Americans are upping their travels as the world passes the one year mark of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening over one million travelers per day in the last eight days alone.
According to TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein, Thursday marked the eighth consecutive day the agency screened over one million travelers at checkpoints, screening 1,407,223 on Thursday alone and over 1.1 million the day prior.
“The last time throughput was this high was on March 15, 2020, when 1,519,192 people passed through TSA checkpoints,” Farbstein said:
JUST IN: @TSA screened 1,407,223 people at security checkpoints yesterday, Thursday, March 18. It was the eighth consecutive day of checkpoint volume above 1M. The last time throughput was this high was on March 15, 2020, when 1,519,192 people passed through TSA checkpoints.
— Lisa Farbstein, TSA Spokesperson (@TSA_Northeast) March 19, 2021
It has been over a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic, formally making the announcement on March 11, 2020. Travel declined drastically throughout the year amid the uncertainty but ticked back up as the holidays approached. In October, the TSA hit a milestone, screening over one million people the pandemic struck months earlier.
The increase suggests Americans feel more comfortable with traveling amid the pandemic, particularly as national vaccine rollout continues. However, new rules have taken place in the past year, requiring travelers to wear masks.
President Biden took executive action on January 21, “Promoting COVID-19 [coronavirus] Safety in Domestic and International Travel,” requiring masks to be worn on certain modes of domestic travel, including on trains, intercity bus services, and at airports.
The TSA has since said it will fine individuals for not wearing masks.
“Starting on February 2, 2021, TSA will require individuals to wear a mask at TSA airport screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation systems. This requirement will remain effective until May 11, 2021,” the TSA announced.
The recommended fine for violating the security directive, per the TSA, is anywhere from $250 to $1,500, depending on if it is a first-time offender.
“Based on substantial aggravating or mitigating factors, TSA may seek a sanction amount that falls outside these ranges,” the announcement reads. “TSA has provided transportation system operators specific guidance on how to report violations so that TSA may issue penalties to those who refuse to wear a face mask.”
Notably, Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed the need for universal masking last March, stating during an appearance on 60 Minutes, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask”:
Happy anniversary to one of the worst takes ever.
One year ago today, Dr. Fauci went on 60 Minutes and said you didn’t need to wear a mask.
“Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks. … There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” pic.twitter.com/dTfjoxWFjf
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) March 8, 2021