The day before Christmas eve saw the largest number of travelers passed by the airports since March.
A total of over 1.19 million travelers passed through checkpoints at airports across the country on Wednesday, according to the Transportation and Security Administration. This is the largest number of travelers since March, topping 1.17 million travelers who passed through airports on the weekend after Thanksgiving, according to data from the TSA.
Coupled with the consequences of pandemic fatigue and more people congregating indoors due to cold weather, the amount of travel and gathering over Thanksgiving proved deadly: As Business Insider's Morgan McFall-Johnsen reported earlier this month, over 47,000 people have died from coronavirus since Thanksgiving.
Ahead of the Christmas holiday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, told The Washington Post that he advises the public to "stay at home as much as you can, keep your interactions to the extent possible to members of the same household" and noted that the holidays "cannot be business as usual" this time.
Nurses on the frontlines told Business Insider's Allana Akhtar that they expect a surge in cases following the winter holidays, similar to what they witnessed after Thanksgiving.
"We're just kind of expecting the numbers to only get worse, unfortunately," said Sarah Curran, a nurse in the ICU in Michigan.
These alarmingly high numbers of travel come amid grim milestones related to the coronavirus. As of Saturday, the US surpassed 18.7 million cases of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US has seen a 7.6% increase in the number of cases over the past week, according to the COVID Tracking project, and due to the overwhelming number of cases, some areas like regions in California are setting up tents outside to make room for patients.