Local doctor concerned as people set to travel to and from Phoenix for Thanksgiving

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.

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news

Get the latest coronavirus news by downloading the FOX 10 News App. Our promise is that our alerts are there to inform you - not scare you.

On CoronavirusNOW.com, you'll find extensive coverage about COVID-19, including breaking news from around the country, exclusive interviews with health officials, and informative content from a variety of public health resources.

Sign up for FOX 10 email alerts, newsletters

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19


https://espanol.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19


https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/es/covid-19/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home (In Spanish/En Español)