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Holiday brings out travelers but also dread among health workers



AUGUSTA, Ga. – Numbers show COVID-19 cases are not slowing down, and that has a lot of us worried about this holiday season.

Many people are deciding to stay home, but tens of millions of Americans are still expected to travel.

A study from AAA expects driving to account for 95 percent of holiday travel as some opt for safer ways to see family.

The airport is more eerie than busy. It’d be a strange thing to say if it wasn’t 2020.

“Overall, our numbers are at about 50 percent of what we saw last year, but still that’s higher than the national average,” said Lauren Smith with the Augusta Regional Airport.

Smith says the airport numbers have been “COVID standard” but growing just a bit. Thirteen flights were scheduled Tuesday, compared to usually 16 or 17. Perhaps surprisingly, most flights are at capacity with airline restrictions.

“I think the people that are flying through are somewhat comfortable with COVID in general and the procedures that are implemented,” Smith said.

Smith said if you aren’t comfortable with traveling, don’t take the risk; stay home.

“I think we are all kind of bracing, all of us in health care, for what’s going to happen over the holidays,” Dr. Ioana Chirca with University Hospital said.

Chirca says if you do gather for Thanksgiving, keep it small and within your own household.

“Wear a mask if you can,” Chirca said. “Social distance if you can — 6 feet and more.”

If you are at high risk, the message is simple: Stay away from gatherings. As some officials encourage getting tested before turkey, health officials say it’s a false sense of security.

“By no means does a negative test mean that you could not develop COVID after your test was resulted,” Chirca said.

Health officials also say if you have to host the gathering indoors, make sure space is well ventilated. Of course, if you do get tested, quarantine while you wait on those results.