Millions of Americans took to the skies and the highways ahead of Thanksgiving, disregarding increasingly dire warnings that they stay home and limit their holiday gatherings to members of their own household. Those who are flying witnessed a distinctly 2020 landscape at the nation’s airports: plexiglass barriers in front of the ID stations, rapid virus testing sites inside terminals, masks in check-in areas and on board planes, and paperwork asking passengers to quarantine on arrival at their destination. While the number of Americans traveling by air over the past several days was down dramatically from the same time last year, many pressed ahead with their holiday plans amid skyrocketing deaths, hospitalizations, and confirmed infections across the US, the AP reports.
Some were tired of more than eight months of social distancing and determined to spend time with loved ones. About 900,000 to 1 million people per day passed through US airport checkpoints from Friday through Wednesday, a drop-off of around 60% from the same time a year ago. Still, those were some of the biggest crowds since the COVID-19 crisis took hold in the US in March. On Wednesday, the more than 1 million people screened at airports was the largest total since the start of the pandemic. Many states and cities have adopted precautions. Travelers to Los Angeles, either by plane or train, were required to fill out an online form acknowledging California's request that people quarantine for two weeks after arrival in the state. (Denver's mayor flew to Mississippi less than half an hour after urging people not to travel.)