Regardless of warnings of COVID-19, U.S. air site visitors spikes forward of Thanksgiving
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A health care worker prepares sample collection tubes at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive-through test site in Houston
By Daniel Trotta and Nathan Layne
(Reuters) – Millions of Americans seemed to be shaking off public health warnings and traveling before this week’s Thanksgiving festival, likely causing an alarming spike in coronavirus infections before a number of promising new vaccines became widely available.
With US COVID-19 infections averaging 168,000 new cases per day, Americans flocked to the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US General Surgeon, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. Supreme State, airports infectious disease expert.
For Americans, the long vacation weekend that starts Thursday has traditionally been the busiest travel period of the year, and 2020 may not be an exception.
Around 1 million passengers passed the airport security gates on Sunday, the highest number since March. It was the second time in three days that U.S. air travel screenings exceeded 1 million, despite the numbers falling nearly 60% from the same period last year, the U.S. Transportation Security Agency said.
Likewise, the American Automobile Association has forecast 45 to 50 million people will hit the highways for vacation, compared to 55 million in 2019.
The rising rates of coronavirus infections, deaths and hospitalizations have continued unabated.
The seven-day average US COVID-19 deaths rose for a twelfth day in a row, reaching 1,500 on Monday, according to official Reuters data, while coronavirus hospital stays have increased nearly 50% nationwide in the past two weeks. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)
To date, the highly contagious respiratory virus has killed over 255,000 Americans, of whom over 12 million have been infected since the pandemic began.
State and local officials have imposed a number of restrictions on social and economic life in recent weeks to contain the spread as medical experts warn that the surge is draining the national health system’s resources.
Governor Andrew Cuomo asked residents to stay home and avoid gatherings during the holiday season, reminding New Yorkers of the grim beginnings of the pandemic, when up to 800 people died across the state in a single day.
HOSPITALS AND HOPE
According to Cuomo, hospital stays in New York state have increased 122% in the past three weeks, leading to the reopening of an emergency medical facility on Staten Island.
Health officials have urged Americans to resist the temptation to lose their vigilance, noting that aid is on the way in the form of promising vaccines nearing initial spread in the US.
The head of the U.S. ‘Rapid Vaccine Campaign’ said the first shots could be given to health care workers and other high priority recipients as early as mid-December, within a day or two of regulatory approval.
A vaccine out Pfizer Inc (NYSE 🙂 and its German partner BioNTech are expected to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration with a second vaccine from Modern (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc was en route for FDA review before year end.
Late-stage studies with both vaccines were about 95% effective in preventing infection. UK manufacturer of a third vaccine, AstraZeneca (NASDAQ :), announced that its candidate has been shown to be 90% effective with no serious side effects and that 700 million doses could be completed worldwide by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
Fear and determination
Even so, due to the needs of the family and the fatigue of COVID-19 restrictions, many Americans have resisted health advice that could save their lives.
“We won’t be scared by COVID,” said Brian McDonough, 47, a construction worker and hardworking mask wearer who plans to spend Thanksgiving with his sister near his home in Worth, Illinois. He’ll bring cake for dessert.
“We’re being tested, we’re negative, so life goes on,” he said. “Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving. Christmas is Christmas. New Year is New Year. If people die, it will happen and there is nothing we can do about it until we get a vaccine.”
Edie Taylor, a building design specialist in Oakland, Calif., 29, was less confident as she prepared to board a flight to her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama for a family reunion and then stay through the New Years.
“It’s terrifying,” said Taylor, who said she changed her plans in the face of the worsening pandemic, but after leaving her Oakland apartment, “I had nowhere to live. I just have to get on that plane.” “”
However, many Americans are more cautious.
Donnalie Hope, 78, of Petersburg, West Virginia, plans to make fresh cranberries, mashed potatoes, and her famous corn pudding for Thanksgiving, which she will spend with her visiting daughter and a neighbor.
Hope said they were trying to create social distance in their home and she planned to have rubber gloves and hand sanitizer on hand. She admitted that her guests could take off their masks at home.
“I try very hard to be compliant because I want this country to go back to where it belongs,” said Hope.