US air travel spikes to highest level since March

Airports saw the most travelers Sunday since March, far surpassing daily totals

Sunday marked the busiest travel day at U.S. airports since March, prompting concern among the nation's top health officials who fear the uptick in travel may hinder efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 1,176,091 individuals at checkpoints across the country on Nov. 29, marking the highest passenger volume recorded since around March 16.

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The milestone followed a very busy travel week ahead of Thanksgiving when anywhere from 800,000 to more than 1 million travelers made their way through airport checkpoints every day. In the weekend leading up to the holiday, TSA had already screened more than three million people.

It's a stark contrast to the number of people traveling earlier in the pandemic when daily totals fell below 100,000 on some spring days.

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The increase in passenger volume, although a noteworthy development for the devastated airline industry, indicates that droves of Americans kept their travel plans and disregarded advice from public health experts that have increasingly begged people to stay home and avoid large gatherings.

As a result, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said the country may see a “surge upon a surge” of infections in the coming weeks.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week” that the level of infection in the U.S. would not “all of a sudden turn around.”

“So clearly in the next few weeks, we’re going to have the same sort of thing. And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line ... we may see a surge upon a surge,” he said.

Fauci also appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he made similar remarks, adding that it’s “not too late” for people traveling home after Thanksgiving to help curb the virus by wearing masks, staying distant from others and avoiding large groups of people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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