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December 29, 2020

Record numbers travel for Christmas holiday despite COVID warnings, Thanksgiving surge

Around 1.3 million travelers passed through airports on Dec. 27 alone

Travel COVID-19
COVID-19-traveling-Christmas.original.jpg Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Travel surged to 1.3 million travelers Sunday, making in the highest volume travel day since the start of the pandemic.

Nearly 1.3 million people passed through airport security checkpoints Sunday, marking the largest number of people to travel in a single day since the start of the pandemic. 

While that figure is only half the number of fliers from the same day last year, health experts warn that it's still far too high.

Leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said things will likely get worse in the coming weeks because of increased travel during the holidays, CNBC reported.

"We very well might see a post-seasonal — in the sense of Christmas, New Year's — surge, as I've described it, as a surge upon a surge," Fauci said on CNN's "State of the Union."

This record-setting day comes amid an overall spike in airline travel, according to Transportation Security Administration. In the week before Christmas, around 1 million passengers traveled every day. Christmas Day travel dipped to 616,496 passengers.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, Dean of Emory University's School of Medicine, told CNN that those traveling for the holidays should get tested for COVID-19 twice. 

"Your level of protection is as strong as your weakest link, and if there's a weak link, then the virus is going to spread," del Rio said. "We've learned how quickly and how easily this virus spreads, so we have to take all the precautions possible."

In November, the TSA saw nearly 1 million passengers per day for five days around the Thanksgiving holiday. 

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving held the title as the highest volume travel day of the year at over 1 million passengers before the Dec. 27 numbers came in. The Thanksgiving surge in travel caused a significant spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, with an average of 189,578 daily cases and 2,250 daily deaths

"When you are dealing with a baseline of 200,000 cases per day and 2,000 deaths per day with hospitalizations over 120,000, we are really at a very critical point," Fauci said to CNN.

Philadelphia has seen 91,429 positive cases and 2,369 deaths since the start of the pandemic in March.

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