Somewhere under these thousands of planes is a map of the United States.
The United States may have more than 18 million cases of COVID-19 and a death toll of 327,000 – but that isn’t stopping many Americans from seeing friends and family this Christmas.
There are fears the Christmas travel will lead to a super spreader event, with the Transportation Security Administration screening almost 1.2 million travellers on Wednesday.
That breaks the previous pandemic travelling record set after Thanksgiving.
To put that in comparison, last year there were 2.5 million travellers on the same date.
This is despite warnings to avoid travelling this Christmas because of the virus risk.
So despite the warnings and the risk, the number of people travelling has dropped by half.
Since December 18, more than six million travellers have been screened by the FSA.
RELATED: What has really broken the US
RELATED: Live coronavirus coverage
“Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned this month.
America’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci also pleaded with people to not travel.
“Stay at home as much as you can, keep your interactions to the extent possible to members of the same household,” he told the Washington Post.
“This cannot be business as usual this Christmas because we’re already in a very difficult situation, and we’re going to make it worse, if we don’t do something about it.”
Dr Henry Walke, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said travelling at Christmas would only make the pandemic worse.
“The best thing for Americans to do in the upcoming holiday season is to stay at home and not travel,’’ he said.
“Cases are rising. Hospitalisations are increasing, Deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase.
Anyone who does travel has been urged to get tested before and after their trips.
The winter surge in cases rages across the country, where the virus has claimed more than 320,000 lives and is on course to be the third leading cause of death in the year.
America reported more than 3400 deaths from the virus yesterday, and 232,000 new infections across the country.
California was the worst impacted with 44,000 new cases, followed by Texas (20,000), Florida (11,000) and New York (12,000).
AMERICANS START TO GET VACCINE
More than a million Americans have received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccines, a milestone in the biggest immunisation drive in US history that came even as officials admitted the pace of rollout was slipping behind schedule.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said jurisdictions had logged the first million shots with his agency since the biggest immunisation drive in US history kicked off on December 14.
“While we celebrate this historic milestone, we also acknowledge the challenging path ahead,” said Mr Redfield.
“There is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the US, but supply will increase in the weeks and months to come.”
If the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines proceeds smoothly, it might be possible to achieve widespread population immunity in the United States by next summer, Dr Fauci has said.
He said he believed priority populations – such as nursing home residents, health care workers, critical workers, the elderly and people at high risk – should receive their shots by March or early April.
“We could start in April doing what I call ‘open season’ on vaccinations – namely anybody in the general population who wants to get vaccinated will get vaccinated.
“By the time we get into the middle or end of the summer, I believe we will have, if we do it correctly, we could have 70 to 85 per cent of the population vaccinated.
“When that occurs, there will be an umbrella of protection over the entire country.”
– With AFP