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Air travel exceeded 1 million a day during most of Thanksgiving holiday, despite calls to stay home

Data is showing vehicle travel over the Thanksgiving holiday was only 5% less than the same time last year.

Updated: December 4, 2020 - 2:28pm

Public health officials along with mayors, governors and the CDC urged families and friends stay a part during Thanksgiving and only gather in small groups to control the coronavirus. Yet vehicle and air travel were both up compared to the rest of the pandemic-consumed year. 

In early November, vehicle travel was down as much as 20% compared 2019, according to an analysis by StreetLight Data. As the holiday approached, travel increased and peaked on Thanksgiving with vehicle travel down only 5% compared to the same time last year. 

Some leaders, like the mayors of Denver and Austin, told the public this month not to travel while traveling themselves, prompting harsh backlash.

Air travel remained significantly down from last year. But during the Thanksgiving weekend, the industry had some of its busiest days since the start of the pandemic.

Airport security screened more than 1 million passengers on four different days throughout the holiday travel period. The only other day that airports has over 1 million flyers since the outbreak in March was on Oct. 18. 

“If only a small percentage of those travelers were asymptomatically infected, this can translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections moving from one community to another,” Dr. Cindy Friedman, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official, said this week during a briefing.

With Americans likely traveling during Christmas and New Years, number are again expected to he higher. 

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