The weekend before Thanksgiving saw over two million travelers in U.S. airports
The Transportation Security Administration (aka TSA) (via CNN) said travel was at its highest over the pre-Thanksgiving weekend, with a two-day total of two million people passing through airports as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.
The Centers for Disease Control issued recent guidelines about Halloween and Thanksgiving, both coming after the U.S. continues to report daily record-setting cases of the coronavirus. “Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19,” the CDC said on its website. The organization said that cancelling your plans is “the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”
Crowds at Sky Harbor: The day after the CDC recommended people cancel their Thanksgiving travel plans, #azfamily viewer Ed Westerfield caught this scene of passengers waiting at their gates pic.twitter.com/r9gIhWlbek
— Max Gorden (@Max_Gorden) November 21, 2020
Despite the warnings, it seems many are choosing to ignore this warning and are traveling to see family and friends anyway. Friday and Saturday (November 20th and 21st) marks the busiest days for U.S. airport traffic since mid-March. For people who continue to abide by mandates put in place in their states and for healthcare workers exhausted in hospitals trying to care for sick and dying patients, the crowds of people in airports is infuriating to see. A video from Friday showing Phoenix’s crowded Sky Harbor airport has gone viral online.
On Saturday, Johns Hopkins University reported a record 195,542 new U.S. COVID-19 cases. To date, over 256,000 people have died in the U.S. alone from the virus.
The latest CDC #COVIDView report shows that weekly #COVID19 hospitalization rates are rising in the United States. Weekly rates for adults 65 and older are approaching the peak weekly rates seen in April. Learn more: https://t.co/zP4VYlo0Pb. pic.twitter.com/Ux07pV6pR5
— CDC (@CDCgov) November 20, 2020
According to CNN, the airlines say cleaning procedures used between flights, fresh air in the cabin during flights, hospital-quality air filters now used on planes, and mask mandates during flights make air travel safe even during a pandemic. But if all these people are traveling to be with others on Thanksgiving, these gatherings will likely be the next super spreader event that puts every one of us in harm’s way.
Seeing photo after photo of crowded airports pic.twitter.com/uKR2HSZThs
— Maggie Smith (@maggiesmithpoet) November 21, 2020
“We are really asking people to be flexible in their plans for Thanksgiving. In the last week we’ve seen over a million new cases. Thanksgiving is a week away. And so if you are showing any signs and symptoms of COVID-19, we are strongly recommending that you do not travel, be flexible and make those decisions, moving forward in the next week,” Erin Sauber-Schatz, the head of CDC’s community intervention and critical population task force, told ABC News.
— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) November 20, 2020
“These times are tough. It’s been a long. It’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months now and people are tired. And we understand that and people want to see their, their relatives and their friends. And the way they’ve always done it. But this year, particularly we’re asking people to be as safe as possible, and limit their travel,” CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager Henry Walke added.
This is going to have a major impact on hospitals in the coming weeks. According to an NPR analysis of data released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week, more than 1,000 hospitals in the US have been identified as “critically” short on staff due to the pandemic’s toll on healthcare workers and being overrun by sick patients.
It’s difficult to imagine not seeing family for the holidays but the decisions some are making will continue to result in more death, more shutdowns, and more long-term negative effects as a country.
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.