As we enter fall, COVID-19 is making a resurgence all over the U.S. right in time for the holiday season. To get a handle on the spike, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged the public to limit all nonessential travel for Thanksgiving, citing that the virus is easily spread among even small gatherings of more than one household. Despite this warning, many Americans are still hopping onto planes to visit loved ones, perhaps taking advantage of cheaper tickets or simply taking their chances. Airlines claim to be instituting better sanitation protocols, including wiping down seats and tray tables between flights and installing hospital-grade filters, but infectious disease specialists worry that these protocols may not be enough. Here are several compelling facts about holiday travelers and the pandemic.
COVID-19 Cases Are Setting New Records
People may be getting vacation time, but COVID-19 is not taking a holiday. Numbers have continued to rise, alarming health officials. The U.S. has been averaging more than 170,000 new cases per day, with deaths rising to more than 1,500 a day, the highest since the spring. Nov. 20 marked a one-day record of 196,000 new U.S. cases, according to Johns Hopkins.
3 Million Travelers Flew the Weekend Before Thanksgiving
Despite CDC warnings, more than 3 million people traveled through U.S. airport checkpoints from Friday, Nov. 20 through Sunday, Nov. 22. This is the highest number of travelers recorded since March when the pandemic began in earnest. The traffic forecast is likely to get even busier later this week, according to American Airlines, which plans to increase its schedule by about 15% during Thanksgiving week to accommodate travelers.
Sunday Was the Highest Day of Travel So Far
Flight Costs Are Down
Whether or not people are determined to visit family, they may also simply be taking advantage of cheaper flights. According to an analysis by CheapAir.com of airfare prices across the holiday season, holiday airfare prices have dropped by 25% in 2020, compared to 2019. And bookings in 2020 are about 60% fewer than this time last year.
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