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Many Americans defying COVID-19 travel warnings ahead of Thanksgiving holiday


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Many Americans defying COVID-19 travel warnings ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

By Daniel Trotta and Nathan Layne

 

2020-11-23T214406Z_1_LYNXMPEGAM1IL_RTROPTP_4_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-USA.JPG

Travelers depart Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. November 23, 2020. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

 

(Reuters) - Millions of Americans appeared to be shrugging off public health warnings and traveling ahead of this week's Thanksgiving holiday, likely fueling an alarming surge in coronavirus infections before a series of promising new vaccines become widely available.

 

With U.S. COVID-19 infections hitting a record 168,000 new cases per day on average, Americans were flocking to airports against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. surgeon general and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert.

 

For Americans, the long holiday weekend, which begins on Thursday, is traditionally the busiest travel period of the year, and 2020 may prove to be no exception.

 

Some 1 million passengers passed through airport security gates on Sunday, the highest number since March. It was the second time in three days U.S. air travel screenings surpassed 1 million, though the numbers are down nearly 60% from the same time last year, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said.

 

Likewise, the American Automobile Association has forecast that 45 million to 50 million people will take to the highways over the holiday, compared with 55 million in 2019.

 

Soaring rates of coronavirus infections, deaths and hospitalizations have continued unabated.

 

The seven-day rolling average number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths climbed for a 12th straight day, reaching 1,500 as of Monday, according to a Reuters tally of official data, while coronavirus hospitalizations nationally have surged nearly 50% over the past two weeks. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)

 

To date, the highly contagious respiratory virus has killed over 255,000 Americans, with over 12 million infected since the pandemic began.

 

State and local government officials have reimposed a host of restrictions on social and economic life in recent weeks to tamp down the spread, as medical experts warn the surge is straining the resources of the nation's healthcare system.

 

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration screened over 3 million passengers this weekend ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, its busiest weekend since mid-March, as people ignored a call from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) not to travel. This report produced by Yahaira Jacquez.

 

Pleading with residents to stay home and avoid gatherings during the holiday season, Governor Andrew Cuomo reminded New Yorkers of the grim early days of the pandemic when as many as 800 people died in a single day across the state.

 

HOSPITALS AND HOPE

Hospitalizations have spiked 122% in New York state over the last three weeks, Cuomo said, prompting the re-opening of an emergency medical facility on Staten Island.

 

Health officials have urged Americans to resist temptations to let their guard down, noting help is on the way in the form of promising vaccines nearing initial U.S. distribution.

 

The head of the U.S. campaign to rapidly deploy a vaccine said the first shots could begin to be administered to healthcare workers and other high-priority recipients as early as mid-December, within a day or two of receiving regulatory consent.

 

A vaccine from Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech is expected to win authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with a second vaccine from Moderna Inc headed for FDA review before year's end.

 

Late-stage trials of both vaccines have been about 95% effective in preventing infection. The British maker of a third vaccine, AstraZeneca, announced its candidate has proved to be 90% effective without serious side effects, and 700 million doses could be ready globally by late in the first quarter of 2021.

 

FEAR AND DETERMINATION

Still, the imperatives of family and fatigue with COVID-19 restrictions have left many Americans defying health advice that could save their lives.

 

"We are not going to let COVID scare us," said Brian McDonough, 47, a construction worker and diligent mask wearer who plans to spend Thanksgiving with his sister not far from his home in Worth, Illinois. He will bring pies for dessert.

 

"We get tested, we are negative, so life goes on," he said. "Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving. Christmas is Christmas. New Year's is New Year's. If people die it's going to happen, and there's nothing we can do about it until we get a vaccine."

 

Edie Taylor, 29, a building design specialist in Oakland, California, was less sanguine as she prepared to board a flight to her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, to attend a family gathering and then stay on through New Year's.

 

"It's terrifying," said Taylor, who said she would have changed her plans in light of the worsening pandemic, but after giving up her apartment in Oakland "I didn't have anywhere to live. I just have to get on that plane."

 

To be sure, many Americans are exercising greater caution.

 

Donnalie Hope, 78, of Petersburg, West Virginia, is planning to make fresh cranberries, mash potatoes and her famous corn pudding for Thanksgiving, which she will spend with her visiting daughter and a neighbor.

 

Hope said they would try to social distance in her home, and she planned to have rubber gloves and hand sanitizer on hand. She acknowledged her guests might take off their masks in the home.

 

"I'm trying very hard to comply with the regs because I want this country to get back to where it belongs," Hope said.

 

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Nathan Layne; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert, David Shepardson and Susan Heavey in Washington, Barbara Goldberg in Maplewood, New Jersey; Writing by Daniel Trotta, Maria Caspani and Steve Gorman; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Bill Tarrant)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-11-24
 
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4 hours ago, webfact said:

"We are not going to let COVID scare us," said Brian McDonough, 47, a construction worker and diligent mask wearer who plans to spend Thanksgiving with his sister not far from his home in Worth, Illinois. He will bring pies for dessert.

Good for him.

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5 minutes ago, mrfill said:

They can also gaze at their lovely silver commemorative coin, issued recently, showing their beloved fuhrer warding off the little blighters with his magic umbrella (obviously based on real science).

Screenshot_20201102_101348.jpg

He's lost weight, must be all that shield lifting, another lie.

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2 minutes ago, thaibeachlovers said:

7 out of 9 posts attacking Trump on this page. What are you guys going to talk about when he's gone? LOL.

 

That worries me, he has been a great source of entertainment, a lousy president, a lousy human being in fact but a great clown.

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15 minutes ago, mrfill said:

They can also gaze at their lovely silver commemorative coin, issued recently, showing their beloved fuhrer warding off the little blighters with his magic umbrella (obviously based on real science).

Screenshot_20201102_101348.jpg

Are you serious about this, is there really a commemorative silver coin being minted now??

 

If so it is just another ploy in this hucksters armoury of dubious and devious schemes to make money for himself!

 

There should be a pile of coffins at the bottom of that coin to commemorate the idiot's inaction and ignorance which caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.

 

This man has no shame. Nor indeed do his followers if they buy these damn things.
 

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