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Despite warnings, as many as 84.5 million Americans expected to travel for holidays

Posted at 5:57 AM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 13:01:20-05

SALT LAKE CITY — AAA predicts as many as 84.5 million Americans plan to travel during the year-end holiday period, despite warnings from the CDC and other public health officials.

"While AAA expects at least 34 million fewer travelers compared to last year’s holiday season, as many as 84.5 million Americans may still travel from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, a decline in travel of at least 29%," a news release from AAA states.

Salt Lake City International Airport officials expect to see 18,000 travelers come through its front doors on Wednesday and another 10,000 on Christmas Eve. In a typical year, the number of holiday travelers departing from Salt Lake City ranges from 26,000 to 30,000 per day.

According to the CDC, traveling may increase your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19, and they continue to recommend postponing travel and staying home to protect yourself from the disease.

People who wish to travel are urged to ask themselves:

  • Are cases high or increasing in your community or at your destination? The more cases in your community or at your destination, the more likely you are to get and spread COVID-19 as a result of your door-to-door travel. Check CDC’s COVID Data Tracker for the latest number of cases in each area.
  • Are hospitals in your community or at your destination overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19? To find out, check state and local public health department websites.
  • Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Check state and local requirements before you travel.
  • During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with?
  • Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or airplane, which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?
  • Are you traveling with people who don’t live with you?

If the answer to any of those questions is "yes," the CDC says you should stay delay traveling and consider making other plans, such as virtual gatherings. Click here for further travel and holiday celebration-related recommendations from the CDC.

“I want people to be more careful. I want them to limit traveling to the extent possible. And when you congregate, try to do it with a limited number of people,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

According to AAA, 2.9 million Americans are expected to travel by plane, a reduction of 60 percent compared with 2019. Those renting cars and/or staying in hotels or motels are urged to ask about the safety precautions the car rental and lodging agencies are following to protect their customers.

"Most Americans who decide to travel will do so by car, with road trips accounting for 96% of holiday travel. Up to 81 million Americans will travel by car, a decline of at least 25% compared to last year. Auto travel is expected to replace some trips previously taken by bus, train or airplane, given the flexibility, security and comfort traveling by car provides," the AAA news release says,