WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Experts cautioned that traveling during Thanksgiving may increase the risk of getting the virus, considering the large crowd of people at the airports.
- While CDC also urges people to stay home, they advise protocols such as social distancing and face protection if traveling can’t be avoided.
- Reports showed that airports have never been a source of any outbreak since the pandemic started, but it still depends on how people follow COVID-19 measures.
Notwithstanding advisories from public health officials about limiting travel for Thanksgiving, many people still flocked to airports across the country, and some even not wearing safety face masks.
Footage taken from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, Arizona, posted on Twitter showed a large group of people waiting for their boarding.
At the San Francisco International Airport, people can be seen jam-packed together, waiting in chairs, and some are even standing.
In Des Moines, airport officials told the city register that they anticipate a 50 percent surge in regular passenger traffic going into the holidays. CBS Boston also posted a Logan International Airport footage showing passengers’ long lines in check-in counters and boarding gates.
These events were only a few days following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory, telling the public to stay home during Thanksgiving because the risk of COVID-19 infection will be higher. The CDC added that the most effective way to protect one’s self is to avoid traveling for now.
The same message was also conveyed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. During an interview with CBS show “Face the Nation,” Fauci said that people traveling over the holidays would only make the coronavirus situation worse.
Meanwhile, a senior expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Amesh A. Adalja, told Yahoo Life that airports implemented safety measures since the pandemic started, noting that there are no reported outbreaks on these terminals yet. He added that keeping it that way will depend on how people observe mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand washing. And since Thanksgiving is a season of travel, individuals who won’t follow procedures will likely be coming from airports.
Adalja further warned that the potential of virus superspreader could occur in airports, especially with passengers not adhering to safety protocols.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease authority and lecturer at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told Yahoo Life that the risk is not only limited at airports. He explained that traveling, staying on planes, and family get-togethers are all potential health risks.
Although the CDC emphasized that leaving home is not a good idea amidst the pandemic, the agency stressed that necessary measures such as wearing a face mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, hand sanitation, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and touching the nose, eyes, and mouth could help curb the spread of coronavirus.
Generally, experts agree that the worse is yet to come before things get better, noting these holidays, including Christmas, will be a difficult situation.