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December 21, 2020 2:30 PM, EST

US Airlines Carry 1 Million Passengers for Third Straight Day

Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport on Nov. 25. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press) Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport on Nov. 25. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

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Americans are putting aside health risks and flying in increasing numbers during the Christmas holiday season.

Dec. 20 was the third day in a row in which more than 1 million people passed through U.S. airport screening, the first time that has occurred since the virus erupted in mid-March, according to Transportation Security Administration data.

Airline travel during the COVID-19 pandemic remains well below 2019 levels, however. Even with the recent surge, the number of people flying Dec. 18-20 was only 42% of the equivalent three days last year.

Air travel is approaching the level seen around Thanksgiving.

A total of 1,064,619 people passed through airport security on Dec. 20, which was slightly below the totals for Dec. 18- 19.

The increase is similar to numbers around Thanksgiving, when the 1 million mark was exceeded four times and several other days came close. That period was blamed for at least part of the recent increase in coronavirus infections, and the current uptick comes in spite of government warnings to limit travel.

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