Transportation

TSA screens 2 million travelers heading into Memorial Day weekend

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened nearly 2 million travelers Friday heading into the Memorial Day weekend, a sign that more Americans are beginning to travel as coronavirus vaccines become more widespread.

TSA spokeswoman Alexa Lopez confirmed that 1.96 million passengers, airport workers and aircrew were screened Friday and that the agency was "creeping up to 2 million."

The figure marks the highest number of passengers screened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The influx of passengers comes as travel starts to rebound after more than a year of decline during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 1.5 million people traveled through U.S. airports in March - the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that air travel had reached that level. 

Travel is expected to continue to rise as vaccines become more widespread in the U.S.

"We're very excited about the reemergence of travel, the chance for Americans to reunite with family and friends whom they haven't seen for some time. ... There's going to be a tremendous amount of people traveling this weekend," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday on "Good Morning America." "Patience is required."

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated Friday showed that more than half of the total U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC said earlier this month that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are not required to wear masks in most settings, both indoors and outdoors. 

However, the TSA has announced that the federal mask mandate for all transportation networks, including on airplanes, in airports, on buses and on rail systems, would be extended through September.

Updated 1:10 p.m.

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