The TSA screened more than 1.3 million passengers through the airports on Sunday. This is a new pandemic travel record, and the numbers are far beyond expectations considering the warning given by CDC about traveling during the holiday season. The record numbers are attributed to travelers moving back home after the Christmas holidays.
Pandemic Travel Record: TSA Screened 1.3 Million Travelers On Sunday
Even though the numbers are relatively lower when compared to the previous year’s numbers, it is still high for the pandemic season. The CDC had given a strict warning about traveling during the holidays as it can lead to a huge surge in the number of coronavirus cases after the holidays. The CDC had urged people to stay at home during the year-end holidays as it wanted to avoid the situation that arose after the Thanksgiving event.
The year has been a tough one for the travel industry as passenger counts fell by a huge margin soon after the pandemic started spreading in March. The number of passengers per day fell below 100,000 during April, and it was the lowest during the pandemic season. However, things started improving later on from September when the lockdown was removed, and traveling was opened partially across several states. The numbers reached 1 million in October for the first time since April. However, as the number of cases started to increase across the country after that, travel slowed down by some margin.
Later during the Thanksgiving holidays, the numbers increased by a huge margin, and it reached more than a million for many days. The CDC was quick to issue warnings to passengers during that time, as it felt that this could lead to a huge surge in the number of covid cases in the near future. However, travelers did not pay attention to such warnings, and they started traveling in large numbers. The result was visible soon after the Thanksgiving holidays as the nation saw a record number of covid cases after the holidays.
It is interesting to note that the country reached 20 million covid cases recently. The surprising thing about the numbers is that it took nearly 8 months to reach the first 10 million cases, and it took about 2 months to reach the next 10 million. In this way, traveling contributed in a huge way to the rise in the number of covid cases.
Not only that, but experts also point out the methods used by the travel industry to screen passengers as the reason for the increase in covid cases. The CDC had issued guidelines to screen passengers based on thermal scanners, and this was the basic way to detect the passengers who had symptoms. However, experts say that this is not a foolproof method as the covid symptoms are often confusing, and many patients do not have abnormal temperature even when they are covid positive.
Apart from that, the airlines also relied on getting information about the covid symptoms from the passengers. The airlines offered a voluntary disclosure form in which passengers mentioned having any covid symptoms in recent weeks. As there was no method for testing the passengers, this method led to very low detection of positive cases for many months. The CDC eventually removed such guidelines as they were able to catch only about 10 cases in 8 months using such screening methods. Later, proper covid testing was introduced for some time, and passengers were asked to submit the covid testing report before traveling by flight. This method should be continued for some more time as it will help the travel industry to limit the number of cases in the near future.