Tens of millions of Americans are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, despite warnings from federal health officials that doing so will worsen the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” lead U.S. immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he gets it that millions of Americans have “COVID fatigue” and are increasingly fed up with virus-related restrictions on gatherings and activities.
However, traveling over the Thanksgiving — and, soon, Christmas — holiday while ignoring those restrictions are only “going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser to the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine initiative, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he estimates 70 percent of the U.S. population will have to be vaccinated for genuine herd immunity to take place, which he says should happen around May of next year.
“Most people need to be immunized before we can go back to a normal life,” he told the program, according to the Washington Post.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued an advisory warning Americans to refrain from visiting relatives and getting together for Thanksgiving, as have a number of governors and other elected officials around the country.
“At the individual household level, what’s at stake is basically the increased chance of one of your loved ones becoming sick and then being hospitalized and dying,” said Henry Walke, the agency’s COVID-19 incident response chief.
“As we’re seeing exponential growth in cases, and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another, leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” he added.
“I think these times are tough. It’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months now, and people are tired, and we understand that people want to see their relatives and their friends in the way they’ve always done it,” Walke noted further. “But this year, particularly, we’re asking people to be as safe as possible, and limit their travel.
Nevertheless, Americans are traveling.
In fact, the Transportation Security Administration reported that more than 2 million airline passengers were screened by agency personnel on Friday and Saturday, with more than 1 million alone on Friday, just the second day since March to hit one million travelers screened in a single day, HuffPost reported.
Travel insurer AAA estimates that some 50 million Americans will still travel for Thanksgiving, while others believe Christmas travel will be even heavier regardless of the pandemic.
As such, officials with AAA have issued some recommendations to help improve personal safety and the safety of others.
“You want to limit your stops, you want to make sure you have your non-perishable food items with you, you’ll want to make sure you have water, your medications, so you can plan ahead and limit some of those stops because you just don’t know what you might encounter,” Tiffany Wright, spokesperson for AAA of the Carolinas, told WFMY-2.
“You might go to a gas station, they might not allow you to use the restroom, you might stop at a restaurant and you may not be able to go in,” she said, adding that it would be wise to pack hand sanitizer and additional face coverings.
Travelers should also call ahead to ensure that hotels are indeed open and check to see what precautions they require.
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