US holiday travellers ‘can boost coronavirus surge’
While many in the US celebrated a muted Thanksgiving over Zoom, millions of people travelled instead, rejecting the advice of public officials.
According to Transportation Safety Administration data, about 800,000 to one million people passed through TSA checkpoints each day in the days before and after the holiday — far lower than the same period last year, but likely far higher than epidemiologists had hoped to see.
A United Airlines spokeswoman, Annabelle Cottee, said the week of Thanksgiving was “the busiest since March” for the carrier.
Americans also took to the roads. AAA predicted significant declines in bus, train and cruise travel, but predicted only a modest drop in car travel.
For several days leading up to Thanksgiving, as case numbers and hospitalisations across the country grew exponentially, political leaders and medical experts warned of the dangers of compounding the virus spread by being with others. In November alone, there have been more than 4.1 million cases and more than 25,500 deaths.
There were 91,635 current hospitalisations as of November 28, according to the Covid Tracking Project, almost twice as many as there were on November 1, and triple the number on October 1.
Aware of the emotional resonance of the holiday, experts tried to thread a narrative from these numbers that would convince people of the danger.