The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t want Americans to travel over Thanksgiving, but that didn’t necessarily stop them.
The Transportation Security Administration set a new pandemic record Sunday for the number of travelers who passed through U.S. airport checkpoints.
The agency saw nearly 1.2 million travelers through TSA checkpoints that day. More than a million travelers went through the checkpoints Friday, Sunday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, as well. Since the coronavirus pandemic began more than eight months ago, the TSA has only hit that milestone one other time, on Oct. 18.
Or course, the number of air travelers was still far below last year’s levels as the pandemic has caused a severe drop-off in travel as COVID-19 cases and travel restrictions mount.
Last year, the TSA reported 2.8 million travelers passed through TSA security checkpoints nationwide on Dec. 1, the Sunday following the holiday. It marked the busiest day of the 2019 Thanksgiving season and set a record for the busiest day in the TSA’s 18-year history.
This year, during a news briefing a week before Thanksgiving, Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said the agency was “recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period.”
And some families did reconsider holiday travel.
Josh Holman and his family scrapped plans to fly to Lake Tahoe and spend Thanksgiving with his brother, who lives in San Francisco, and his parents, who live in North Dakota.
“I see it as my civic duty not to spread this virus further,” said Holman, an assistant county prosecutor who lives outside Detroit.
Alejandro Zuniga and his fiancee, Megan Muhs, who live in Costa Rica, thought briefly about flying to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving to see Muhs’ family but decided against it. They also nixed a trip to the U.S. in December.
“No part of a major international trip seems safe at this point,” Zuniga said.
Contributing: Sara M Moniusko, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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