U.S. Covid cases near pandemic low as travel picks up for Memorial Day weekend

Health, Fitness & Food

A crowd of travelers check in for their flights at LAX on Friday, May 28, 2021.
Allen J. Schaben | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

The U.S. has reported the lowest number of Covid-19 cases in more than a year, as the nation’s airports over Memorial Day weekend experienced the largest number of travelers since the pandemic began.

The 11,976 new cases reported on May 29 were the lowest since March 23, 2020, when 11,238 new cases were reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day average of 21,007 is the lowest since March 31 of last year, when it was 19,363.

Friday also saw the TSA report the highest number of travelers since the pandemic began, with more than 1.9 million people taking to the skies for the long weekend. At the same point last year, the TSA counted just 327,000 passengers at its checkpoints.

The World Health Organization officially declared Covid-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. The U.S. reported 1,147 Covid cases that day. The pandemic would go on to infect more than 33 million people in the U.S. and kill nearly 600,000 people.

Within a week of the WHO declaration, daily TSA travel numbers dropped from 1.7 million to 620,000. By March 25, the number was at 203,000. Since March 11, 2021, the daily number of fliers has remained above 1 million.

More than 60% of U.S. adults have at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, while 40.5% of adults are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. President Biden announced earlier this month that his administration is aiming to increase the number of adults with at least one dose to 70% by July 4. He also said he wants 160 million American adults fully vaccinated by the same date.

“If we succeed in this effort,” Biden said during his announcement, “then Americans will have taken a serious step toward a return to normal.”

The CDC recently said fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most settings, though masks are still required on airplanes, buses, trains and public transportation. Cities across the country are lifting restrictions on indoor dining and gatherings as cases fall and vaccinations increase.

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has repeatedly said that he wants to see daily case numbers drop below 10,000 before a broad relaxation of safety measures takes place.

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