The United States’ rolling seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases is escalating once again, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points to recent increases in travel as one of the culprits.
In recent weeks, there has been an obvious rise in the volume of travelers taking to the skies and heading to vacation destinations during the Spring Break period. Travel + Leisure reported that, since March 11, the TSA has screened more than a million passengers per day at U.S. airports, representing a pandemic-era record of 19 days in a row. That’s more Americans heading off on Spring Break holidays than traveled for Christmas or New Year’s.
Whether it boils down to folks having hit their limit after a year of staying at home or the introduction of vaccines having sparked a false sense of safety, it’s clear that many Americans are now throwing caution to the wind as they head off on vacations.
The trend has strengthened despite the CDC’s consistent and repeated pleas that the public refrain from all non-essential travel a while longer, as accelerated vaccine rollouts attempt to overtake the virus that’s still sweeping the nation.
“We’re in the life and death race with a virus that is spreading quickly, with cases rising again,” President Joe Biden said yesterday at the White House. The steady rise in infection is widespread from coast to coast, with spikes occurring in 30 states in the past week, according to Forbes reports and Johns Hopkins University data.
The most recent seven-day national average is close to 60,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky disclosed at yesterday’s White House press briefing. That’s ten percent higher than the previous week, with hospitalizations and deaths increasing commensurately.
Dr. Walensky shared her “recurring feeling” of “impending doom” with the U.S. repeating a pattern of increased contagion that has invariably followed behaviors like travel and social mixing over holiday periods. “We know that travel is up, and I just worry that we will see the surges that we saw over the summer and over the winter again.”
“I think people have taken advantage of what they perceived as a relative paucity of cases, a relative lull in where we were, to take advantage of their time of spring break, of holiday travel,” Dr. Walensky posited. “And, what I would just say is, you know, we’ve seen surges after every single holiday…you know, July 4th, Labor Day, Christmas. And we’re seeing the uptick of that right now.”
She further explained that the current U.S. trends fall into a pattern similar to the pandemic’s trajectory in Europe only a few weeks ago. And, those countries now find themselves battling another surge after previously letting their guard down for the spring holidays.
“We are not powerless; we can change this trajectory of the pandemic. But it will take all of us, recommitting to following the public health prevention strategies consistently, while we work to get the American public vaccinated,” Dr. Walensky said. “We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.”
For more information, visit cdc.gov.