The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recorded its highest number of weekend passengers since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, with over 3 million people traveling in the past three days. The surge comes despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance advising against Thanksgiving travel because of mounting covid-19 cases across the nation.
Sunday was the busiest travel day since the beginning of the pandemic in March, according to TSA spokesman Daniel Velez, with 1,047,934 passengers. TSA screenings surpassed a now-rare amount of 1 million screenings on both Friday and Sunday; Friday was a slightly lower travel day with 1,019,836 travelers screened. On Saturday, TSA saw 984,369 travelers.
The new peak comes as U.S. coronavirus cases have also hit a new high, and just in time for Thanksgiving week — which typically brings the busiest travel day of the year on Wednesday. In the past week, daily new coronavirus cases in the United States surged by nearly 14 percent, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a firm stance last week: “Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”
Before this past weekend, passenger levels at U.S. airports had surpassed 1 million passengers once in October.
“TSA has been diligent in our efforts to ensure checkpoints are clean, safe and healthy for frontline workers and airline passengers, implementing new protocols and deploying state-of-the-art technologies that improve security and reduce physical contact,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a news release at that time.
Now, with U.S. infection levels higher than they were in the early days of the pandemic, many states are implementing stay-at-home orders or tightening their entry restrictions ahead of the holiday travel season to require quarantines or coronavirus testing.