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LAX Seeing A Steady Stream Of Travelers Despite COVID-19 Risks

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Thousands of Angelenos appear to be willing to get on a plane over the Christmas holiday despite warnings from public health officials that the spike in coronavirus cases puts them at risk of contracting the disease.

So far in December, Los Angeles International Airport has seen about 26% of the daily passenger traffic it saw during the same period in 2019, LAX spokesperson Charles Pannunzio told CBSLA Tuesday.

That number is starting to tick up as Christmas Day nears, however, which mirrors what happened over Thanksgiving. One day this past weekend saw over 40,000 peole pass through security at LAX, Pannunzio said.

Nationwide, TSA reported Monday that it screened 954,782 people Monday, a 26.8% increase over Monday, Dec. 14.

Passengers check-in for a United Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Los Angeles, California, November 25, 2020. - US health authorities cautioned Americans on traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, as the coronavirus spreads out of control. The recommendation was issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government's health protection agency. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

"We're saying don't travel unless you have to, but we do realize people do have needs to get out and travel," Pannunzio said. "And in those cases we've done a lot of things to try and make the journey safer. There's Plexiglass barriers to help the employees, there's floor markings, of course we're requiring masks."

Wednesday, two days before Christmas, is expected to be one the busiest travel day of the holiday season, along with Sunday, Dec. 27 and Sunday, Jan. 3.

On the night of Dec. 14, a man died after suffering a medical episode aboard a flight bound from Orlando to LAX, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in New Orleans.

The passenger, a 69-year-old L.A. resident, died from acute respiratory failure and COVID-19, according to an autopsy obtained Monday by USA Today.

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