Millions of Americans are continuing their travel plans before Thanksgiving weekend, despite urgent warnings from the CDC to stay home, as the number of daily cases and hospital stays in the country continues to hit record highs.
Confirmed cases in the US for the disease exceeded 12 million on Saturday as more than 193,000 new infections were registered in the US on Friday. This broke the previous record for the largest one-day increase on Thursday – and now over 82,000 patients are being hospitalized across the country.
Daily deaths also rose to 2,015, the highest number of deaths per day since May during the virus’ first peak, according to health data from Johns Hopkins University.
The alarming wave shows the nation is facing a second wave of the coronavirus this winter, which could be more dangerous and widespread than the first outbreak earlier this year.
“If you look at what’s happening now, the rate of increase is dramatically different,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, told CNN. ‘It’s faster. It’s wider. And what worries me, it could take longer. ‘
It has also raised fears among health professionals that Thanksgiving trips and holiday gatherings for the next week will only fuel the spread of the virus and extend the duration of the pandemic.
PHOENIX: In Arizona, travelers were seen crowding the gates of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor on Friday, where one person described the scene as “about as crowded as it was before the COVID hit”.
PHOENIX: Passenger Ed Westerfield shared footage of travelers at the terminal as he boarded a flight to Puerto Vallarta
PHOENIX: Some passengers said they didn’t even know the recommendations from the CDC, while others said they wanted to travel anyway
Fear of a Thanksgiving holiday has led many states and cities to impose bans or other restrictions before the holiday – usually the busiest travel day of the year in the US
With the holidays ahead, Dr. Birx, Americans should help contain the spread of infection by keeping their Thanksgiving gatherings to immediate family members rather than a maximum number of people.
The CDC also recommended not traveling during the holidays on Thursday and advised against meeting with someone who has not lived in the same household for at least 14 days, the incubation period for the virus.
Despite warnings from experts, millions of Americans are continuing their travel plans. Photos show large crowds at airports across the country ahead of the holiday weekend.
Long lines of passengers were seen on Friday meandering around terminals at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, with few social distancing practices observed.
In Arizona, travelers have been seen crowding the gates of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor, where the scene has been described as “about as crowded as it was before the COVID hit”.
“It’s just packed,” said passenger Ed Westerfield, who shared footage of travelers boarding a flight to Puerto Vallarta.
Some passengers told KTVK they didn’t even know about the CDC’s travel advice, while others said they wanted to travel anyway.
Curt Vurpillat, who flew to Chicago, said the recommendation “didn’t bother him at all” amid the spate of cases.
“Not that I don’t think it’s real, but I have a life to live and things to do, so we’re taking the necessary steps,” he told the news channel.
Similar scenes occurred earlier this week at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, where passengers queue up at check-in desks without being within the recommended six-foot distance from others.
It comes before the annual Thanksgiving rush the day before the holiday, which is usually the busiest travel day of the year in the United States.
CHICAGO: Long lines of passengers were seen on Friday meandering around terminals at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, with few social distancing practices observed
CHICAGO: The rising number of coronavirus cases in Illinois in recent weeks led Governor J. B. Pritzker to tighten social interactions. Pictured: travelers in Chicago O’Hare on Friday
CHICAGO: People walk through a terminal while others queue at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Friday
This year, shares in airlines and hotel companies have fallen since the outbreak began as government officials advised against unnecessary travel.
According to the AAA travel agency, the number of travelers on this Thanksgiving festival is estimated to drop by at least 10 percent – the largest decrease since 2008 – to 50 million.
With the new recommendations from the CDC, that number is expected to be even lower now.
However, the travel advisory is just a “strong recommendation”, not a requirement, which means there will be millions who will travel independently.
“Hopefully they will take some sensible steps to limit the damage the virus can cause,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
The agency estimates 47.8 million Americans will still drive on vacation and another 2.4 million will fly.
NEW JERSEY: There was little social distancing among the passengers who queued at Newark Liberty International Airport on Sunday
LAX: Travelers wait to check their bags for a flight on American Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Nov. 18 during the Covid-19 pandemic
PHILADELPHIA: Travelers make their way through 30th Street Station before Thanksgiving Friday.
