Friday marked the busiest day for American airports in nearly 13 months — as health experts warned that rising COVID-19 rates across the US could continue to surge.
Airport security agents screened 1,580,785 people at US airports on Friday — the most since March 12, 2020, just before the start of widespread COVID-19 lockdowns, TSA rep Lisa Farbstein posted on Twitter.
Friday’s throughput was more than 12 times the number of people who flew on the same day in 2020, according to TSA figures.
Air travel has slowly picked up since the beginning of the pandemic, when daily throughput dropped from nearly three million on some days to below 100,000.
The TSA had its first string of five consecutive days of over one million flyers over the Christmas holiday, and throughput has continued to trend upward — the last day with fewer than one million people screen was March 6.
Saturday saw 1,397,958 people go through US airport checkpoints, Farbstein said — an 800 percent jump compared to the same day last year.
The numbers came as experts warned that rising coronavirus rates could get worse in the coming weeks, despite the ongoing vaccination effort.
“At this point, we will see in the next two weeks, the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic. In terms of the United States, we’re just at the beginning of this surge, we haven’t even really begun to see it yet,” Michael Osterholm, the director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans to hold on a bit longer before trying to get back to normal life.
“What we’re saying is double down, just hang in there a bit longer,” the nation’s top infectious diseases doctor told CNN,
“And the vaccine, and the vaccinations of people in this country are going to override the surge of the virus. There’s no doubt the vaccine is going to win out.”