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Airports, health officials preparing for holiday travel

Health officials said there’s “no perfectly-safe way” to celebrate Thanksgiving with people outside of your household this year.
Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 7:44 PM EST
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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Health officials are issuing a stark warning ahead of an anticipated increase in holiday travel this year.

“I have great concerns,” said Onslow County Health Director Kristen Richmond-Hoover. “I feel like we’re going to see a lot more cases after this holiday.”

During a time that has already seen record-shattering COVID-19 cases, health officials are urging vigilance and cautioning against airline travel.

“You can do everything right, you can think you have taken the most prudent steps, wear your mask and do your very best to keep distance, but there are going to be settings in commercial air travel where you can’t do that,” said Richmond-Hoover. “Where you really can’t keep your six foot of distance from others. And those are some of the risks that you accept when you choose to travel.”

Raleigh-Durham International is expected to see about 9,100 passengers on their busiest day. That’s compared to last year’s single-day recording-breaking total of 54,800 people for the major airport. That’s compared to when the airport dipped down near just 3% of its typical traffic earlier this year.

Even with the anticipated boost in travel this holiday compared to the rest of the year, airports are struggling. Albert Ellis Airport saw a 22% drop in airline travel this past weekend compared to the same time last year.

“Every week that we go through, we long for the week that we just thought was really bad,” said Richmond-Hoover. “We continue to see this grow.”

The anticipated increase is leaving health officials on high-alert, but the stark drop in traffic is also leaving them optimistic that most Americans are heeding the warnings on travel.

If you plan on traveling this holiday season or celebrating with family, think about COVID-19’s incubation timeframe...

Posted by Onslow County Health Department on Monday, November 23, 2020

“We have to remember this will not last forever, but we are in a very intense time of transmission,” said Richmond-Hoover.

Still, health officials are urging travelers to get tested 3-4 days beforehand, and to quarantine once they do, up until Thanksgiving Day. “But you have to remember that test is only good for that moment in time, for which you were tested,” said Richmond-Hoover.

A desperate plea ahead of what health officials fear might be a dark winter in the fight against COVID-19, which could take thousands of more lives.

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