Pandemic Travel Records Are Being Broken Before Christmas

Pandemic Travel Records Are Already Being Broken Before Christmas Because ‘Merica

US-TRAVEL-AVIATION
DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty

The pre-Christmas travel season is already surpassing numbers from this year’s Thanksgiving weekend

We’re in the middle of a pandemic but you’d never know it judging by the Facebook feeds of COVID-denying family and friends, the crowds at stores, the families still letting their kids sit on unmasked Santa’s lap, and now, holiday season travel. As COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths hit new and very grim highs, some folks remain undeterred and insist on traveling by air even though it will most assuredly end in yet another uptick in cases.

According to The Washington Post, this past weekend’s pre-Christmas air travel surpassed 1 million daily passengers nationwide for three consecutive days. That stretch of people flying during an actual pandemic is now officially the record for most weekend travelers since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, breaking the previous record set over Thanksgiving. A total of 3.2 million passengers were screened over this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Of course, these people are traveling against the advice of health officials including the Centers for Disease Control who, contrary to whacko conspiracy theorists’ beliefs, only want to slow the pace of COVID infections and deaths as our health system begins to buckle under the pressure. Many hospitals are reaching capacity due to being overwhelmed by the virus, which means people seeking care for other ailments could face delays in care or be turned away altogether. But hey, some folks just have to see their second cousins and spread the plague en route. Eye rolls all day.

The weekends before and after Thanksgiving are the two pandemic record-breakers aside from this past weekend with travelers totaling 3,052,139 before the holiday and 2,961,120 after. No wonder our nation saw huge spikes in COVID numbers in several states in the weeks following.

While airports are doing all they can to keep things safe (TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein tweeted out photos showing TSA officers disinfecting bins) those precautions only go so far.

Look at these crowds. All the masks, soap, sanitizer, and prayers in the world won’t stop thousands of people from falling ill due to the actions of others. These photos make my entire body cringe.

DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images
DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

But to adjust to our new normal, the rules are changing for how much hand sanitizer travelers can bring in a carry-on bag, so at least there’s that. “Until further notice, passengers may bring one container of hand sanitizer up to 12oz in carry-on bags,” the TSA said. “Expect containers to be screened separately, which may add time to the checkpoint screening experience.”

Although over 3 million people flying during a global pandemic is still 3 million people too many, the numbers traveling by plane are consistently less than half of the numbers seen at the same time last year. So that’s cool I guess.

“Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” the CDC said earlier this month. The agency provides a lengthy list of recommendations for those who cannot avoid traveling amid the current state of things including getting a flu shot beforehand, wearing a mask, and washing hands frequently. But let’s remember that when it comes to safety — nothing beats staying the hell home.