More than 10 million passengers travelled through US airports over Christmas holiday, breaking pandemic record

More than 10 million passengers travelled through US airports in the days surrounding Christmas, breaking a pandemic travel record as health officials warned Americans to stay home for the holidays as Covid-19 hospitalisations surge.

Christmas-related air travel surpassed 1 million daily passengers for three consecutive days, between the Friday and Sunday before Christmas. Over 10 days, more than 10 million people were screened.

The day before Christmas Eve, more than 1.1 million passengers were screened at US airports, a record-high number during the public health crisis, until Sunday’s travel numbers. More than 7 million passengers were screened into airports within the seven days before Christmas on 25 December.

That scale of commercial air travel has easily surpassed travel numbers from Thanksgiving that broke records during the pandemic. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged Americans to postpone travel and stay home during the holidays, “as this is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”

“The safest way to celebrate winter holidays is at home with the people who live with you,” the CDC has stressed. “Travel and gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase your chances of getting or spreading Covid-19 or the flu.”

Announcing the latest travel data, TSA public affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said: “If you choose to travel, please wear a mask.”

Health officials have feared that the surge in holiday travel will mirror a post-Thanksgiving spike in infections and daily hospitalisations, which have surpassed 110,000 patients every day for several weeks.

The nation’s infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci warned a “surge upon a surge” of infections was imminent as families gathered for Thanksgiving. Average daily cases have topped 215,00 within the month that followed. Record-breaking hospitalisations and deaths followed.

More than 333,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. Confirmed US infections have reached more than 19 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.


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