Holiday travel down for first time in over decade; few still hitting the road despite COVID-19 pandemic

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Holiday travel amid COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Paul Hawver says nothing was going to stop him from spending the Christmas holiday with his 6-year-old daughter Allysa, not even a pandemic.

"I don't get much time with her as it is, so definitely not," said Hawver.

Like Hawver, many are still hitting the road.

"It's getting to the point where you can't help it, you miss your family," said Karisa Jutrozonka.

Wisconsin natives Tubga Madaus and her 17-year-old-son Madison are driving to Mt.Pleasant, South Carolina to spend the holiday with her mother who's in from Turkey.

"It will just be nice to be with family and to actually give them hugs," said Madaus.

But there are those heeding the warnings of public health experts to stay safe by staying at home and celebrating virtually and avoid creating another COVID-19 surge.

"We want to connect but the best way to assure that we're going to have a long time to connect is to be safe," said Dr. Sharon Welbel, Cook County Health Infection Control Epidemiology director.

AAA is predicting only 1 in 4 Americans will travel during the Christmas and New Year's weeks. And if they do, it will be by car.

In Illinois 6.1 million traveled during the holiday in 2019. This year, roughly 4.2 million will travel. That's a decrease of 30.4%

The decline ends a streak of 11 consecutive years of holiday travel growth, according to AAA.