Sunday showed the highest number of people TSA screened in a single day – 1,327,289 people – since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as travellers made a return from their holiday plans.
More than 1 million passengers were recorded passing through TSA in a single day for 11 days over the holiday season. The first day the US hit the milestone of more than 1 million travellers happened on 19 December.
Although these numbers were far lower than the previous holiday season, they came at a time when the CDC recommended for people to cancel travel in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Travel dropped to lower than 100,000 people passing through airports in a single day back in April at the peak of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. But now coronavirus fatigue has set in among Americans at a time when cases, hospitalisations, and deaths are surging across the country.
The US topped 100,000 hospitalisations for the first time since the start of the pandemic on 2 December, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The daily number has steadily increased in the last month to a record 125,544 hospitalised with Covid-19 on 3 January.
Daily death tolls from the novel virus have also steadily increased, and 2,611 people died from Covid-19 on 3 January. The highest number of deaths in a single day happened on 23 December with 3,379 people dying from Covid-19.
Hospitalisations and deaths are a lagging indicator in the pandemic. Normally cases surge first and hospitalisations and deaths follow one to two weeks later. So the current surge likely came from Thanksgiving travel and the weeks following. The country won’t see the full impact of the recent holiday travel for a few weeks.
But the surge comes at a time when hospitals are experiencing an increase in patients and diminished ICU bed capacity, putting a strain on the healthcare system.
Nationwide 78 per cent of hospital beds are currently occupied, The New York Times reported. About one-fifth of US hospitals with ICUs reported that at least 95 per cent of their beds were filled, causing concern among health professionals.
A lack of ICU beds in California has influenced parts of the state to shut down businesses again in an effort to curb the spread. But the coming weeks could further exacerbate the healthcare system given the increased travel.
The country could see more than 560,000 deaths from Covid-19 by mid-April, the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected. More than 351,000 Americans have died from the novel virus, according to data obtained by Johns Hopkins University.
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