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TSA screens record-high number of travelers ahead of Christmas holiday

TSA screening
Posted at 12:25 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 12:26:03-05

Despite pleas from federal and local leaders to stay home for the holidays and keep gatherings to household members, the TSA screened nearly 1.2 million travelers Wednesday, a record high during the pandemic.

According to TSA reports, 1,191,123 people were screened at TSA checkpoints at the country’s airports on December 23. This is the highest number of travelers since mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic and fears about spreading the deadly virus slowed down travel.

Wednesday’s high number of travelers beat the previous pandemic-period record set the Sunday after Thanksgiving, with 1,176,091 travelers.

For comparison, Wednesday’s amount of travelers is down 38% compared to the same weekday a year ago - which happened to be Christmas Day.

Wednesday was the 8th time there have been more than 1 million air travelers in the U.S. since March 16, and the 4th time in the month of December alone.

Here’s a look at which days since mid-March have had more than 1 million travelers go through TSA checkpoints:

October 18: 1,031,505

November 20: 1,019,836

November 25: 1,070,967

November 29: 1,176,091

December 18: 1,066,747

December 19: 1,073,563

December 20: 1,064,619

December 23: 1,191,123

Following the Thanksgiving holiday, many states reported surges in coronavirus cases. The CDC had issued guidance ahead of Christmas warning people to keep their celebrations small and with those who live with them.

“As cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase across the United States, the safest way to celebrate the winter holidays is to celebrate at home with people who live with you,” the guidance reads.

Anyone who travels should take precautions both before and after, by isolating themselves and getting tested.

As of Thursday morning, the U.S. has recorded almost 18.5 million cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic started, and the virus has caused more than 326,000 deaths in this country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The CDC says just over 1 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered and more than 9 million have been delivered around the country.

Global Coronavirus Tracker:

See map here
Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.