Thanksgiving Isn’t Canceled: Millions of Americans Carry on With Holiday Travel Plans Despite CDC Advice to Stay Home

PHOENIX: In Arizona, travelers were seen crowding the gates at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor on Friday where one person described the scene ‘about as crowded as it was before COVID hit’

Millions of Americans are carrying on with their travel plans ahead of Thanksgiving weekend despite the CDC‘s urgent warnings to stay home as the number of daily cases and hospitalizations in the country continue to hit record highs.

More than 193,000 new infections were recorded in the US on Friday – breaking the previous record for the largest single-day spike on Thursday – and over 82,000 patients are now hospitalized across the country.

Daily deaths also skyrocketed to 2,015, the highest number of fatalities per day since May during the initial peak of the virus, according to health data from Johns Hopkins University.

The alarming surge shows the nation is facing a second wave of the coronavirus this winter that could be more dangerous and widespread than the initial outbreak earlier this year.

‘When you look at what’s happening now, the rate of rise is dramatically different,’ White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, Dr Deborah Birx told CNN. ‘This is faster. It’s broader. And what worries me, it could be longer.’

It has also sparked fears among health experts that Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings next week will only fuel the spread of the virus and prolong the length of the pandemic.

PHOENIX: Passenger Ed Westerfield shared footage of travelers at the terminal as he boarded a flight to Puerto Vallarta
PHOENIX: Some passengers said they weren’t even aware of the CDC’s recommendations while others said they planned to travel nonetheless
Fears of a Thanksgiving surge have prompted many states and cities to impose near-lockdowns or other restrictions ahead of the holiday – typically the busiest travel day of the year in the United States

With the holidays around the corner, Dr Birx said Americans should help mitigate the spread of infection by limiting their Thanksgiving gatherings to immediate family members, rather than a maximum number of people.

The CDC on Thursday also recommended people avoid traveling during the holiday and advised against gathering with anyone who has not lived in the same household for at least 14 days, the incubation period for the virus.

Despite experts’ warnings, millions of Americans are going forward with their travel plans, with photos showing large crowds at airports across the country ahead of the holiday weekend.

Long lines of passengers were seen snaking around terminals at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Friday with little social distancing practices observed.

In Arizona, travelers were seen crowding the gates at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor, where one described the scene ‘about as crowded as it was before COVID hit.’

‘This is just jam-packed,’ said passenger Ed Westerfield, who shared footage of travelers boarding a flight to Puerto Vallarta.

Some passengers told KTVK they weren’t even aware of the travel advice from the CDC, while others said they still planned to travel nonetheless.

Curt Vurpillat, who was flying to Chicago, said the recommendation amid the surge of cases didn’t ‘trouble him at all.’

‘Not that I don’t think it’s real, but I have a life to live and things to do, so we take necessary precautions,’ he told the news station.

Similar scenes unfolded earlier this week at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey where passengers were seen lining up at check-in counters without keeping the recommended six-foot distance from others.

It comes ahead the annual Thanksgiving rush on the day before the holiday which is typically the busiest travel day of the year in the United States.

CHICAGO: Long lines of passengers were seen snaking around terminals at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Friday with little social distancing practices observed
CHICAGO: The recent weeks’ soaring numbers of coronavirus cases in Illinois prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reimpose harsher restrictions on social interaction. Pictured: Travelers at Chicago O’Hare on Friday
CHICAGO: People walk through a terminal as other wait in line at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Friday

CHICAGO: Long lines of passengers were seen snaking around terminals at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Friday with little social distancing practices observed

This year, shares in airlines and hotel companies have plummeted since the outbreak began as government officials have advised against unnecessary travel.

According to the AAA travel agency, the number of travelers this Thanksgiving is estimated to dip by at least 10 per cent – the largest single-year drop since 2008 – to 50million.

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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Karen Ruiz