More are flying despite CDC pleas not to travel

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If you can’t visit family due to the COVID-19 pandemic, host a virtual Thanksgiving dinner instead.

USA TODAY

Americans are flocking to airports for travel ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the country and after the Centers for Disease Control pleaded with Americans not to travel.

More than 1 million air travelers passed through security checkpoints at U..S airports on Friday for only the second time since the pandemic began, according to the TSA. On Saturday, the travel numbers neared one million, bringing the two-day total to more than two million passengers.

The flock of Friday travelers came a day after the CDC issued its warning against holiday traveling. During a news briefing Thursday, Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said the agency recommended “against travel during the Thanksgiving period.”

“The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members is coming to this family gathering and they could end up severely ill, hospitalized or dying. And we don’t want that to happen,” he said, as the number of COVID-19 cases ticks up across the country. “These times are tough.”

Warning: CDC recommends that Americans don’t travel for Thanksgiving

Roger Dow, president and CEO of the industry group U.S. Travel Association, said he expects some people to heed the CDC’s recommendation, but noted that AAA projects that 50 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving.

On Friday, Johns Hopkins University reported a record 195,542 new U.S. COVID-19 cases confirmed.

The CDC has stated the concern is not just with the travel, but with the resulting large family gatherings around the holiday, which could spread the highly contagious virus.

As for specific Thanksgiving gathering safety tips, the CDC recommends:

  • Bringing your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils
  • Avoiding passing by areas where food is being prepared, such as the kitchen
  • Using single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets
  • Using disposable items like food containers, plates and utensils.

If you plan to host a gathering, the CDC recommends keeping it outdoors, limiting the number of people and having guests bring their own food and drink. If food is being shared, the agency suggests having only one person serve the food.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles International Airport took the unusual step of issuing advice with its annual holiday travel tips.

“If you do not have to travel for the holidays, don’t,’’ the airport said in a tweet. “For those who do, wear a mask, stay physically distanced and stay safe.”

Contributing: Sara M Moniuszko

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