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Thanksgiving travel down across Washington, WSDOT dashboard shows

The CDC and Washington state leaders asked people not to travel over the holiday weekend. It appears many listened to their message.

The Centers for Disease Control and Washington state leaders asked people to avoid traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday and to keep their gatherings small to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

According to data from the Washington State Department of Transportation, it appears many Washingtonian took their message to heart.

WSDOT has a COVID-19 dashboard showing the impact the virus has had on highway, train, plane and other modes of transportation. The dashboard compares 2020 highway traffic volumes with a baseline from 2019. The baseline is the volume number from the same weekday of the same month from 2019.

Specifically, in Spokane County on Thanksgiving, highway travel was down 25% compared to 2019. The day before Thanksgiving, highway travel was down only 5%, according to the dashboard. The day after the holiday, traffic was down 10%.

Credit: WSDOT

Highway traffic isn’t the only mode of transportation that saw a decrease. Amtrak trains saw a huge decrease in travel over the holiday weekend, according WSDOT.

According to the WSDOT dashboard, ridership on Amtrak was down 91-92% from Wednesday, Nov. 25 to Sunday, Nov. 29.

Credit: WSDOT

As of Monday, it’s unclear how Spokane air travel was impacted by the coronavirus over the holiday weekend. Overall, Spokane International Airport data from September shows passenger numbers are down 52% compared to 2019. 

Statewide, WSDOT’s dashboard shows domestic air travel statewide was down nearly 60% in October compared to the same month in 2019.  

Credit: WSDOT

Spokane International Airport Director of Marketing and Public Affairs Todd Woodard said they will not report November passenger numbers until January. He said the data is reported in aggregate monthly increments.

The Transportation Security Administration said early Thursday that Thanksgiving eve passenger numbers at checkpoints across the United States were at just under half of what they were on Thanksgiving eve last year.

TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein announced that as of Wednesday, Nov. 25, the TSA had screened 1,070,967 people at checkpoints nationwide. That number comes in at less than half that of last year when, according to the TSA, 2,602,631 people were screened at checkpoints across the country on Thanksgiving eve.

Despite this, 2020's Thanksgiving eve passenger numbers were still at the highest volume since March 16, according to the TSA. The agency noted that this is only the fourth time that passenger numbers this year have topped 1 million since March 16.


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