Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

Reopening in photos.

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Credit…The New York Times

With vaccination rates rising and virus cases declining, there is a hopefulness to this summer that feels exciting and unique. Millions of Americans, after 15 months of heartbreak and sacrifice, are returning to prepandemic activities for the first time.

We didn’t want to let this hard-earned moment pass us by, so we asked readers to send us photos of the first moments they felt that something had changed, and that life was returning to something resembling normal.

For Zak Baumann, of Los Angeles, (below, far left) that moment came when he attended the University of Southern California’s in-person commencement ceremony.

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Credit…Dillon Matthew

“After not stepping in a classroom for 15 months and completing the last semesters of my undergraduate career online, it was such a relief to go receive my diploma in person with my mom watching in the audience,” he wrote. “It’s finally looking like the days of endless Zoom calls are behind us!”

Once again, groups of strangers are meeting, and bonding — as they did recently on a three-night rafting trip down the Rouge River near Galice, Ore. Evenings were filled with home-cooked meals, and banjo and guitar jam sessions, wrote Pat Scheans (below, far right, flashing a peace sign). “It was fabulous and so very refreshing to not think about Covid; it was washed from my mind.”

In photo after photo that readers sent in, we noticed one unmistakable element: huge smiles, like the pure joy on the face of 4-month-old Oliver Seavey after seeing his recently vaccinated grandmother, Meg Spicher, for the first time.

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Credit…Monica Seavey

Or the grin of Wilburn C. Rowden, a 98-year-old World War II veteran, who finally returned to church services (and his social life) in Jefferson City, Mo., for the first time in 17 months.

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Credit…Paula Medlin

Or the proud smile of Usha Stiefel, the chief of infectious diseases at a major urban hospital, whose son Mitchell graduated high school after an almost entirely virtual senior year. Both had years that were made up of “unalleviated, nail-biting strain,” she wrote.

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Credit…Mitchell Stiefel

Across the country, the vaccines have opened the door to family reunions, travel, group socializing, indoor dining and live music.

“I played my first live show in over a year,” wrote Lauren Gale from Denver (below, far left). “There were no masks in sight. It felt amazing and safe, only because I am vaccinated. May as well see if it works, eh?”

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Credit…Caleb Stewart

Among the photos and stories that readers sent in were reminders of how far the country has come.

Last October, we published a comment from Jessica Van Antwerp, of Boulder, Colo., who met a man before lockdown, and started dating with “socially distant walks, wearing masks,” she wrote. “We eventually started holding hands wearing gloves, and we fell in love before we even kissed.”

In May, just as the C.D.C. released new mask guidance, Jessica and that man, Philippe Antoine, got married — in a maskless wedding.

“It was glorious!” she wrote. “How I had missed seeing people’s smiles!”


Photographers for The Times have also documented Americans re-emerging from the pandemic in all 50 states in recent weeks. Here’s a glimpse of what their cameras captured.

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Credit…Maggie Shannon for The New York Times

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Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

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Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

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Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times

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Credit…Emily Elconin for The New York Times

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Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

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Credit…Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

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Credit…Bridget Bennett for The New York Times
  • The C.D.C. is investigating nearly 800 cases of rare heart problems following immunization.

  • In New York City, unfounded fears over fertility are leading some Orthodox Jewish women to shun the vaccine.

  • Turkey expanded its vaccination program to restaurant workers, hairdressers, taxi drivers, bus drivers and other groups, The Washington Post reports.

See how the vaccine rollout is going in your county and state.



My friends and I are holding a “wild women weedend” this weekend. You will be hearing us howling with happiness at being freed from our masks. And, we are all in our 80s.

— Cath Malara, Pomona, N.Y.

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Email your thoughts to briefing@nytimes.com.

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Jonathan Wolfe Jeremiah M. Bogert Jr. and Shelby Knowles