Surge in COVID not expected to dampen holiday travel

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 9:48 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Many of you are still planning to travel to visit family just as the new COVID variant Omicron is speeding up its ability to spread.

The Christmas travel season is looking a lot more like 2019 than last year. There is even an increase in travelers from Thanksgiving just a month ago.

The new variant Omicron adds a layer of concern but doesn’t appear to be slowing many down.

“We are expecting more than 109 million people traveling a distance of 50 miles or more l between now and January 2,” said AAA spokesperson, Clay Ingram.

Ingram says more than 100 million of those people will be traveling by car.

“Noticeably busier than even Thanksgiving. The good news about that is unlike Thanksgiving our Christmas-New Years holiday travel is a little more spread out,” said Ingram.

Mary Swanstrom with Huntsville International Airport says if you are traveling by plane, the story is no different.

“This year for Thanksgiving, November 24-27th we had 9,895 passengers through Huntsville. What we are anticipating so far for the 22nd through the 27th of December is 9,091, of course, that number can go up,” said Swanstrom.

Swanstrom wants to remind those traveling with gifts to wait to wrap until they reach their destination.

“If you are taking wrapped gifts through your TSA checkpoint, or even sometimes in carry-ons they will have to be unwrapped and looked at before you can carry them on the plane,” said Swanstrom.

This is all happening while COVID cases are beginning to surge due to Omicron.

“It is something that anyone who is traveling over the next couple of weeks should think about,” said ADPH District Medical Officer, Dr. Wes Stubblefield.

Dr. Stubblefield says no matter how you travel, be cautious.

“We have seen a steady increase in the number of cases. We have seen a steady increase in the number of hospitalizations in adults and children. We have seen a steady increase in tests that are positive to all the tests that were done.”>

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