Thanksgiving travel is surging despite new coronavirus cases approaching 200,000 a day in the United States.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance on Thursday urging Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving. But millions of Americans are still planning to travel over the holiday week.
On Friday, the number of travelers screened at US airport security checkpoints topped 1 million for only the second time since March, according to Transportation Security Administration figures. That's still just 40% of the volume screened on the Friday before Thanksgiving a year ago.
Many weary Americans eager to join family and friends for Thanksgiving face another risk calculation as they weigh scrapping travel plans at the last minute or going ahead as Covid-19 cases surge.
Gail Duilio, a retired public health nurse in Portland, Oregon, has canceled her flight to Minnesota for the holiday and her mother's 93rd birthday.
"When making the arrangements a month ago, I felt the risks vs. benefits weighed on the side of going," she told CNN. This week, the risks tipped the scales in the other direction for her.
Travel organization AAA has said that it expects at least a 10% drop in travel this Thanksgiving because of spiking coronavirus cases, shifting travel restrictions and calls by health and government officials for people to stay home.
AAA forecasts nearly 48 million travelers will drive to their destinations, representing a 4.3% drop from last year in the number of people traveling by car over the holiday period, which AAA defines as Wednesday to Sunday.
Air travel is expected to see its largest one-year decrease on record for Thanksgiving, a nearly 48% drop, with just 2.4 million travelers expected to fly, according to the organization.
Julio Perez, a mechanical engineer from Palm Bay, Florida, expects to be among those flying. He has a Delta flight to Atlanta on Monday to see his mother.
"I'll be taking sanitary wipes in a zip lock bag to clean surfaces and not touch door handles while at the airport. I will also be wearing a mask the whole time. Good thing the trip is only 1.5 hours of flight time," he wrote in a message to CNN.
The Transportation Security Administration expects that Thanksgiving numbers will be "relatively consistent" with the end of the long Columbus Day weekend when more than a million people flew on Sunday, Oct. 18, marking the first time passenger numbers topped 1 million since March. — CNN
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