Some are older and reckon they do not have many Christmases left. Others try to keep long-distance romance alive. