The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened more than three million passengers over the weekend, just days after federal health officials suggested Americans avoid traveling during the holidays.
A total of 1,047,934 people were screened at security checkpoints at airports across the nation on Sunday, marking the highest passenger volume since the virus prompted a "steep decline" in travel in early March, TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein tweeted.
Sunday also marked the second time in three days that checkpoint volume surpassed one million passengers, Farbstein said.
On Friday, TSA screened 1,019,836 passengers, followed by an additional 984,369 passengers on Saturday. The numbers indicate a boost in travel compared to a week earlier, when 881,579 passengers were screened on Nov. 13 and 697,360 passengers on Nov. 14.
The one million single-day passenger volume is a "noteworthy development that follows significant TSA checkpoint modifications in response to the COVID-19 outbreak," according to the agency. However, the increase comes amid renewed efforts by governments and public health officials to keep Americans home for the upcoming holidays in order to stem the increase in infections nationwide.
Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged against traveling to visit friends and relatives during the holiday season, including Thanksgiving.
The CDC’s warning was some of the firmest guidance from the agency regarding curtailing holiday gatherings. However, officials fear that the holiday gatherings might exacerbate the pandemic while diagnosed infections, hospitalizations and deaths are already skyrocketing across the country.
In a telebriefing held last Thursday, Dr. Henry Walke, the agency’s COVID-19 incident manager, said that during this "critical phase, the CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period."
The agency reiterated this guidance on its website citing one million new cases of coronavirus reported nationwide last week alone.
"The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with," the agency said.
Gatherings that bring together family and friends from different households, including college students, "pose varying levels of risk" for getting or spreading both COVID-19 and the flu, the CDC added.
According to the CDC, it's specially important for anyone who has been diagnosed with the virus, who has symptoms, who is waiting for test results, who may have been exposed over the last two weeks or who is at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to avoid gatherings.
Local governments nationwide are also doing their part by issuing curfews and implementing stricter protocols on indoor and outdoor gatherings.