As we approach the holiday season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a plea to Americans to avoid traveling while the COVID-19 pandemic surges across the country. But, despite warnings from health officials last week, more than 1 million air travelers passed through security checkpoints on Friday and Sunday at U.S. airports over the weekend as passengers attempted to avoid the upcoming holiday travel rush.
While the vast majority of travelers plan on hitting the road, many others are taking a train or plan to their holiday destination. Health officials say your chances of catching COVID-19 while traveling depends on the length of the trip, the number of stops you take and whether you and those around you are taking precautions like wearing a mask and staying six feet apart.
Health officials say the very best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is to stay home this holiday season, or to take short trips by car with members of your household with no stops along the way. But if you can't avoid it, here is everything you need to know about traveling and staying safe during the holiday season:
Many airports around the country have begun offering COVID-19 testing before your flight. For example, if you are flying out of Los Angeles International Airport, the airport authority is offering access to COVID-19 testing using a standard Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) nasal swab test. Results are delivered to participants through email within 24 hours of the tests. There are three locations at LAX for the pilot sample collection program.
- Tom Bradley International Terminal on the Upper/Departures level at the counters located in Aisle C, along the north side of the terminal;
- Terminal 2 Lower/Arrivals Level near the information booth; and
- Terminal 6 Lower/Arrivals Level near the information booth.
Testing is being offered seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on a walk-up basis.
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Monday that starting Wednesday, travelers who arrive at Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airport will be required to sign a form acknowledging California's recommended 14-day self-quarantine in response to rising coronavirus rates.
The form will be available at travel.lacity.org, Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a coronavirus briefing Monday.
If you plan on catching some sun and surf in the state of Hawaii over the next few weeks, before you can board your flight, passengers must be able to show a negative COVID-19 test 24-72 hours before departing. Anyone arriving in Hawaii without a confirmed negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours will subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
All airlines have taken precautions amid the pandemic including increased sanitation, better air cabin filtration systems and with many flights eliminating the middle seat to help passengers keep distance from one another.
If you are flying, you should expect to wear a mask through the entire flight, except when eating and drinking.
If you aren't quite comfortable flying in an aluminum tube with 100 other people amid the coronavirus pandemic just yet, one option you can take is a train!
Amtrak says they've rolled out a series of new safety measures meant to help passengers stay safe including limiting ticket sales on reserved services to help people socially distance, enhancing cleaning protocols at stations and in cars. Plastic protective barriers have also been installed at customer counters and masks are required to be worn by staff and passengers in stations.
Passengers also have the option to book "private rooms" which are available on long-distance routes. A standard room includes two seats that can be converted into beds, free wifi and a window where you can safely watch the world roll by as you head for grandma's house.
AAA predicts that more than 47 million Americans will travel by car for the Thanksgiving holiday. While it can seem like the safest option for travel this holiday season, driving by car is not without risk. Health officials say making stops along the way for gas, food or bathroom breaks can put you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Whenever you have to get out of the car, make sure you wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer. Health officials also encourage people to travel by RV to help cut down on the number of stops for food and bathroom breaks.
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