Thanksgiving travel: Many still heading to Chicago airports despite COVID-19 warning from CDC

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Despite warnings about COVID-19, many Americans are still flying for the Thanksgiving holiday. While about 50% fewer people will be flying, the airports are certainly getting more crowded already, with people determined to go ahead with their Thanksgiving plans.

Although the CDC is urging Americans not to travel, more than two million people passed through security checkpoints at airports across the country this weekend. That's the second-highest number of people to travel by air since the pandemic began.

RELATED: Chicago COVID-19 travel order updated with Calif. NY, NH added to orange category

Doctor Anthony Fauci says that is a real concern.

"You see the clips on TV, people at airports, I mean those are the things we've got to realize are going to get us in even more trouble than we are in right now," said Dr. Fauci.

RELATED: CDC updates Thanksgiving guidance, recommends that Americans do not travel

Health experts everywhere have spent the last several weeks warning against Thanksgiving travel. In Chicago, a travel order is in place, asking people to either quarantine or get tested upon their return from most states. But despite the limitations and all the extra hassle, many say cancelling their plans was just not an option.

"We planned it a long time ago, so it was more like, should we keep it, should we not. And we decided to," said Susan Nathan, who is traveling to Orlando.

Overall, TSA says just over 3 million people were processed at the nation's airports this past weekend. That's compared to over 7 million on this same weekend last year.

"We have the face shields and the mask, and tons of sanitizer and food," said Roshni Kharoliwalla, who is visiting family from India. "I've told the kids, 'just leave the mask on, [and] the shield on."

Despite the overall reduction in air travel, the major airlines have all added thousands of flights to meet increased demand this week. At O'Hare, United has stationed ambassadors just past security who are handing out water, sanitizing wipes, and information on new travel protocols.

"I feel like you can't live in fear. It's Thanksgiving. You should be with your family, your loved ones," said Australia Hill, who is traveling to Dallas.

At O'Hare Monday, there was a large crowd during the 7 a.m. hour at the security line. Then were was a lull, with an airline worker telling ABC7 they expect ebbs and flows all day.

Some passengers who chose to fly said they are still very anxious about it:

"I'm very paranoid when it comes to traveling, especially during COVID, but our travel has been pretty safe," said traveler Genesis Brown.

"I'm a little nervous, but I think that if we all wear a mask and take the necessary precautions we will be OK," said traveler Ciara Stuhler."

People are also traveling by car this year, with close to 50 million people estimated to take to the road. While that number is only slightly lower than last year, Wednesday is still expected to be the busiest day on the roads.

The CDC says it's not just traveling but large family gatherings around the holiday, which could spread the highly contagious virus.

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CDC officials says they are concerned with not just travel, but large family gatherings for the holiday, which could spread the highly contagious virus.

Some safety tips from officials include:
-Celebrate with people in your own household
-Practice social distancing, wear a mask
-Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils
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