Open letter from health workers urging Americans to cut down holiday gatherings in light of the surge in COVID-19
An open letter to the American people:
With the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas season and a deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we urge everyone in our country – doctors, nurses, hospital and health system managers, and health professionals on the front lines of this pandemic – to celebrate responsibly in our country a reduced way that limits the spread of the virus to reduce the risk of infecting friends, family, and others you love.
During the pandemic, the spread of COVID-19 followed a similar pattern in relation to holidays and mass gatherings. Positive cases occurred after Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and now – two weeks after Halloween.
The record-breaking upswing is leading to uncontrolled spread and infection of the population, which has already overloaded the health systems in some areas and ultimately consumes the capacity of our health system and possibly reduces the availability of care in many places in our country.
We urge you to celebrate responsibly. We are all tired and connected with the desire to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. However, given the serious risks involved, we emphasize the importance of wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and washing your hands.
Following these science-based, sensible measures is the best way to keep critically ill patients from overwhelming our health systems and dedicated health professionals. We need to protect the doctors, nurses and other caregivers who have been fighting this virus tirelessly for months. You can do your part to ensure that they can continue to take care of you and your loved ones.
We will make it through this pandemic, but the only way out is by following science and following the public health steps that we know work.
American Hospital Association American Medical Association American Nurses Association
In New York, around 275,300 passengers will fly from JFK, 271,700 from Newark and 127,100 from LaGuardia on Thursday between November 23rd and 29th, according to the New York Post.
Data from aviation analyst firm OAG shows that more than 42,000 New Yorkers will fly to Orlando, while another 38,400 will travel to Fort Lauderdale. 33,200 to Atlanta; 27,700 to Los Angeles and 25,000 to Miami.
On Thursday, health care workers from the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and the American Nurses Association (ANA) joined the CDC to urge the public to stay home with an open letter.
‘With Thanksgiving and the approaching Christmas season and a deadly Covid-19 pandemic, we – the doctors, nurses, hospital and health system managers, and health professionals on the front lines of this pandemic – urge everyone in our country to celebrate responsibly and on one reduced ways that limit the spread of the virus to reduce the risk of infecting friends, family and others you love, “they said.
“The record-breaking upswing is leading to uncontrolled spread and infection of the population, which has already overloaded the health systems in some areas and ultimately consumes the capacity of our health system and possibly reduces the availability of care in many places in our country.”
Fear of Thanksgiving has also led many states and cities to impose bans or other restrictions.
California ordered a curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. starting Saturday, covering 94 percent of the state’s 40 million residents.
In New Jersey, the mayor of Newark – the state’s largest city – announced this week that he would impose a 10-day stay-at-home order on residents from the day before Thanksgiving.
Republican and Democratic governors from several Midwestern states also released a joint video urging people to come home for Thanksgiving and wear masks to help slow the spread of the virus until a vaccine is widely available.
Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine and his wife Fran canceled their annual Thanksgiving Day on their farm in southwest Ohio, saying it would be too risky for Fran DeWine’s 94-year-old mother and two new grandchildren who are only a few days old .
Instead, they celebrate with the family via Zoom or FaceTime and deliver food or see family members remotely while they pick up turkey, homemade rolls, cakes and apple dumplings from Fran DeWine.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, urges people to curtail Thanksgiving meetings, saying, “We should love our loved ones enough not to want to expose them to the dangers of COVID.”
And Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who weathered local residents’ reaction of shop closings and makeup orders, said she’ll be spending Thanksgiving time with the extended family on Zoom, rather than in person, and urges others to do the same.
Still, some governors say they rely on residents to see for themselves even as cases skyrocket in their states.
Daily deaths rose to 2,015 yesterday – the highest number of deaths per day since May during the virus’ first peak
The number of new cases rose to a record high of 193,000 yesterday, and there are now more than 82,000 hospitalized nationwide
Coronavirus infections are ravaging the state in South Dakota, where more than half of the tests have been positive for weeks.
However, Governor Kristi Noem will not need masks or take other measures to contain the spread, including urging families to cut back on Thanksgiving gatherings.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said he will be attending a college football game over the weekend and spending the vacation with his parents. He noted, “Oklahomans should be with loved ones over Thanksgiving.”
CDC is strongly advising Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving as the COVID-19 surge sets in
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly advise Americans not to travel to Thanksgiving Day or to spend vacations with people outside their homes.
