Nearly 85 million Americans expected to travel for Christmas

The numbers are sparking fears that a COVID-19 surge will follow. New York City has ordered all travelers from the U.K. to quarantine upon arrival.
4:49 | 12/24/20

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Transcript for Nearly 85 million Americans expected to travel for Christmas
Good evening and thank you so much for joining us on a busy Wednesday night, I'm linsey Davis, in for David. Just two days before Christmas, but no shortage of headlines tonight. The covid relief bill that congress spent six months negotiating is now on hold. President trump says it doesn't go far enough. And it comes as December is shaping up to be the worst month in this pandemic. Majority of counties in this country are now considered sustained hot spots for covid-19, as millions of Americans are now on the move, despite pleas to stay close to raising fears of a bigger surge than after Thanksgiving. But there is encouraging news on those vaccines. Pfizer confirms that they will sell the U.S. Government 100 million more doses within the next six months. The first medical personnel with the New York City fire department got their shots today. But new concerns about those variant strains THA are now appearing in the uk. Will the vaccine protect against those, as well? And are children more susceptible? Dr. Ashish jha is standing by, but we begin with ABC's Stephanie Ramos. Reporter: Despite dire warnings, nearly 85 million Americans are expected to travel for Christmas, sparking fears of another catastrophic coronavirus surge, worse than what we saw after Thanksgiving. Our gio Benitez at New York's Laguardia airport. TSA screening more than 5 million people since Friday, a record during the pandemic. And they're going mostly to rural areas, not big cities, raising concerns about a possible surge in vulnerable communities. Reporter: And tonight, that alarming new headline out of the uk about yet another variant of the virus. Officials identifying two people in the uk infected with a variant known to be circulating in South Africa, just days after announcing a different version is spreading rapidly in the uk. This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the uk. Reporter: Experts urging caution, saying it's common for viruses to mutate, but officials now investigating exactly how and why the uk variant is spreading more easily amongst children and adults. New York City taking action, ordering all travelers from the uk to quarantine or face daily fines of $1,000. We are going to have sheriff's deputies go to the home or the hotel of every single traveler coming in from the uk. Reporter: Scientists say the variant is likely already in the U.S., but believe the newly authorized modern and pfizer vaccines will work against it. And today, pfizer an deal with the U.S. Government providing 100 million more doses of its vaccine by next July, doubling the initial amount. The CDC saying more than a million Americans have been vaccinated. Today, those brave fdny paramedics who responded to countless calls during the brutal spring surge receiving their first shots on the same day they learned a 12th member We've been on the front lines of this terrible and very contagious virus. We have lost people along the way and today's the first day that we start saving the lives of the first responders. Reporter: December on track to be the deadliest month of the pandemic. More than 3,400 lives lost on Tuesday. The Cheatham family in Kentucky losing three family members since Thanksgiving. First their grandfather, then both their parents. I could've went one Christmas without seeing my parents, but now we have to spend the rest of ous without ours. Reporter: While the CDC recommends staying home for the holidays, the lowest risk travel is a short trip by car with members of your own household and no stops along the way. This way, you avoid other people and contaminated surfaces. Linsey? Stephanie, thank you so much. And we want to get right to Dr. Ashish jha, Dean of the brown university school of health about that latest variation discovered in the uk. Dr. Jha, how concerning is this, and is it likely that it's already here in the united Yes, good evening and thank you for having me on. One of the reasons we're discovering them in the uk because they're doing really extensive testing of their viruses in a way that we are not. So, we don't know if it's in the U.S. Or not. It is concerning that we have now several variants that seem to be spreading more easily. But we do need to start looking for it more aggressively here in the United States. And are children more susceptible to infection from these mutations that we're seeing? There's a lot we're still learning about this. It does appear from preliminary data that kids may be more susceptible to being infected. Doesn't necessarily mean they're going to get any sicker. One of the highlights of this disease is that kids don't usually get very sick. I think that will be true for this variant, as well. Okay, Dr. Jha, thank you so

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