The “third wave” of coronavirus infections has arrived in America. Reported cases in a single day hit a record high of over 150,000 on November 13, and nationwide, we’re seeing a record number of hospitalizations, surpassing that of April.
Travel surveys suggest that with the upcoming holidays, a number of Americans are still planning to fly or drive to a destination, either to visit family or for vacation, despite the risks involved. Plus, some college campuses are wrapping up their in-person semesters by Thanksgiving, requiring many students to return home until the spring term.
The uptick in car and plane trips during previous holiday weekends this year, such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day, is a hint of what’s to come in November and December — two months in which millions of Americans traditionally congregate with their loved ones. For last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, airlines flew a record 31.6 million passengers, while it was estimated that nearly 50 million people drove to see family and friends.
The pandemic will certainly reduce the number of active travelers, but without clear directives from the government, people are still allowed to travel for leisure even as coronavirus cases surge nationwide. What’s especially concerning is that there’s no single hot spot or epicenter, and the rate of hospitalizations has been climbing steadily. Some states like New York and Connecticut are requiring out-of-state travelers to undergo a brief self-quarantine period upon arrival, but at this point, most public health decisions are being made at an individual or family level.
The pandemic has broken most people’s understanding of what to fear, argued Amanda Mull in the Atlantic. “When everyone is left to write their own version of Choose Your Own Pandemic Adventure, no one is safe.” Mull continued, writing: “Americans have no common conception of the pandemic, which means you can’t assume that someone you’ve trusted for years isn’t about to expose you to a deadly disease, or even that you live in the same plane of reality.”