Coronavirus pandemic, warnings from health officials impact holiday travel

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Thanksgiving holiday week is usually when millions of people either fly or hit the road to be with family and friends.

But this year, because of a rise in COVID-19 cases, many are deciding to stay home, heeding the recommendations of health officials.

Sid Goehri and Pat Wilson are traveling from St. Charles, Missouri to Florida for Thanksgiving and stopped Friday at the welcome station on I-55 near Hernando.

They decided not to have a family get together this year out of concern over the pandemic but plan to stay as safe as possible while on the road.

“We are concerned with everything. We wear the masks, we have hand sanitizer, you know, being very careful distancing the whole nine yards,” Goehri said.

Rebecca Bruce is headed to Louisiana from Nashville, and so far, isn’t worried.

“I’ve been tested prior to for COVID and was negative, made sure I did all the appropriate checks and decided it was time to go and visit,” Bruce said.

She’s surprised traffic has been very light so far.

“As we were traveling there’s not as many on the road as we thought there would be,” Bruce said.

Usually millions of people are traveling for Thanksgiving, but the CDC is recommending folks stay home this year to avoid becoming another COVID-19 statistic. It’s a warning echoed by the U.S. surgeon general.

The safest way to spend Thanksgiving this year is with the immediate members of your household,” said U.S. surgeon general Jerome Adams.

Fewer people traveling for the holiday is already having a big impact on travel agents like Peggie Edgmon.

“The airlines are, of course in trouble, the hotels are in trouble. Everyone including the travel agencies are in trouble,” Edgmon said.

Edgmon says the pandemic has caused more people to cancel last minute plans and the numbers reflect the concern.

“I think maybe it is maybe at the very most 20% of what of has been in the past and that may be exaggerated figures,” Edgmon said.

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