Millions expected to travel for Christmas, bringing concerns about post-holiday surge

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Millions of Americans plan to or are hitting the road and flying to their destinations for the holidays.

Doctors are worried once again about a post-holiday surge, though Chicago avoided that over Thanksgiving.

New numbers from the TSA showed agents screened more than a million people for two consecutive days since the start of the pandemic.

Nickolyn Jackson is back home from college in Virginia for the holidays.

She is returning to a busy airport with plenty of other holiday travelers. Despite concerns about Covid-19, Jackson said she had to come home.

"It's nice being with family for Christmas and everything. It's not worth being back in Virginia alone so I thought it would better to be with someone for the holidays," she said.

At O'Hare the numbers are down from previous years, but it seems much busier than it has been for most of the year.

It's a similar scene at other airports around the country, including Atlanta. Triple A predicts nearly 85 million people will travel during the holidays. That's down about 29 percent from a year ago.

But according to a poll by vacation home rental company Vacasa, more people are traveling by automobile.

"What we found is more than three in four are planning to drive as opposed to flying and on average about 43 percent will be traveling four to six hours to get to their destination," said Natalia Sutin with Vacasa.

Health officials meantime have tried to discourage people from traveling during the holidays, concerned about large gatherings and potential opportunities to spread the virus"

"It's the right thing that we all have to do," said IDPH Director Ngozie Ezike. "We need to avoid gatherings, wear our masks, wash our hands and maintain our distance."

Many air travelers however say they feel safe.

"The airlines are being great," said traveler Jacqueline Perger. "They are disinfecting everything, they are handing out sanitary wipes and everybody keeps their masks on."
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