The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recorded its highest number of weekend passengers since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, with over 3 million people traveling in the past three days. The surge comes despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance advising against Thanksgiving travel because of mounting covid-19 cases across the nation.
Sunday was the busiest travel day since the beginning of the pandemic in March, according to TSA spokesman Daniel Velez, with 1,047,934 passengers. TSA screenings surpassed a now-rare amount of 1 million screenings on both Friday and Sunday; Friday was a slightly lower travel day with 1,019,836 travelers screened. On Saturday, TSA saw 984,369 travelers.
The new peak comes as U.S. coronavirus cases have also hit a new high, and just in time for Thanksgiving week – which typically brings the busiest travel day of the year on Wednesday. In the past week, daily new coronavirus cases in the United States surged by nearly 14%, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a firm stance last week: “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.”
Before this past weekend, passenger levels at U.S. airports had surpassed 1 million passengers once in October.
“TSA has been diligent in our efforts to ensure checkpoints are clean, safe and healthy for frontline workers and airline passengers, implementing new protocols and deploying state-of-the-art technologies that improve security and reduce physical contact,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a news release at that time.
Now, with U.S. infection levels higher than they were in the early days of the pandemic, many states are implementing stay-at-home orders or tightening their entry restrictions ahead of the holiday travel season to require quarantines or coronavirus testing.
Stocks open higher on Wall Street on latest vaccine hopes
Stocks are off to a good start on Wall Street Monday after AstraZeneca said that late-stage trials showed that its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective. The S&P 500 rose 0.9% in the early going Monday following a loss last week. Companies that would benefit the most from a reopening of the economy were among the early winners, including energy producers. Treasury yields rose in another sign of optimism. AstraZeneca became the third major drugmaker to report promising results for a potential vaccine. Unlike rival candidates, however, AstraZeneca’s doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute.
World stocks and Wall Street futures rose Monday after more good news on potential vaccines but unease about anti-coronavirus restrictions on businesses.
AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective. The U.K.-Swedish company is the third major drug maker to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
That helped ease some investor concerns about decisions to reimpose anti-virus controls in the United States, Europe and some Asian countries that threaten to hamper retail spending, travel and other business activity.
AstraZeneca: COVID-19 vaccine ‘highly effective’ prevention
LONDON — AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is easier to distribute than some of its rivals.
The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.
“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” Oxford University Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said in a statement. “Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective.’’
AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for its potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world anxiously waits for vaccines that will end the pandemic that has killed almost 1.4 million people. Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective.
Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries. All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.
“The Oxford vaccine can be stored in the fridge, as opposed to the freezer like the other two vaccines, which means it is a more practical solution for use worldwide,” said Peter Horby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Oxford.
The results come as a second wave of COVID-19 hits many countries, once again shutting businesses, restricting social interaction and pummeling the world economy.
AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.
Read the full story here.
Washington state sees record hospitalizations
SEATTLE — Health officials in Washington state said the number of people who were hospitalized to receive treatment for the coronavirus has reached a record high.
KOMO-TV reports there were 762 people receiving hospital care for the virus in Washington as of Saturday.
At the Swedish First Hill campus of Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center, 10 coronavirus patients were admitted within a span of five hours Wednesday.
Leaders from hospitals statewide met last week to consider strategies to ensure they have room to care for COVID-19 patients as the hospitalization rate climbs.
Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer says the cancellations of elective procedures under consideration to make room for coronavirus patients include joint and heart valve replacements and some cancer surgeries.
Oregon virus cases reach another record high
PORTLAND, Ore. — New confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 have reached a record high for the third straight day in Oregon.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 1,517 new infections Sunday, bringing the state total to 65,170.
The state reported one additional death from COVID-19 on Sunday, a 65-year-old man in Multnomah County who tested positive Nov. 15 and died the same day. That brings the state’s death toll to 820.
The director of the state health department urged residents to cancel indoor Thanksgiving plans and those that involve large groups of family and friends.
Los Angeles closes in-person dining for three weeks
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County officials have announced new coronavirus-related restrictions that will prohibit in-person dining for at least three weeks as cases rise throughout the holiday season.
The new rules will take effect Wednesday at 10 p.m.
Restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer take-out, drive-through and delivery services.
Officials had warned that these restrictions could come into play if the county’s five-day average of new cases was above 4,000. Sunday’s five-day average was 4,097 cases.
Most of California, including Los Angeles County, has been under a curfew since Saturday night at 10 p.m.
Holiday air travel kicks in despite warnings
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Millions of Americans bought tickets to fly somewhere for Thanksgiving before the nation’s top public health agency pleaded with them not to travel for the holiday.
So what are they doing now? In many cases, they’re still crowding airports and boarding planes. That’s despite relatively lenient cancellation policies that major airlines have implemented since the coronavirus pandemic emerged earlier this year.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, more than 2 million people were screened at U.S. airports on Friday and Saturday. While that’s far lower than during the same time last year, Friday was only the second time since mid-March that daily airport screenings topped 1 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said Americans should skip Thanksgiving travel and not spend the holiday with people from outside their household.
Hundreds of bodies storied in freezer trucks in NYC
NEW YORK — Hundreds of bodies are still stored in freezer trucks at a disaster morgue set up during New York City’s coronavirus surge in the spring, according to the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner.
Many of the 650 bodies at the disaster morgue on the Brooklyn waterfront are of people whose families can’t be located or can’t afford a proper burial, officials told The Wall Street Journal.
Normally, the deceased would have been buried within a few weeks in a gravesite for the indigent on Hart Island in the Long Island Sound. But as COVID-19 deaths surged in New York in April, with as many as 800 deaths in one day, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged that mass burials in temporary graves wouldn’t take place.
The medical examiner’s office is having trouble finding relatives of about 230 deceased people, officials said. When next of kin have been contacted, many bodies haven’t been collected because families haven’t arranged burial for financial reasons, nor have they requested free burial on Hart Island.
The city is slowly reducing the number of bodies in storage, with the number declining from 698 to 650 since mid-September, according to Dina Maniotis, the chief medical examiner’s office’s executive deputy commissioner. New York state has reported at least 34,187 deaths of people due to COVID-19, according to data from John Hopkins University.
Dr. Fauci worried airport crowds could lead to COVID surge
WASHINGTON — The United States’ top infectious diseases expert says he’s worried that crowding at U.S. airports from Thanksgiving travel could lead to a perilous situation as COVID-19 cases surge.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the “people at airports” despite federal guidance to avoid travel “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.”
He noted that new COVID-19 cases from Thanksgiving won’t become evident till weeks later, making it “very difficult” as the virus spirals out of control heading into colder weather and the December holiday season.
Fauci said a substantial portion of people being hospitalized for the virus are now between the ages of 40 and 59, as well as the elderly and vulnerable.
He stressed that vaccines should become available in the coming months, but said Americans will need to “hang in there” in the meantime by taking precautions to stem the spread. That includes limiting holiday gatherings to people in the same household if possible, wearing masks, socially distancing and washing hands.