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More people traveled through US airports on Wednesday than any day since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the nation in March, the TSA said.
Just days ahead of Christmas, security agents screened 1,191,123 people at American airports on Dec. 23, TSA spokesman Lisa Farbstein said — the most in a single day since March 16, when 1,257,823 flyers passed through TSA checkpoints.
The surge in plane trips comes despite pleas from health officials to stay home and avoid travel during the holiday season amid an ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases.
Still, Wednesday’s throughput was just 61 percent of the number of people who passed through TSA screeners on the same day in 2019.
Air travel has been well below usual levels throughout the pandemic. As shutdowns took hold across the world, TSA agents screened as few as 90,000 people on multiple days in April.
Air travel began to creep up in late April and has continued a steady increase since then. This past weekend marked the first time since March where Friday, Saturday and Sunday all saw over a million people enter American airports, according to TSA figures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans not to hold inter-household holiday celebrations as the coronavirus continues to spread.
“People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households,” according to the agency’s guidance.
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