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TSA screened nearly 1.3 million travelers Sunday, setting a new pandemic record

A passenger wearing personal protective equipment walks though Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX in November 2020. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles/TNS)

Nearly 1.3 million people traveled through American airports Sunday, setting a new pandemic travel record — despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stay at home to quell coronavirus cases.

The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1,284,599 people, many of whom were returning from holiday travel. That beats the TSA’s previous record of 1,191,123, set Dec. 23. On Saturday, 1,128,773 people went through TSA security checkpoints.

Sunday was the sixth day of the Christmas holiday rush to see screenings exceed 1 million per day. Many people began their travel last weekend, when the TSA screened more than a million passengers per day between Dec. 18-20.

As of Monday, the U.S. has more than 19 million cases of COVID-19 and 333,140 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.

The CDC previously urged Americans not to travel for the winter holidays, just as it did before Thanksgiving.

“The best thing for Americans to do in the upcoming holiday season is to stay at home and not travel,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said in a news briefing in early December. “Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing, Deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase.”

The CDC recommends that any one who did travel get tested for COVID-19 one to three days before their trips as well as three to five days afterward, and reduce nonessential activities for seven days after travel, Walke said. Those who do not get tested should reduce nonessential activities for 10 days after travel, the agency said.

Testing does not eliminate travel risk, Walke said, but when combined with reducing nonessential activities and other precautions, it can make “travel safer.” he said.

Before it stepped up advice on not traveling during the holidays, the CDC had given only general advice on travel during the pandemic: “Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.”

The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1,284,599 people, many of whom were returning from holiday travel. That beats the TSA’s previous record of 1,191,123, set Dec. 23. On Saturday, 1,128,773 people went through TSA security checkpoints.

Sunday was the sixth day of the Christmas holiday rush to see screenings exceed 1 million per day. Many people began their travel last weekend, when the TSA screened more than a million passengers per day between Dec. 18-20.

As of Monday, the U.S. has more than 19 million cases of COVID-19 and 333,140 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.

The CDC previously urged Americans not to travel for the winter holidays, just as it did before Thanksgiving.

“The best thing for Americans to do in the upcoming holiday season is to stay at home and not travel,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said in a news briefing in early December. “Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing, Deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase.”

The CDC recommends that any one who did travel get tested for COVID-19 one to three days before their trips as well as three to five days afterward, and reduce nonessential activities for seven days after travel, Walke said. Those who do not get tested should reduce nonessential activities for 10 days after travel, the agency said.

Testing does not eliminate travel risk, Walke said, but when combined with reducing nonessential activities and other precautions, it can make “travel safer.” he said.

Before it stepped up advice on not traveling during the holidays, the CDC had given only general advice on travel during the pandemic: “Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.”

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(c) 2020 USA Today

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