More people than ever during the pandemic are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, despite federal government recommendations against doing so.
The Transportation Security Administration recorded over 3 million people passing through airport security across the country during the three-day period of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Still, that’s fewer than half the travelers recorded during the same timeframe last year.
The weekend numbers peaked on Sunday at 1,047,934.
“It was the highest since the steep decline due to the pandemic and the second time in three days that checkpoint volume surpassed 1 million,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein tweeted.
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The previous record of airline travelers during the pandemic was the Sunday after Columbus Day weekend in October.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske last week said that he expects the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after to see the largest numbers of travelers.
In updated guidance, the agency recommended celebrating the holiday either virtually or with those in the household, which it defines as “anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit.”
“People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households,” the CDC said.
The guidance does not take issue with the act of flying itself, saying “most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.”
But a plane packed with passengers could be a different circumstance.
The agency said “social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.”
It also notes that air travel can involve close contact with other people through spending time in security lines and terminals.
The U.S. is headed toward documenting 200,000 coronavirus cases in a single day. Fatalities are also trending upward, with the country recording over 2,000 deaths in a single day last week for the first time since May.