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U.S. tourists aren't welcome in most countries around the world because of the high number of coronavirus cases surging in the United States. But at least one country is keeping its borders open: Mexico. And many Americans, keen to escape the cold or lockdowns, are flocking to its stunning beaches.

On a recent weekend in Cabo San Lucas, one of Mexico's top tourist destinations, Sharlea Watkins and her friends downed beers at a restaurant overlooking the city's marina.

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Santa Claus takes many forms throughout the holiday season: there's the work party Santa, the parade float Santa and the illustrious mall Santa. In Baltimore, there's the Santa on a cargo bike carrying several hundred pounds worth of Christmas trees, trailed by the scent of slow-cooked pork.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... hand sanitizer, a spray can of Lysol, a big box of TP and a cleaning gizmo for keys and phones.

All year, cleaning products have been flying off the shelves — now, they're flying straight into Christmas stockings and wrapping paper. Holiday-season sales of sanitizing wipes and sprays have doubled this year, according to Nielsen. Sales of hand sanitizer have more than quadrupled.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

With the clock ticking down, the United Kingdom and the European Union finally agreed to a free trade deal a week before the Brexit transition period ends and 4 1/2 years since Britons voted in a landmark referendum to leave the EU.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the agreement as a way for the country's businesses to continue to have tariff-free and quota-free access to the massive EU market while delivering on the promise of the 2016 Brexit campaign.

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For months, the warning was clear from economists, housing advocates and public health experts: Without more help from Congress, millions of Americans could be evicted, in the dead of winter, in the middle of a raging pandemic.

"I can't construct a darker scenario," Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi told NPR in November. "It's absolutely critical that lawmakers step up."

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President Trump issued even more pardons last night to his friends, his loyalists and his daughter's in-law.

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Late last week, The New York Times issued one of its biggest mea culpas in years. The nation's leading newspaper returned a Peabody award and a citation as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize after retracting the core of its hit podcast series Caliphate.

In seeking to restore faith in its journalism, however, The Times may have demonstrated the persistence of some of the problems at the heart of this scandal. The paper's top editor participated in a podcast to help correct the record and to say, as he put it, "we got it wrong."

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's district sweeps from the beaches of Santa Monica to the San Fernando Valley. Among the two million people she represents are Latino communities hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Many essential workers, many market and pharmacy and food service and restaurant and hotel workers and a lot of health care workers," she said. "So a lot of people just had to go to work."

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Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

The Trump administration says it has reached a deal with Pfizer to buy an additional 100 million doses of the company's COVID-19 vaccine, effectively doubling the federal government's supply from Pfizer.

The pharmaceutical giant is to deliver 70 million doses by June 30, 2021, and complete the rest of the order by the end of the following month, according to a statement released Wednesday morning by the Department of Health and Human Services.

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The wheels on the nation's buses aren't going round and round very much these days.

Demand for bus travel has fallen by more than 80% during the pandemic as public health authorities urge people to avoid travel where possible.

That is raising concerns about the potential long-term damage to an essential transport method for millions of lower-income Americans even as air travel has shown signs of picking up since the Thanksgiving holiday period.

And those who have to take the bus, for whatever reason, are finding fewer options, and often higher prices as a result.

The massive spending package just passed by Congress includes the most significant climate legislation in more than a decade, along with significant changes in energy policy.

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Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Walmart on Tuesday, alleging that the retail giant unlawfully dispensed controlled substances from pharmacies it operated nationwide.

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It took months, but late last night, Congress passed a spending package to help people and businesses struggling through the pandemic. It includes $900 billion in aid. And here's how Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey described it.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

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Federal assistance was about to run out for millions of Americans, but now Congress has approved new aid.

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The whine of chainsaws and rumble of wood chippers are echoing around the shores of Pearl Harbor.

Work crews are clearing an invasive species of mangrove from the shoreline and coastal streams that empty into Hawaii's most famous body of water.

"Pearl Harbor is being choked out by red mangrove," says Amanda Millin, a field crew manager overseeing a team of five.

Millin notes that in most tropical ecosystems, mangroves provide a variety of environmental benefits, including sequestering carbon, controlling erosion control and fostering biodiversity.

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By the end of last year, the door to a dream had begun to crack open for Lilli Rayne.

She'd spent about five years building her dog-walking and pet-sitting business into a profitable venture in Asheville, N.C.

"My whole life had been entirely where I wanted it to be at that point," she recalls.

As she built her business, Rayne also left behind her history of less-than-stellar credit.

"For the first time in my life, I had a credit score that I could have finally bought a home with," she says, a dream she'd had her entire adult life.

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