US hits 12 million COVID-19 cases as many Americans defy Thanksgiving travel advice

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(Reuters) – The United States recorded its 12th million cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, even as millions of Americans were scheduled to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, ignoring warnings from health officials over continued the spread of infectious disease.

More than 12,010,000 coronavirus cases have been reported, according to a Reuters tally of public health data, capping a string of days with record infections, with the Midwest experiencing one of the most dramatic increases in per capita cases.

The COVID-19 outbreak has claimed more than 255,000 lives in the United States – more than any other country – according to Reuters tally – and the recent escalation has prompted more than 20 states to impose sweeping new restrictions this month- ci to stop the virus. .

Reuters data shows the pace of new infections in the United States has accelerated, with nearly one million more cases recorded in the past 6 days before the latest record high. This compares to the 8 days it takes to go from 10 million cases to 11 million, and the 10 days it takes to go from 9 million to 10 million.

More than a million people passed through U.S. airports on Friday, according to Transportation Security Administration data, fueling fears of an even further spread of the virus. It was the second heaviest day of domestic air traffic since the start of the pandemic, despite calls from health officials to keep Americans at home.

“This is the second time the pandemic passenger volume has exceeded one million,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Friday marked another milestone in the United States with the highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported – 196,815 infections per day.

Health officials have warned that the growing wave of infections could soon overwhelm the health system if people do not follow public health guidelines, especially not to travel and mingle with other households for the traditional Thursday Thanksgiving feast.

Yet video footage on Twitter showed more than a hundred people, wearing masks, cluttering the departure gates at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Ariz. On Friday. The lines for TSA checkpoints and kiosks at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on Friday were also long and “reminiscent of pre-pandemic times,” local television station WGN reported.

Thanksgiving air travelers are expected to drop 47.5% from 2019, but nonetheless, 2.4 million people are expected to take off, according to a report released earlier this month by the American Automobile Association. He said the number of car travelers is only expected to decline by around 4%.

“For those who are planning to take a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the ability to change vacation travel plans up to the day of departure,” said Paula Twidale, AAA Senior Vice President , in a press release.

The US Centers for Disease Control has issued a “strong recommendation” that Americans refrain from all types of travel during Thanksgiving.

“We are alarmed by the exponential increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” CDC chief Henry Walke told reporters on Thursday.

Seven governors in the Midwestern states – Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan – have encouraged their residents to heed medical advice during the holidays and not to celebrate Thanksgiving with people outside their homes.

In a video message, the governors also referred to Pfizer Inc’s recent announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine is over 90% effective. Pfizer has said it will seek authorization for the emergency use of its vaccine from U.S. regulators, the first such application.

“This is great news, but it doesn’t mean we can let our guard down,” Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter in Fairfield, Connecticut; Additional reports from Anurag Maan in Bengaluru and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Edited by Daniel Wallis and Dan Grebler

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