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Millions of Americans traveling for Thanksgiving despite coronavirus warnings

Millions traveling for Thanksgiving despite warnings
Millions stick to Thanksgiving travel plans despite urgent COVID-19 warnings 03:59

With millions of people already on the road or in the air traveling for Thanksgiving, experts say it's guaranteed that the number of coronavirus cases will soon explode even more than it has already. 

More than three million Americans have been infected with the virus since the beginning of the month, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. The country is seeing record numbers of hospitalizations and averaging 1,500 deaths every day — the most in six months.

As COVID-19 cases soar, millions are sticking to their Thanksgiving travel plans despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging them to stay home. Karyn Bryan was met by long lines in Los Angeles.

"There's a lot more people here than I thought would be here," Bryan said.

More than three million have been screened at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints since Friday. Sunday was the busiest day at airport checkpoints since March 16, and AAA expects up to 50 million Americans to travel.

"I'm very concerned about the number of people who are traveling. This is a recipe for disaster," CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook said.

California — coronavirus
Licensed vocational nurse Caren Williams, left, collects a nasal swab sample from a traveler at a COVID-19 testing site at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, on Monday, November 23, 2020. Jae C. Hong / AP

Lines at testing centers continue to get longer across the country, including in Colorado.

"I'm getting tested just so I can spend Thanksgiving with my mom," one woman said.

"The biggest misconception I've heard this entire pandemic is that if I get tested today and I'm negative, I can see Grandma tomorrow. Absolutely not," LaPook said. "There's a two- to 14-day incubation period, so if I get infected today I may not become infectious — able to infect somebody else — for two to 14 days."

This comes as COVID-19 fatigue is reaching a dangerous level. People were seen packing into a bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and crowding into a church event in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In many states the pandemic is growing even more dire. Pennsylvania could run out of intensive care unit beds within a week. In Wisconsin, more than 3,000 health care workers signed a letter warning they're on the brink of deciding who gets treated and who doesn't.

Just days from Thanksgiving, the economic fallout of the coronavirus is spelled out in long lines of cars at food banks as so many struggle to put a meal on the table this holiday.

"This is the worst hunger crisis in modern American times," Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg said. "Unless the federal government does something big and quick, we're gonna see starvation conditions like this country hasn't seen since the Great Depression."

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