Yesterday’s recommendation from the country’s top health authority is one of the government’s firmest guidance to date on curbing traditional gatherings to combat the outbreak.
For those who still choose to travel, the CDC recommends doing so “as safely as possible”. This includes wearing a mask in public, maintaining social distance, and frequent hand washing with soap and water.
According to airlines, a record number of Americans are canceling flights according to instructions from the CDC.
New data from the Transportation Security Administration shows that only 907,332 people passed checkpoints on Thursday. That’s less than 2,428,095 who did so at the same time last year – a decrease of 62 percent.
2.4 million people are still expected to fly on the busiest days, but that’s half the number seen in 2019.
To curb the spread, the CDC warns that large indoor household gatherings this holiday season could make things worse.
The CDC has advised against arranging the incubation period for the coronavirus with people who have not lived in the same household for at least 14 days.
If families choose to involve returning college students, military personnel, or anyone else for turkey and stuffing, the CDC recommends hosts take additional precautions: Meetings should be outdoors where possible, with people 6 feet apart and Wear masks and serve food to only one person.
And in Tennessee, where hospital beds are filling up and some hospitals are struggling to find enough nurses, Republican Governor Bill Lee said he had no plans to impose restrictions even though he would “encourage Tennesseans to consider partying together.”
In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has ruled out another shutdown and selected El Paso leaders for failing to enforce restrictions that already existed.
Attorney General Ken Paxton likened the district’s chief administrator to a “bully” after Paxton won an appeals court preventing local leaders from closing gyms and other non-essential businesses.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, also a Republican, failed to convince leaders of the GOP-controlled legislature to reject a bill that would curtail his administration’s powers to deal with the crisis.
It’s about a Senate bill that would prohibit the state health ministry from issuing mandatory quarantine orders against people who are not sick or ill – like the order announced by the governor on Tuesday that sets a 10 p.m. curfew.
DeWine said he will veto the bill when it reaches his desk. Republicans in both the House and Senate have enough votes to override the veto if they so choose.
“This bill is a disaster,” DeWine said Thursday. “This is not a bill that can become law.”
In California, the curfew affects 41 of the state’s 58 counties. Their effects will depend heavily on voluntary compliance. Some county sheriffs said they would not enforce the rules for people who do not run essential errands to stay home after 10 p.m.
The curfew is less stringent than the near-complete ban on unnecessary business and travel imposed by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in March, which he attributed to the flattening of COVID-19 cases.
In Arizona, four Democratic mayors called on Republican Governor Doug Ducey to make a statewide requirement that people wear masks in public.
The move came when health officials reported more than 4,000 additional COVID-19 cases for the second straight day.
Ducey’s chief of staff Daniel Scarpinato pushed the request back, saying that mayors are doing little to enforce their own mask ordinances or to ensure that existing governor’s security measures are enforced.
COVID-19 deaths in the US are at their highest level since late May, when the Northeast emerged from the first wave of crisis.
They peaked at around 2,200 a day in late April when New York City was the epicenter and the bodies were being loaded onto refrigerated trucks by forklift.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States has increased nearly 50% in the past two weeks. As of November 18, more than 80,000 people had been treated for the disease in hospitals across the country. This is evident from data from the COVID tracking project
Dr. Birx also cited a graph on Friday showing rising hospital rates across the country. It shows North Dakota and South Dakota are hardest hit by more than 20 percent of their hospital stays who are currently COVID-19 patients. In other Midwestern states, including Montana, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, between 10 and 20 percent of patients are currently being treated for the virus
Among the newly infected was President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who had no symptoms on Friday, according to a spokesman, and has been quarantined since receiving his diagnosis earlier this week.
Amid dismal new statistics, Pfizer said Friday it was calling on U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, setting in motion a process that will see the first, limited shots of healthcare workers as early as next month and health care providers could make other high-risk groups likely to receive priority.
The application to the FDA comes just days after Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE reported final test results showing that the vaccine is 95 percent effective against COVID-19 without major safety concerns.
However, it can take months for the vaccine to become generally available.
Officials have announced that they hope to have around 20 million Pfizer vaccine doses by the end of the year, which is enough to vaccinate 10 million Americans.
Competing company Moderna is expected to be the next company to seek an emergency for its COVID-19 vaccine. The US also estimates that 20 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine will be available for distribution by the next month.