Millions of Americans appear to be playing it safe for the holidays due to COVID-19 — despite signs of a Christmas travel surge earlier in the week.
Just 846,520 people passed through American airport security checkpoints on Christmas Eve, the TSA said — less than half the 2,009,112 who traveled by plane on Dec. 24, 2019.
The dramatic drop comes after public health officials urged Americans to stay home for the holidays amid rising coronavirus cases.
In spite of that guidance, the Christmas travel season has been the busiest period for airports since the outset of the pandemic.
TSA agents screened 1.2 million people on Wednesday, the most since March 16. This past weekend marked the first three-day stretch with at least one million air travelers per day in just as long.
The return to the skies marks a dramatic turnaround from the early days of the US’s COVID-19 outbreak, when TSA agents screened as few as 90,000 people on some days.
Air travel numbers have crept up sine late April, as Americans have grown increasingly confident about traveling amid the deadly pandemic.
A Department of Defense study conducted in partnership with United Airlines released in October found there was only a 0.0003 percent chance that viral particulars could infiltrates a neighbor’s breathing space — as long as both fliers wear masks.
The actual experience of flying can be more risky, according to experts.
“I think the risk is not the flight experience… versus being in the airport, touching things, being exposed to people’s lack of hygiene and respiratory etiquette,” Hofstra University public health professor Dr. Anthony Santella told The Post in November.
“The airport experience on both sides, going there and back, actually poses more dangers to people.”
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