Sunday was marked one of the busiest travel days of the year as people head home after Thanksgiving.
According to the American Automotive Association, over 53.4 million people were expected to air travel for the Thanksgiving Holiday. As of Nov.28, the U.S Transportation Security Administration screened over 2.4 million travelers through checkpoints nationwide.
The U.S Transportation Security Administration said nearly 2.9 million people were screened at checkpoints nationwide in 2019. Travel volume was not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels, but was anticipated to be noticeably higher beginning Nov.19 during the Thanksgiving rush period of 10 days.
According to TSA, checkpoints nationwide screened nearly 20.9 million travelers in that 10 day period. Last year, a total of 9.5 million were recorded and in 2019, a record 23.5 million people were screened.
The availability of COVID-19 vaccines allowed for many travelers to make non-essential trips and reunite with family and friends during the holiday.
“Going into the holiday traffic, we are expecting more passengers to be traveling. Especially because of the availability of vaccinations, people feel more comfortable traveling and taking those trips that they once postponed. We do anticipate more people traveling during this Thanksgiving holiday,” Spokesperson for the San Diego International Airport, Sabrina LoPiccolo said.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced their concern of a new COVID-19 Omicron variant. The U.S issued a travel ban beginning Nov.28, not including U.S Citizens, of visitors from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and other neighboring countries. The first Omicron case was first reported in South Africa on Nov.11, according to a technical brief released by the World Health Organization. Infection rates have increased steeply in South Africa which coincided with the detection of Omicron.
The CDC and the State department issued do-not-travel alerts for the eight African countries covered by the ban. California is closely monitoring the new variant that hasn't arrived in California or in the United States, according to a statement released by the California Department of Public Health.
"There could be future surges of COVID-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on a number of factors including where surges may take place," WHO said in a technical brief. "The overall global risk related to the (omicron variant) is assessed as very high."