TSA Screened Millions Over Christmas Week Despite CDC COVID Travel Warning

The Transport Security Administration (TSA) screened almost 1.3 million passengers on Sunday—the highest number of flyers checked in a single day since March, new data has revealed.

TSA checkpoint figures show that the agency screened 1.28 million passengers yesterday, and a little more than 1.1 million on Saturday. The last time the agency screened more than 1.2 million passengers in a single day was March 16, when 1.25 million flyers passed through its checkpoints.

Over the whole of last week, more than seven million passengers passed through TSA checkpoints, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning Americans to postpone their festive travel plans.

"Travel may increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19," the CDC said in a notice earlier this month. "CDC continues to recommend postponing travel and staying home, as this is the best way to protect yourself and others this year."

The public health body also advised Americans to consider whether the people they would be visiting were at an "increased risk" of getting very sick from the virus, and whether cases in the area were already high.

Newsweek has contacted the TSA for comment and will update this article with any response.

The latest data passenger screening data was released as COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to mount over the festive period, with more than 118,000 people battling the virus on American wards Sunday.

The COVID Tracking Project run by The Atlantic recorded that 118,720 people were in American hospitals yesterday as a result of having COVID-19, bringing the 7-day average to 118,248 hospitalizations.

Daily cases and deaths were both found to have fallen below their seven-day averages at the same time, but the data likely reflected a lag in reporting over the festive period, not an improvement in the situation.

The COVID Tracking Project urged users to treat the data with caution because some states failed to report data over the Christmas break while others gave "incomplete" updates.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, warned that a further "post-seasonal" surge in COVID-19 cases was potentially on the horizon in light of the new data.

"The reason I'm concerned, and my colleagues in public health are concerned, also, is that we very well might see a post-seasonal—in the sense of Christmas and New Year's—surge," Fauci told CNN on Sunday.

"If you look at the slope, the incline of cases that we've experienced as we've gone into the late fall, and soon-to-be early winter, it is really quite troubling."

According to the latest CDC data, the U.S. has recorded more than 18.9 million COVID-19 cases and 330,901 related deaths since the start of the year. Daily cases have stood at 56 per 100,000 over the past seven days on average.

Dulles International Airport, Virginia
Passengers walk through a crowded terminal at Dulles International airport in Dulles, Virginia on December 27, 2020 Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images