Every day, nearly one million Americans flood airports and fill up planes to travel during the weekend despite government officials warning of the rising coronavirus cases in the last few weeks and public health experts urging citizens to stay at home and avoid large gatherings.

Traveling amid the pandemic

Analysts expect the numbers to grow as the holiday season continues to gather families together. Officials are expecting next Sunday to be the busiest day of the festive season, with more people traveling across the nation.

Compared to last year’s numbers, people traveling this Thanksgiving were cut in half due to the restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic. However, the flyers that flew through U.S. airport checkpoints between Friday and Sunday marked the highest number of commutes that officials have observed since mid-March.

A lot of people have become careless with safety protocols amid the health crisis and have begun seeing faraway relatives despite the risks. Additionally, most college institutions have marked the end of their in-person classes, allowing students to travel to other family members freely.

The director of administration for a Minneapolis law firm, Laurie Pearcy, plans to travel to New Orleans for her daughter’s bridal shower. The official also plans to attend a small Thanksgiving dinner with her son. Pearcy said, “I don’t want to unknowingly make anyone sick. But I also don’t want to miss this special event for my only daughter.”

Retired executive from Tucson, Arizona, Stephen Browning, has a scheduled flight to visit his sister in Seattle for Thanksgiving. In previous years, the event included up to 30 people, but due to the coronavirus restrictions, only a maximum of ten would be coming to this year’s celebration. Additionally, attendees are required to get tested for the COVID-19 virus before going to the site.

Browning said that his scheduled flight would be his first air travel since December 2019, making him anxious about the whole ordeal. However, he believes that airlines have taken necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their customers.

Threat of the virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week urged citizens to avoid traveling or visiting family members during the holiday season. Officials said that people should be aware of the risks as the coronavirus pandemic is not yet showing signs of slowing down.

An infectious disease epidemiologist, Dr. Syra Madad, said that the country has been seeing a massive surge of positive cases in the last few weeks. He noted that the chances of encountering a person infected with the virus were severely high. Madad said that no matter the mode of transportation or travel, the threat of the virus was at an all-time high, News Max reported.

The top infectious disease expert in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, argued that people traveling through airports across the nation are going to cause a much bigger problem in the future.

However, some may have fears of traveling amid the threat of the coronavirus as airport bookings this year have gone down by nearly 60% compared to the same time last year. Reservations during Thanksgiving saw an increase in October but have begun slowly declining once again after case numbers spiked.

While canceling holiday plans to visit family members might be tough, most people now understand that keeping everyone safe is a much higher priority.

Every year, Kelly Kleber goes back to her hometown of Tucson from Seattle to visit her parents. The family gathers together and pay their respects to her sister, who died in 2015 during Thanksgiving. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced Kleber to settle on a video meeting with her relatives and send a portrait of her sister. She said, “It’s going to be hard being away from family this year.”