about, dream about, and even plan to go visit.
When America collectively realized the threat of this pandemic one year ago this week, for the first time I could not offer that hope through these pages. For the first time, no major theme parks were open anywhere that you could go visit.
So I pivoted and tried to offer the hope of future visits. I started a social distancing kitchen video show where I made theme park recipes. I published virtual roadtrips with plenty of on-ride videos. And I tried to keep everyone informed about potential reopenings and what people would have to do to stay safe when parks did return.
But as the pandemic dragged on, many people began to lose their hope. Some of us lost loved ones and continue to feel that pain. The stress of the pandemic helped expose many other problems and divisions within society. Many fans decided to just check out and stop dreaming about a future vacation that just seemed too risky, too inappropriate or too far in an uncertain future.
For everyone who has stuck with me for the past 12 months, thank you. Your support means more to me than even a professional writer could aspire to express. For those checking in after a break, welcome back. I hope that you will keep reading as we look together for signs of new hope in a recovering world. And for those discovering this site for the first time, I promise you honest reporting and thoughtful commentary whenever you visit.
It’s been a helluva year. Here’s hoping that President Biden’s plan works, and we all can celebrate our independence from this pandemic this summer.
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