In a recurrence of what recently transpired over the Thanksgiving holiday, the U.S is witnessing a surge in travel for Christmas.
The total number of travelers over the weekend set a new record for the highest amount over a single weekend during the pandemic. An average of over one million travelers passed through TSA checkpoints from last Friday to Monday this week, according to the most recent TSA data.
While travel numbers for the Christmas holiday are considerably less than in normal years, the upswing in travel is significant. The last time over a million passengers were screened in a single day was during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Similar to the fallout over Thanksgiving, it appears that many travelers are choosing to disregard the CDC’s warning to avoid all forms of travel.
Most Americans Traveling by Car
While air travel is breaking records for the Christmas holiday, the vast majority of travel will be done on the road.
According to a recent report released by AAA, 96% of Christmas holiday travel in the U.S will be on the road, accounting for as many as 81 million Americans. AAA notes that low gas prices may be enjoyed by travelers hitting the road. Gas prices are currently 50 cents less than the same time last year, and down 19% from 2019 averages.
The report further estimates a total of 84.5 million Americans traveling overall from December 23 through January 3, down by 34 million from last year.
Officials Fear COVID-19 Surge from Travel
Due to the surge in holiday travel, many officials are warning of increased COVID-19 transmission in the weeks to come.
The caution of increased travel resulting in higher transmission is assumed due to the high amount of interaction amongst travelers.
The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases has jumped to nearly 250 000, an increase from 176 000 a day before Thanksgiving. Though the totality of the surge cannot be attributed to Thanksgiving travel, many experts believe it was a major factor. Subsequently, officials are cautioning a similar progression resulting from Christmas travel.
CDC Warns Travel Could Spread New British COVID-19 Strain in U.S
In addition to the increased transmission of COVID-19 from holiday travel, the CDC is warning Americans that travel between the UK and the U.S will increase the likelihood of the new strain being imported into the country. The new variant of COVID-19 which emerged in the UK has not yet been discovered in the U.S. In regards to this, the CDC states:
“The VOC 202012/01 variant has not been identified through sequencing efforts in the United States, although viruses have only been sequenced from about 51,000 of the 17 million US cases. Ongoing travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the high prevalence of this variant among current UK infections, increase the likelihood of importation.”
The new strain of COVID-19 has emerged in the U.K and accounts for 60% of recent infections in London. While little is known of this new strain, the CDC implicates that the strain is easier to spread amongst humans.
The occurrence of the new strain has caused London to go into lockdown, and many nations around the world have closed their borders to travelers from the UK.
Currently, the US has not closed its borders to the UK.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories