COVID tests, vaccines recommended before holiday gatherings as busy travel season gets underway

CHICAGO (WLS) -- COVID cases are rising across the country including Illinois, with the omicron variant now detected in at least 46 states.

While the delta variant is still responsible for most cases health officials are worried about a surge on top of a surge.

This comes as many people plan to get together for Christmas.

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Holiday travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels.

"Definitely domestic. International bookings are also looking a little bit more like pre-pandemic, still down a bit from where we were in 2019," said Hopper economist Adit Damodaran.

TSA has screened more than 2.1 million people at US airports for four straight days.

Triple A says more than 109 million Americans are expected to hit the road or hop on a plane in the next two weeks.

"I'm seeing much more people in the airport, so I'd say traffic has increased," said Kugbeme Isumoneh, who is traveling to Oklahoma City.

That travel surge meets the surge of the omicron variant, which has been detected in at least 46 states, including Illinois.

"The good news is we know that planes themselves are pretty safe," said Dr. Ashish Jha. "What I advise family, friends who are traveling over the holidays is obviously it would be really helpful if they were fully vaccinated and boosted."

Health experts are also recommending people get tested two to three days before gathering or even taking a rapid test on the day of a gathering. Precautions like that are giving travelers a sense of protection.

"I think the most important thing is to be vaccinated three times, keep your mask on all the time and try to stay away from people as much as possible," said Michael Fime, who is flying to Houston.

Triple A believes the busiest travel times nationwide will begin on Thursday and that'll continue through January 3.

The city of chicago recommends you log onto flychicago.com for real-time information about flights, parking updates, taxicab wait times, available concessions and more.
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