MORE than one million Americans were screened through airports in a single day as CDC advice to stay home during the Thanksgiving holiday season was ignored.
Dr Anthony Fauci today urged vacationers to "consider the risks" before traveling as over 12million Covid-19 cases have been recorded nationwide since the start of the pandemic, with more than 250,000 deaths.
Pictures show Americans crowding airports and boarding planes, despite the relatively lenient cancelation policies that major airlines have implemented since the start of the pandemic.
"Consumers should feel comfortable changing their plans and canceling their flights if they need to for health reasons,” said John Breyault of the National Consumers League.
Friday was only the second time since mid-March that daily airport screenings topped one million.
More than two million people have traveled in the past two days, according to data from the Transport Security Administration.
Vacationers have been pictured not social distancing at the check-in desks at Fort Lauderdale Airport, Florida, while a video from Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix, Arizona showed groups congregating as they waited to board planes.
Photos from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois showed lines as people traveled with less than a week to go until Thanksgiving.
Dr Anthony Fauci urged Americans to weigh the risks and "make their own decision" before getting together for the holidays amid rising coronavirus cases.
"I think the people in this country need to realistically do a risk-benefit assessment,” he told NBC.
The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that families need to consider who would be at the table for the holiday meal.
“Every family is different. Everyone has a different level of risk that they want to tolerate,” Dr Fauci said.
He asked Americans to consider the travel logistics involved and how that might expose someone to the virus.
"Do you really want to get a crowd of 10, 15, 20 people, many of whom are coming in from places where they have gone from crowded airports, to planes, getting into the house?," he questioned.
In the past 24 hours, the US has recorded 177,552 new cases of Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins university.
This was down from the record high figure of 195,542 new cases reported on November 20.
Amid an alarming rise in numbers over recent weeks, the CDC and other government officials have urged all Americans to stay home for the holiday.
"As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with," the CDC said in a statement.
The agency added: "Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year."
New York Gov Andrew Cuomo on Thursday warned people to stay home and avoid contact with anyone outside their household.
Cuomo warned New Yorkers: "My advice on Thanksgiving – don't be a turkey. You don't want to be the turkey on Thanksgiving."
"Your safe zone, it's not a safe zone. Your safe zone is dangerous this year," he said.
"Please- love is sometimes doing what's hard. This year, if you love someone, it is smarter and better to stay away."
In a White House coronavirus task force meeting on Thursday, Dr Deborah Birx warned that asymptomatic patients who don't know they have the virus are often a point of spread among family and friends.
"It is because of this asymptomatic spread that we have asked people to wear a mask indoors and to ask people to wear a mask when among others," she said.
"But sometimes when we go indoors and we’re with friends and family, we just assume that if you look okay, you are okay.
"And now we know that over 50 percent of the individuals, particularly among those under 35, many could be infected and unknowingly spreading the virus," Dr Birx said.
The CDC advises that actions are limited to limiting the spread of the virus – even if people do decide to travel ahead of Thanksgiving this year.
In addition to wearing a mask and social distancing whenever a person is with others they do not live with, the CDC recommends frequent handwashing, and avoiding sharing items such as food, drink and utensils.
The agency reiterated: "Celebrating virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice this Thanksgiving."
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