Story at a glance
- A third wave of the pandemic began this winter and continues even as COVID-19 vaccinations are distributed.
- Public health officials are asking Americans to stay home and continue following preventative measures.
- Still, record numbers of travelers over the holidays could worsen the spread of the coronavirus.
Just days after record numbers of Americans died of coronavirus, millions of travelers crossed through airport security, the Transportation Security Administration reported, against the recommendations of public health officials.
"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, New Year's, surge, and, as I have described it, as a surge upon a surge, because, if you look at the slope, the incline of cases that we have experienced as we have gone into the late fall and soon-to-be-early winter, it is really quite troubling," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN ahead of the holidays.
With more than 1.3 million travelers recorded, Jan. 3 marked the busiest day for airports since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a little more than the previous day’s record of almost 1.2 million travelers and beating out Christmas and Thanksgiving travel numbers. At the same time, Johns Hopkins University reported that the U.S. has recorded more than 20 million coronavirus cases, and climbing.
With concerns over a surge and questions remaining over the rollout of vaccines, public health officials are warning Americans to stay put and stay safe.
“What we do now matters. If you gathered over the holidays outside of your household without a mask, there are still measures you can take right now," Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CNN. "You still can self-quarantine. You can still get tested knowing that greater than 50% of the spread now among people who are asymptomatic. You can still wear a mask and wash your hands and watch your distance. If we do that we will be able to temper this surge.”
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