About 1 million Americans a day packed airports and planes over the weekend even as coronavirus deaths surged across the U.S. and public health experts begged people to stay home and avoid big Thanksgiving gatherings.
And the crowds are only expected to grow. Next Sunday is likely to be the busiest day of the holiday period.
To be sure, the number of people flying for Thanksgiving is down by more than half from last year because of the rapidly worsening outbreak. However, the 3 million who went through U.S. airport checkpoints from Friday through Sunday marked the biggest crowds since mid-March, when the COVID-19 crisis took hold in the United States.
Many travelers are unwilling to miss out on seeing family and are convinced they can do it safely. Also, many colleges have ended their in-person classes, propelling students to return home.
Laurie Pearcy, director of administration for a Minneapolis law firm, is flying to New Orleans to attend her daughter’s bridal shower and have a small Thanksgiving dinner with her son.
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“I don’t want to unknowingly make anyone sick. But I also don’t want to miss this special event for my only daughter,” she said.