is underway in the United States, and things are decidedly different for travelers than they were a year ago. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all adults in the United States have been . A federal mandate requires travelers in airplanes or , though most airlines then ask passengers to wear them. And many more people are likely to leave town for a holiday this than in 2020. Darby LaJoye, the acting administrator at the Transportation Security Administration, said that the number of travelers at U.S. airports had increased steadily during the spring, reaching nearly 1.9 million last Sunday, almost eight times the figure for May 17, the comparable Sunday in 2020.
The agency predicts that airports will probably see two million passengers daily. That number will likely be exceeded over the holiday weekend, the latest crest in the recent waves of. il LaJoye said the increasing number of passengers could lead to longer at security checkpoints. The automobile owners group predicted earlier this month that, all told, more than 37 million people would travel 50 miles or more from Thursday to Monday — a 60 percent increase from , though still 9 percent below 2019. A great majority will travel by car. “We will continue to see a steady increase as we approach the season,” Mr. LaJoye said. “As vaccinations and confidence continues to build, the nation’s planes, trains, buses, and roads will be heavily traveled.”
To help control the, the T.S.A. has erected acrylic barriers, installed new machines allowing some passengers to scan their documents, and adjusted the rules to allow passengers to have up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in their carry-on bags. A year ago in the United States, there was no authorized , mask requirements were left up to local officials, and individual carriers and air traffic were sparse. Now, people 12 or older can get vaccinated, and those who choose to travel have a sense of their safety that even the boldest voyagers did not. (Traveling and many other activities can be complicated for and their families).
“Thanks to vaccines, tens of millions of Americans can get back to something closer to normal, visiting friends and family,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the C.D.C., said thisat a news conference. when parts of the world, like the United States and the European Union, are progressively reopening their borders and allowing tourism to restart. But the virus continues to ravage other areas, notably India, South America, and Southeast Asia, where variants have been detected. However, testing was far scarcer than the pandemic initially hit. As it happens, the average reported in the U.S. is about the same now as around last year, about 23,000 a day. In each case, the figure had declined from a peak in mid-April.
Last year, reports of revelers ignoringover the holiday weekend were legion. Within weeks of some states reopening, to record levels. Jumps in virus cases have been seen after other holiday weekends, Dr. Walensky noted this . Now that many have been vaccinated, any virus outbreaks in the United States after the holiday will probably look different, according to Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at Columbia University. She said she was concerned about “micro-epidemics” in vulnerable areas. “We could potentially see these surges focused in specific communities, where there are and masking rates,” Dr. El-Sadr said.