Nov. 27 (UPI) — The U.S. Transportation Security Administration screened more than 5 million travelers in the week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The period beginning Friday was the busiest stretch for passenger traffic at U.S. airports since the onset of the pandemic, with 1.1 million travelers being screened nationwide on Friday, surpassing the previous high of 1.03 million on Oct. 18, according to Skift.
Friday’s travel numbers were roughly half of the 2.5 million passengers screened by the TSA in 2019.
The record number of travelers came despite a “strong recommendation” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention against traveling for the holidays.
“We’re alarmed about the exponential [increases],” Dr. Henry Walke, incident manager at the CDC, said. “COVID-19 is turning out to be a formidable foe and we need to be united in our efforts to fight this virus,” he said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday.”
The United States reported 181,490 new cases and 2,297 deaths on Wednesday and a total of 12.78 million cases and more than 262,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.
The TSA has made efforts to help reduce virus spread, including allowing passengers carrying containers of hand sanitizer larger than 3 ounces through checkpoints, while some airlines have presented travelers the option to order a COVID-19 test along with their ticket.