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TSA screens over 2M a day in return to pre-pandemic levels

TSA agents talk among themselves as they wait for passengers at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport in St. Louis last year. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
TSA agents talk among themselves as they wait for passengers at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport in St. Louis last year. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

June 12 (UPI) -- Airport travel has returned to average pre-pandemic levels with more than 2 million travelers in a single day.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 2,028,961 travelers at airport security checkpoints on Friday, the agency announced in a statement Saturday. It was the first day more than 2 million people were screened since March 2020 and marked an increase of 1.5 million more travelers than the same day in 2020.

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"The growing number of travelers demonstrates this country's resilience and the high level of confidence in COVID-19 counter measures, to include ready to access vaccines," said Darby LaJoye, a senior official performing the duties of the TSA administrator. "TSA stands ready to provide a safe and secure screening process as part of the overall travel experience."

TSA screened on average 2 million to 2.5 million travelers per day prior to the pandemic, according to the statement. The level of travel hit the lowest point on April 13, 2020, when 87,534 people were screened. By mid-May 2021, TSA's daily screening volume reached approximately 65% of pre-pandemic levels.

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Now that the number of airport passengers is returning to and in some cases surpassing pre-pandemic levels, the TSA has advised travelers to allow sufficient time to accommodate increased screening time.

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A mask mandate is still in place through Sept. 13 for all passengers on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the United States, the TSA noted.

Airport travel has increased since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in April that fully vaccinated citizens could resume travel domestically and internationally with low risk of COVID-19 exposure as long as they wear masks in public. More than 142 million were fully vaccinated in the United States as of Friday, data shows.

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"People have been chomping at the bit to get out there," National Geographic contributor Heather Greenwood Davis told CBS News after the CDC's COVID-19 guidance eased in April for fully vaccinated travel. "And now that they have the chance, I think they'll go."

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