U.S. Travel Surges Despite Outbreaks

TAMPA, Fla. -
Motorists drop off travelers at Denver International Airport Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Millions of Americans are traveling for their winter vacations, despite pleas from public health experts that they stay home to avoid fueling the raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 nationwide.

More than 5 million people passed through the nation’s airport security checkpoints between Friday and Tuesday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

That is down around 60% from the same time last year. But it amounts to around a million passengers per day, or about what the U.S. saw in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, when some Americans likewise disregarded warnings and ended up contributing to the surge in the U.S.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams encouraged people to celebrate only with people in their households, but added that if they can’t follow the guidance, they should take precautions, such as ensuring good home ventilation.

“We can’t let fatigue cause us to make poor decisions this holiday season that end up making us backtrack, especially when we are so incredibly close to getting ourselves and everyone else across the finish line,” he said, referring to the start of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Overall, the AAA projected that about 85 million people will travel between Wednesday and Jan. 3, most of them by car. That would be a drop of nearly a one-third from a year ago but still a big number in the middle of a pandemic.

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Reporting by the Associated Press.