Once again, though air travel is just half of what it was last year, more than three million Americans boarded airliners over a three-day period spanning this past weekend. It represented the busiest three-day stretch of travel this year, outpacing Thanksgiving, with over a million people flying daily on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
ABC7 caught up with travelers flying out of LAX airport in Los Angeles, and the attitudes of the passengers were honestly chilling:
“I’m traveling to see my children and my granddaughter and spent two days at Disney World, then I’ll zip back and get back to work,” said San Diego resident Suzi Lieber at LAX.
For the first time since the pandemic started, TSA agents screened more than 1 million people for three consecutive days — Friday, Saturday and Sunday — the start of the holiday travel season. However, those numbers are greatly reduced from last year — down 57%.
“Life goes on. Whatever we need to keep going, it is what it is,” said Clovis resident Claudia Winton. “We’ll take caution and stay out of crowded places. The kids need to have fun.”
AAA says the vast majority of travelers will be hitting the road.
Eighty-five million people are expected to travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, the prime time for Christmas and New Year’s travel — most doing so by car. Those at LAX, though, say they feel safe flying.
“Take all the safety precautions. I’ve been on the front lines for a while for this, and this is the time I needed to take a little break before going back on the front line,” said Reggie Jones of Long Beach.
Meanwhile, a man with COVID-like symptoms died while aboard a Los Angeles-bound flight last week.
You read that right.
These cavalier quotes are from people who were flying out of the same airport a passenger who may have died of COVID-19 was headed to last week. It’s looking more likely that it was indeed COVID-19, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is contacting passengers and United Airlines employees who may have been exposed during the event, according to Fox 11.
A spokesperson for United told Fox 11 that they were told the man died of cardiac arrest, but passengers near the ill man and his wife heard the surviving spouse tell emergency workers that he was symptomatic and complaining of shortness of breath before boarding.
Some United passengers on the flight reached out to the airline via Twitter:
Another passenger who performed CPR on the man for close to an hour is now feeling “symptomatic”
The CDC is urging Americans to stay home this holiday season or, if they must travel, get tested before embarking on a plane and after you arrive. If you have been in contact with anyone who is suspected of having COVID-19, or if you have any COVID-19 symptoms yourself, please, please, please stay home — even if you have plane tickets to somewhere fun.
As of this writing, COVID-19 has killed more than 318,000 Americans since March. The Washington Post puts those numbers into perspective:
For all of the efforts by some to diminish the death toll and to shrug at the steadily expanding saturation of American hospital beds, our country is losing an American every 33 seconds to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that emerged last year.
Every time you listen to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” about five people have died of the virus between the beginning and the end of the song.
Stay safe and stay home.