On Thursday, September 3, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported the highest number of passengers moving through U.S. airports since March 17, when the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect took hold. Thursday’s number was 877,698, but, as more Americans head off on long-weekend getaways ahead of the Labor Day holiday, the agency expects today to be even busier, with passenger numbers topping 900,000.
“For travelers who have not flown since the beginning of the pandemic, the TSA checkpoint experience will be noticeably different as compared to Labor Day last year,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a press release. “Passengers also play an important role in helping us ensure they safely and efficiently get through security screening at our airports while wearing masks and respecting social distancing.”
Airlines had certainly been predicting somewhat of an uptick in air travelers over Labor Day weekend, just as they had done over Memorial Day and Fourth of July. While this improvement is certainly cause to for the travel industry to celebrate, it. Yesterday’s TSA pandemic-era record numbers still represent only a partial recovery, coming in at just under 42 percent of the passenger volume recorded for the same day last year, which was 2,109,858.
Interestingly, according to ABC News’ report, the largest proportion of Labor Day travel bookings were made for trips to Florida. Travel itinerary app TripIt said that travel-related reservations in the Sunshine State were up over 200 percent compared to 2019’s Labor Day weekend, leading it to report that, “Florida is this year’s hot spot.”
Of course, especially given the surge in COVID-19 infections that Florida experienced following the Fourth of July weekend, experts are concerned about the influx of out-of-state visitors. People moving in and out of Florida, as well as other states that are already coronavirus hotspots, could translate to yet another wave of new infections.
Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer for the Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor of epidemiology at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News: “It’s very predictable,” Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer for the Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor of epidemiology at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News. “Major holidays, where people are moving—increases in mobility lead to transmission, and you see cases start to surge two weeks later.”
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