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COVID-19 projected to take toll on Thanksgiving holiday travel

COVID-19 projected to take toll on Thanksgiving holiday travel


AAA Carolinas is projecting a modest decrease in North Carolinians traveling more than 50 miles during the four-day Thanksgiving holiday period.

The group estimates there will be 1.46 million North Carolinians making a trip of at least 50 miles, down 5.2% from 1.54 million in 2019.

Although the group identifies the COVID-19 pandemic as the primary factor in fewer travelers, it also lists the economy and higher unemployment as playing a role in the potential largest year-over-over decline since 2009.

"These figures could be even lower as Americans continue to monitor the state of public health, including rising COVID-19 infections, renewed quarantine restrictions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel notices," AAA Carolinas said.

The group said travel decisions remain "a personal one."

“The CDC says staying home is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"For those who still decide to travel, we urge you to take every precaution possible to protect yourself and others.”

AAA Carolinas is projecting a 2.5% decline in automobile travel for North Carolinians at 1.39 million, along with a 46% decline in air travel at 63,000 and 76% drop-off in other transportation options to 6,800.

Piedmont Triad International Airport released Wednesday its holiday-travel tip sheet for dealing with the pandemic.

AAA Carolinas said North Carolinians will pay on average $1.96 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline — about 44 cents less than a year ago.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday it is offering this weekend more than 120 free COVID-19 community testing events statewide.

For a full list of all testing event times and locations throughout the state, go to

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state's health secretary, has advised potential Thanksgiving holiday travelers to get a COVID-19 test at least three days beforehand.

"Especially for gatherings that include people who are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19, such as anyone over the age of 65," Cohen said.

Cohen said that "the best way to protect loved ones during Thanksgiving is to limit travel and gatherings with anyone who does not live in your household."

A screening test can help someone know if they have COVID-19 even if they do not have yet have symptoms.

However, Cohen cautioned that a screening test can miss some infections, and that a negative test "only gives you information for that point in time."

"If you test positive, stay home and isolate," Cohen said.

"If you test negative, it’s not a free pass. Wear a mask and practice all 3Ws, including keeping 6 feet of distance from others and washing hand often."

DHHS advised limiting how many individuals are crowded around where food is available, holding events outdoors if possible, and have one individual designated to serve food and drinks.



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