Thanksgiving eve: Millions of Americans travel for annual holiday despite Covid warnings

Dr Anthony Fauci said travel might act as a ‘surge superimposed on a surge’

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 25 November 2020 19:18
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Millions of Americans are taking flights, hitting the roads or using public transport over the Thanksgiving holiday, despite public health warnings against travel amid soaring coronavirus infections.

At one point on Tuesday, nearly 7,000 planes were tracked in airspace over North and Central America, according to data from FlightRadar24.

The figure was slightly down on the same period last year (7,630) but higher than the 6,815 recorded in 2018, the data shows.

Many chose to make the trip over the weekend.  Almost 1 million people have travelled by plane since the holiday travel season began on Friday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA recorded 912,090 people going through checkpoints on Tuesday. That is down from 2,435,170 on the same day last year, according to the TSA.

The American Automobile Association projected that 48 million people would travel by car and 350,000 by train, representing just a 10 per cent decline in from the same time in 2019.

It comes despite repeated warnings from doctors, nurses and health authorities that travel and Thanksgiving gatherings are likely to significantly contribute to the US's growing number of Covid-19 cases.

"There is so much community transmission all over the United States that the chances of you encountering somebody that has Covid-19 is actually very, very high, whether it’s on an airplane, at the airport or at a rest area," said Dr Syra Madad, an infectious disease epidemiologist for New York City hospitals.

Dr Anthony Fauci, one of America's top infectious diseases experts, said the travel might serve to act as a "surge superimposed on a surge".  

In total, the US has recorded 12.7 million coronavirus infections and 260,000 deaths, official figures show.

Health officials reported 176,439 new cases on 24 November, down slightly from 179,067 in the previous 24 hours.  

The US Centers for Disease Control earlier this month urged Americans not to travel during the holidays.

"Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19," the health body said in a statement. "Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year."

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