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Millions Of Americans Traveling For Holidays Despite Health Warnings

AAA Travel predicts around 85 million Americans may take some kind of trip between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3.
Posted at 5:57 PM, Dec 23, 2020

Health officials are warning Americans to stay home this holiday season to avoid another coronavirus surge, yet millions are still traveling.

"I mean, I feel it's OK," Kaela Vermeulen said. "There's really nothing more you can do, I guess."

"Everyone is respectful, and I appreciate that," Nicole Williams said. "No one is trying to overcrowd."

AAA Travel expects at least 34 million fewer Americans to travel this holiday season than last year. But it predicts around 85 million Americans may still take some kind of trip between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3. 

Here’s the breakdown: It predicts about 3 million Americans will fly during the holidays, down 60% compared to last year; about 81 million Americans will travel by car, a 25% drop; and 480,000 will travel by bus, train or cruise ship, an 88% drop. 

The CDC has repeatedly warned people to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Health experts are worried that if people ignore that advice over the holidays, it could cause another coronavirus surge. 

"If we look back through this year, we have seen that every time we have a holiday, Memorial Day weekend or any other holiday, we see that people getting together is an opportunity for the virus to pass from people to people and increase the transmission," cardiovascular and pulmonary disease specialist Gustavo Ferrer told Newsy. 

The nation's leading infectious disease expert says air travel is risky, mainly because of what can happen at the airports.

"This type of travel is risky," Dr. Anthony Fauci said. "Particularly if people start congregating when they get to their destination in larger crowds in indoor settings. I'm afraid that if, in fact, we see this happen, we will have a surge that's superimposed upon the difficult situation we are already in."

Fauci says this doesn't mean Christmas should be canceled.

"Whenever I talk about being careful, someone will say, 'Well, he wants to cancel Christmas,'" Fauci said. "I don't want to do that. I want people to be more careful. I want them to limit traveling to the extent possible."