U.S. air travel hit a pandemic-high on Sunday following Christmas, with at least 1.28 million Americans flying, according to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) data.
It was the sixth day in a row that nearly or more than one million people crisscrossed the country on airplanes despite warnings from public health officials like Dr Anthony Fauci to avoid travel and gatherings during the holidays to slow that rampant spread of COVID-19.
More than 184,000 new infections are being recorded a day on average, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
Another 1,209 COVID-19 deaths were reported on Sunday, and the total death toll had reached well over 333,000 by Monday morning.
One in every 1,000 Americans has died of the virus in just 11 months since the first cse was identified in Washington state.
With well over 19 million total coronavirus cases recorded in the U.S., one in every 17 Americans have been infected.
While new daily cases and deaths are down from the mid-December peaks, hospitals across much of the country are running out of room to care for severely ill COVID-19 patients.
More than 100,000 people have now been hospitalized for coronavirus in the U.S. for 26 days in a row – nearly every day this month.
California has once again emerged as a top hotspot in the country. Nearly 96 out of every 100,000 people diagnosed a day and there were no ICU beds left available in the Southern or Central region, as of Sunday, according to the state health department.
Federal and state officials are scrambling to rollout vaccines, but so far only two million vaccinations have been confirmed – a number U.S. testing czar Admiral Brett Giroir says is ‘probably an underestimate.’
On Sunday, TSA screened at least 1.28 million American travelers whose flight crisscrossed the country despite U.S. health officials warnings against Christmas travel. It was the greatest number of travelers seen since March 15
About a million people a day have been screened for the past six days, according to TSA data. Pictured: Masked, but tightly packed travelers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Sunday
Passengers walked through crowded terminals at Dulles International Airport on Sunday. Health officials have warned that even if the risk of transmission on a flight is low, spread could happen in tightly packed airports or other travel hubs
The ‘viral wildfire’ spread of coronavirus, as one California scientists has dubbed it, isn’t the only reason a vaccine can’t come soon enough.
A more contagious variant of the virus that was identified earlier this month in the U.K. is creeping closer to the U.S. with four cases identified in British Columbia, according to CBC News.
If the new variant is imported to the U.S., it could help fuel even more rapid spread of the deadly disease among Americans.
In an effort shore up defenses against the new strain, U.S. officials are now requiring anyone traveling from the U.K. to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the country.
Dr Anthony Fauci endorsed the preemptive move, and said the U.S. views the strain as a potential threat ‘to follow very closely’ he told the Associated Press.
‘We’re looking at it very intensely now.’
More than 100,000 Americans have been in U.S. hospitals for COVID-19 for the past 26 days in a row (blue), as daily average daily infections (red) remain about 170,000 and average daily fatalities (gray) exceed 2,000
California has again become a top hotspot for COVID-19 with more than 260,000 new cases reported in the past week – including more than 50,000 on Sunday – while Tennessee is seeing the highest infection rate per capita at nearly 120 per 100,000 residents
So far, Dr Fauci and other scientists from around the globe don’t believe the new variant is any more deadly or able to evade vaccines.
Still, a form of coronavirus that spreads more quickly must be ‘taken very seriously,’ Dr Fauci warned.
With or without the new strain making its way into the U.S., the accelerating spread of coronavirus is threatening to overrun hospitals and is already sending parts of the country into the grimly familiar territory of business closures, flooded funeral homes and medical care rationing.
A repetition of the last holiday’s horrors seems to loom imminently.
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suddenly begged Americans not to travel or gather in person, urging virtual visits or, if people did join for feasts, that they do so outdoors or with masks if they had to be inside.
Thanksgiving travel was down about 40 percent compared to 2019, but more than a million people travelled each of three days leading up to the holiday.
The aftermath was undeniable. Two week after Thanksgiving, average daily infections had surged past 210,000 in the U.S., figures never before seen in the American pandemic.
By the time Christmas week rolled around, things were no better, with daily cases averaging well about 210,000 and daily deaths exceeding 2,000.
More than 20,000 people were being treated for COVID-19 in California hospitals as of Sunday, and both the Southern and San Joaquin Valley regions were had 0% ICU capacity
Tennessee’s hospitals are yet to be overwhelmed, but it is seeing more new cases a day per capita than any other state with nearly 120 new infections per 100,000 residents a day
This time, health officials had kept up their same warnings since Thanksgiving, warning not only against travel, but even against gathering with any non-household members.
But the Christmas season only brought more travel, smashing Thanksgiving records, when the U.S. saw more air, bus, car and train travel than it had since March.
On Christmas Day, more than 616,000 Americans were screened by TSA.
On Sunday, at least 1,284,599 people were screened – far and away the greatest numbers since March 15.
It’s about half as many as flew on the same day last year, but a worrying sign that public health guidance is being ignored.
Several recent studies suggest the risk of infection in-flight is exceedingly low – less than a fraction of a percent.
But that doesn’t mean that travel isn’t a ripe opportunity for coronavirus to spread.
In the last seven days, an average of 56.7 out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. have been newly diagnosed with COVID-19 a day.
If the same proportion of yesterday’s travelers had been unknowingly infected in the past week, then 29,000 covid-positive people stood in crowded security lines, boarded airplanes, ate airport food and waited for baggage after their flights.
Of course, that’s likely an overestimate, considering that about 60 percent of people with coronavirus develop symptoms, reducing the likelihood they would feel well enough to travel or would knowingly take the risk of spreading the virus if they had symptoms that suggested they had it.
On the other hand, with infection rates that high in the U.S., it’s unlikely that no one with the virus traveled and came within six feet of other passengers.
For example, California’s health department estimates that about one in every 95 people in Los Angeles were contagious with coronavirus ass of Saturday.
New daily cases are down slightly in Arizona, but remain high per capita at 88 per 100,000. More than 1,2000 new cases were reported yesterday, as well as three confirmed deaths
Oklahoma has the fourth highest infection rate for the past week, with more about 83 new cases per capita per day
Both Southern California – the most densely populated region of the state – and the San Joaquin Valley had zero percent of ICU capacity available as of Sunday, according to the state health department.
San Joaquin and Southern California could have their stay-at-home orders lifted Monday if they’ve gained hospital capacity, but Sacramento residents will be required to stay home until at least New Year’s Day, and Bay area residents will be under the same restriction until at least January 8.
More than 50,000 new cases were confirmed in California on Saturday (although this in part reflects a reporting delay from Los Angeles) and another 237 deaths were recorded (Sunday’s data had not yet been posted at the time of publication).
A record 20,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in the state yesterday, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.
While California is reporting the grimmest total cases, hospitalizations and deaths a day of any state, Tennessee is being hit hardest compared to its much smaller population.
According to the CDC, nearly 120 people per capita had been diagnosed there per day in the past week.
More than 3,000 residents are hospitalized and nearly 70 people died in the state yesterday.
Daily case rates are also worrying in Arizona and Oklahoma, with 88 and 83 per 100,0000 residents, respectively, testing positive each day on average.