The Atlantic Daily: The Spring Remains a Pandemic Mystery

The spring remains a pandemic mystery. Then: Should parents set screen-time limits for kids while they’re at home?

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The spring remains a pandemic mystery. Then: Should parents set screen-time limits for kids while they’re at home?

America’s pandemic fortunes are finally changing. At long last, case numbers and hospitalizations are headed in a promising direction, boosting hopes that the country can exit this nightmarish national Groundhog Day. But still more uncertainty lies ahead.

January was the deadliest month yet.

According to data from the COVID Tracking Project, more than 95,000 Americans died of COVID-19 last month, making up one-fifth of recorded deaths to date.

Mutating viruses and vaccine progress will define February.

The variant in Brazil is exposing the world's vulnerability, James Hamblin warns. Meanwhile, some vaccine recipients are getting their second doses, giving their immune systems a rude (but normal) awakening, Katherine J. Wu reports.

What’ll happen this spring remains a mystery.

“The pandemic’s medium-term future remains the biggest outstanding question,” Robinson Meyer writes.

What to read if … you’d like to better understand the coup in Myanmar:

A Barack Obama foreign-policy victory is shaping up to be President Joe Biden’s first challenge. “There is also a sense of déjà vu, in both the U.S. and Myanmar,” Timothy McLaughlin writes.

What to read if … you’re interested in news that Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon CEO:

What’s the billionaire's endgame? Staff writer Franklin Foer spent five months trying to answer that question for his 2019 profile of Bezos.

What to read if … you’re processing the death of Sophie:

The Scottish producer, who died at age 34, created addictive sounds that seemed to live inside the listener’s head, our critic Spencer Kornhaber writes.

Screentime enforcement

One question, answered: Jenny from New York asks about setting screen-time rules for kids:

How do we create and enforce rules regarding screen time, when time spent on homework apps so easily leads to time spent on gaming apps, FaceTime with friends, etc.?

Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer respond in our “Homeroom” column:

[One] approach is to carve out quality family time free of all devices—for everyone. We’ve seen notable improvements in general mood for many families who have designated a tech “parking lot”—a particular shelf or bin where all devices go during screen-free time. Your kids may resist the ritual—you may, too—but some version of this is essential.

Keep reading. Every Tuesday, Abby and Brian take questions from readers about their kids’ education. Have one? Email them at

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved isolation activity:

In The Little Things (in theaters and streaming on HBO Max), Denzel Washington returns to the kind of role that helped make him a movie star.

Today’s break from the news:

Get in the mood for Valentine’s Day: Diamonds aren’t special. And neither is your love.