Did you guys hear that there is a pandemic going on? I know, apparently it’s been in all the papers. I’m not the only one who seems to have missed it, as millions of Americans packed into airliners over the weekend in order to keep their holiday plans — with more on the way.
Two million Americans took to the friendly skies on Friday and Saturday alone, according to CNN:
Despite a record number of new Covid cases and the Centers for Disease Control recommending against traveling for Thanksgiving, Friday and Saturday were two of the busiest days at US airports since the pandemic brought air travel to a near halt in March.
The Transportation Security Administration screened slightly more than 1 million people at US airports on Friday. Saturday’s screenings fell just short of that mark, but were enough to bring the two-day total to 2 million.
That’s still only 42% of the volume screened on the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving a year ago, but it marks only the second- and third- busiest days for US airport traffic since mid-March. The only time that topped those days was October 18, when 1.03 million passengers were screened.
AAA, usually the go-to organization for holiday travel predictions, expected only 2.4 million air travelers over the entire Thanksgiving holiday. Since we almost hit that number over the weekend, AAA’s estimate will probably prove to be much too low. Scenes like this one, tweeted out over the weekend at the Phoenix airport, are currently playing out all over the country:
While the risks of catching COVID-19 while flying aren’t clear, airlines, at least, say they doing everything they can to cut down on transmissions, like cycling fresh air through the cabin and disinfecting surfaces.
If the idea of flying right now makes your skin crawl, just know that you’re not being any safer by driving to see your relatives. AAA estimates only a 10 percent drop in road traffic during holiday travel this week, despite the pandemic and the high unemployment rate:
Thanksgiving will be on the lighter side when it comes to the typical number of travelers on the roads and at airports. According to AAA Travel, effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including health concerns and high unemployment, are impacting Americans’ decisions to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. With health and government officials stressing that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick, AAA anticipates at least a 10% drop in travel – the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008.
But it’s less about how you travel and more what’s at the end of the road: those big family get-togethers. COVID-19 rates are through the roof again, and hospitals are once more filling up. As of this writing there have been 256,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S, according to the Washington Post. Healthcare workers are once again facing personal protection equipment shortages, and the U.S. is setting records for positive COVID tests across the country.
It goes without saying that this is pretty horrifying. Many states are seeing a huge spike in testing ahead of holiday parties, but that is also not a foolproof plan either. From CNN:
It can take days before a new infection shows up on a Covid-19 test.
“We know that the incubation period for Covid-19 is up to 14 days. And before that, you can be testing negative, and have no symptoms,” emergency medicine physician Dr. Leana Wen said.
“But you could actually be harboring the virus and be able to transmit it to others.”
National hospitalizations rates for COVID-19 are at a record 83,227, according to the New York Times. The only way to protect yourself and the ones you love is to stay home. Experts across the U.S., including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, are begging people to stay socially distant for the holidays, if only to slow the influx of cases showing up in hospitals.
If you were waiting for a sign or some kind of permission to skip holiday parties this year, here it is. From Jalopnik. Being subjected to your aunt’s lumpy gravy, or your cousin’s terrible opinions and worse table manners, just ain’t worth it. If your relatives have a problem with that, tell them to take it up with your favorite car bloggers.