Travelers take more precautions as U.S. faces rise in COVID-19 cases

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 6:27 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2021 at 6:42 PM EST
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - As the U.S. sees a surge in COVID-19 cases ahead of the holiday season, travelers are also taking more precautions to stay safe.

This comes as AAA predicts more than 109 million people will board a plane or drive to their destinations for Christmas and New Year’s.

On Monday, Anise Goldfarb and Mark Lupfer flew out of Richmond International Airport to see family in Colorado Springs for the holidays.

“It’ll be nice to see them and definitely a good reunion,” Goldfarb said.

Goldfarb and Lupfer are worried about the omicron variant, which is now considered the dominant variant in the U.S.

“We’re just going to stick to safer activities, stay away from large groups of people, participate mostly in outdoor events if we do go out and do anything,” said Lupfer.

Bryan Lewis, a research associate professor at the Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative at the University of Virginia, has used models to predict future COVID-19 cases.

“We’ve come through a Delta wave, and we had a nice little descent out of it,” he said.

From recent model runs, Lewis believes the omicron variant will become the dominant strain in the state before the end of the year.

“We could be seeing some reasonable sustained growth in cases in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “Now, where it stops is something these models are not super good at predicting because it depends on how the population responds to it.”

Lewis believes the best line of defense is to get your booster shot.

“You kind of think about, ‘Well, I’m pretty good. I got two vaccines,’” he said. “You’re really sitting at one vaccine, maybe a little bit less, when you’re facing Omicron. Go ahead and get that third dose if you haven’t gotten it already.”

A boost many travelers are also getting to protect themselves during the busy travel season.

“We recently got our booster shots,” Lupfer said. “My family is all completely boosted, and we’re taking as many precautions as we can so we’re feeling more comfortable.”

To help curb the spread of COVID-19, the federal mask mandate was extended through March 18.

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