Nearly 1.2 million people passed through U.S. airports Sunday, the largest number since the pandemic gripped the country in March, despite pleas from health experts for Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving.
The Transportation Security Administration screened at least 1 million people on four of the last 10 days through Sunday. That's still half the crowd recorded last year at airports, when more than 2 million people were counted per day.
With new reported cases of coronavirus spiking across the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued a warning against Thanksgiving travel just a week before the holiday.
The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. has climbed to more than 160,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Public-health experts believe others who are infected don’t show signs of carrying the virus.
Previous holidays including Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day were followed by increases in new cases. David O’Connor, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin who has studied the role of travel in the pandemic, expects the same thing to happen after Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas.
“Travel is going to be contributing to a bigger surge. What we see in the next couple weeks will tell us a lot about what will happen after Christmas,” he said. “We’re in the midst of a catastrophe as it is. You don’t need a surge for it to become horrible. The health care systems are already stretched."
In other developments:
- Americans returning home from Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge because of holiday gatherings over the long weekend.
- The rush to develop a vaccine gained steam with the news from Moderna Inc. that it would ask U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its vaccine. Early results show the vaccine is more than 94 percent effective.
- COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defense policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump's final weeks in office.
- Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator and third in the line of presidential succession, is back in the Senate on Monday after testing positive for coronavirus two weeks ago.
- The coronavirus vaccine inching toward approval in the U.S. is desperately anticipated by weary Americans longing for a path back to normal life. But criminals are waiting, too, ready to use that desperation to their advantage, federal investigators say.
- The Baltimore Ravens' struggle to contain an extended outbreak of the coronavirus forced their rescheduled game Tuesday night against the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers to be moved back to Wednesday. The NFL's latest outbreak has now forced the game originally set for Thanksgiving to be rescheduled three times.
- The San Francisco 49ers will play two home games in Arizona after new coronavirus regulations put in place by officials in Northern California forced the team to find a temporary new home.