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TSA screens more than 500,000 passengers for first time since late March

Daniella Genovese

The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 500,000 passengers Thursday, notching its highest count since the end of March when the outbreak of COVID-19 brought air travel to a near-standstill.

On Thursday, the agency recorded 502,209 passengers, indicating that travelers are slowly returning to airports across the nation as states continue to ease virus-related restrictions. However, it is still a far cry from the more than 2.6 million people screened at the same point a year ago.

The last time the agency surpassed the 500,000 mark was on March 21 with a tally of more than 540,000 people.

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TSA, which provides a daily national number of people screened through security checkpoints, noted that these numbers include ticketed travelers, some flight crew, as well as airport workers who are required to be screened prior to their shift.

Over the last few months, the number of people being screened across airports nationwide has more than doubled.

In March, the coronavirus outbreak left planes nearly empty after governments around the world implemented stay-at-home orders forcing residents to shelter in place. The move ultimately caused passenger demand to plunge and forced major U.S. carriers to scale back flight schedules. They were among the hardest hit companies as the coronavirus abruptly shut down overseas markets and then pushed the U.S. into a pandemic-induced recession.

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Now, as lockdowns ease and travelers slowly return to airport check-in lines, major carriers are beginning to add flights back to their schedules.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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