PHOENIX - During the run-up to Thanksgiving in 2019, officials with Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport say they had about 140,000 to 150,000 passengers per day.
For 2020, with effects from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as recommendations by CDC officials for Americans not to travel to visit relatives and friends during the Thanksgiving and holiday season, the airport is expecting passenger volumes at 50% of where they were in 2019.
On Nov. 22, some of the travellers have already arrived in Phoenix at Sky Harbor.
"We’re coming in to Phoenix to visit my son," said Lynn Husen.
"We are coming from San Antonio, Texas, visiting family for Thanksgiving," said Jessica Finch.
The crowded airliner cabins and airport terminals are not ideal for social distancing. Dr. Andrew Caroll, a family physician, is concerned the holiday travel could lead to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
"People are wearing masks, thank goodness, but they're crowded against one another, milling about against one another, all indoors, and that becomes a concern, 'cause that air is being circulated," said Dr. Caroll.
In addition, that time spent waiting in lines for security and at terminals makes things that much worse.
"People are waiting in line for long periods of time that far exceeds the 15 minutes you need to have the high risk of transmitting COVID," said Dr. Caroll.
Dr. Caroll says ideally, he would ask that people don't travel at all, at least until case numbers go down.
"You never know what you're running into, folks who might have COVID who don't know yet," said Dr. Caroll. "We are very concerned about this first part of mid-December. After all, this travel 'cause we think we are going to get hit very hard at the hospitals."
Dr. Caroll gave some advice for people who absolutely need to travel this holiday season.
"Wear a mask. Wear two if you must. Try to keep your airways as safe as possible, wash your hands, and sanitize often," said Dr. Caroll.
Dr. Caroll says another thing people can do to make sure they are keeping socially distant is to simply hold their arms out and turn around. If they aren't touching anybody, they should be OK as far as social distancing. If not, move to a safer area, if at all possible.
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