On Monday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it had screened 1.17 million passengers at U.S. airport checkpoints, marking a new high mark since the COVID-19 pandemic started in mid-March.
The number is down from the 2.8 million that the TSA screened on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019, a number that holds the mark as the highest volume ever in TSA history, but does set a new COVID-19 high. It’s also the second time in a week that the TSA broke through the 1 million passenger mark—Wednesday, Nov. 25 saw the TSA screen 1.07 million passengers.
According to the TSA, the rest of the week saw 560,902 travel on Thursday (down from 1.59 in 2019); 820,399 on Friday (down from 1.968 million in 2019); and 964,630 on Saturday (down from 2.68 million in 2019).
The high mark came even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Americans avoid traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday as infection numbers continued to climb last week. In a statement, the CDC said that “as we’re seeing exponential growth in cases, and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another, leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time.”
The CDC, ahead of Thanksgiving, was only recommending Americans spend Thanksgiving with only the people living in the same home for at least two weeks prior to the holiday.
After a few weeks of bullish vaccine headlines from biotech companies, Monday saw more developments.
Moderna, which announced earlier in November that its prospective COVID-19 vaccine was 94% effective in preventing COVID-19, on Monday said that it was seeking emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With the news, Moderna joins Pfizer, which had already applied for the same authorization for its vaccine on Nov. 20.
While emergency use authorization isn’t the same as full FDA approval, Moderna still expects to be able to start distributing the first doses of its vaccine within a few weeks, once they are able to secure full FDA authorization.
According to the latest data from MMGY’s TIPS survey, the potential and availability of a vaccine would impact travel decisions, more than any other factor, for a majority (53%) of the traveling public. Less than half of those respondents (45%) said that they would take the vaccine as soon as it is available, while 46% said that they would wait “at least a few months” to see if it effective before taking it.