Millions of Americans traveled for President’s Day weekend despite warnings from health experts to avoid taking to the skies.
New data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) shows that 4.03 million people passed threw airport security checkpoints between Thursday and Sunday.
On Friday alone, a total of 1.15 million people took flights.
These are the highest figure seen in more than a month when 4.4 million were screened by the TSA between New Year’s Day and January 4.
It comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that travel could trigger more surges in COVID-19 infections and amid airlines’ fury that the White House might start requiring negative tests for domestic travelers
New TSA data shows 4.03 million Americans passed threw airport security checkpoints between Thursday and Sunday for President’s Day weekend. Pictured; People wait for a flight at an international terminal at JFK Airport in New York City, January 25
This the highest figure seen in more than a month when 4.4 million people flew between New Year’s Day and January 4. Pictured: People wait for a flight at an international terminal at JFK Airport in New York City, January 25
The CDC has been very vocal in warning Americans to not travel, especially as new variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil continue to spread.
‘If someone must travel, they should get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before the trip,’ the agency said.
‘After travel, getting tested with a viral test three to five days post-travel and staying home and self-quarantining for 7 days, even if test results are negative, is a recommended public health measure to reduce risk.’
Airlines, however, have been concerned about a new rule that would mandate all passengers be tested for coronavirus before traveling, which would drive down passenger loads even further.
The U.S. already requires all international travelers coming into the country show proof of a negative COVID-19 test in.
Passengers are required to get tested no more than three days before their flight and show a negative result to the airline before boarding.
In one of his last weeks in office, former President Donald Trump announced he was lifting coronavirus-related travel restrictions for Europe, the UK, Ireland and Brazil, effective on January 26.
This was quickly reverse by President Joe Biden after he was sworn in.
On Sunday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Axios on HBO that the Department of Transportation and the CDC were considering requiring all passengers to get a negative COVID-19 test before boarding any domestic flight.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian called the proposal a ‘horrible idea’ and said that air travel poses a minimal due to air filter on planes that filter in fresh air every few minutes.
‘In fact [there are] very, very few documented cases globally, not just domestically,’ Bastian told CNN’s Poppy Harlow of COVID-19 cases related to air-travel.
‘It would set us back another year in the recovery.’
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday asking that the Biden administration not impose the rule.
‘We believe such a mandate would be counterproductive, costly, and have serious unintended consequences, including for millions of people who have travel needs but may not have access to testing resources and for the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on a stable air travel industry,’ Kelly wrote in the letter.
However the CDC told CNN it will not be recommending a testing requirement before domestic air travel,
‘At this time, CDC is not recommending required point of departure testing for domestic travel,’ the statement read.
‘As part of our close monitoring of the pandemic, in particular the continued spread of variants, we will continue to review public health options for containing and mitigating spread of COVID-19 in the travel space.’