The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged Americans to not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, explained there is “no more important time than now for each and every American to redouble our efforts to watch our distance, wash our hands and, most importantly, wear a mask.”
“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” he said. “For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living.”
Walke said that the CDC worries “about the transportation hubs.” He added that the public may not be able to observe social distancing while waiting in line, for example, when they use buses and planes.
“We’re alarmed,” Walke stressed, saying that the country has experienced an “exponential increase” in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. “One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it.”
Moreover, he revealed that 30% to 40% of the spread of the virus is caused by people without symptoms.
“From an individual household level, what’s at stake is basically increased chance of one of your loved ones becoming sick and then hospitalized and dying,” Walke said. “We certainly don’t want to see that happen. These times are tough. It’s been a long outbreak.”
Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, the CDC’s community intervention and critical population task force lead, reiterated that they are “asking people to be flexible,” saying that those who are going to the homes of at-risk people must be careful.
The CDC’s “strong recommendation” for Thanksgiving holiday travel urges people to check infection rates in areas where participants of the dinner live, limit the number of attendees, increase ventilation, observe physical distancing, wear a mask, and avoid potluck-style gatherings.
Meanwhile, airline executives said on Thursday that airline bookings have begun to drop ahead of Thanksgiving in the U.S.
“Certainly with the increase in infection rates really throughout the country we’ve seen a dampening of demand,” American Airlines President Robert Isom told the audience of Skift Aviation Forum. “It’s really too soon to tell how deep and how long there may be a depressed environment but we’ve seen some weakening of bookings.”
Airline bookings ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday
United Airlines reported that airline bookings dropped and cancellations increased in the week ended Wednesday, reflecting comments last week from Southwest Airlines about weakening demand.
Airlines have implemented public relations campaigns to promote increased sanitation of aircraft and their filtration systems.
“We are providing people safety in their journey and informed science and data so they can make a decision should they want to travel,” Nicholas Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, a trade group that represents most major U.S. carriers, said during a call with the press Thursday.
“We’re not encouraging people to travel. Do we want to see them travel? Yes, we do, but only if it’s safe to them and there are a variety of factors involved in that for each individual traveler.”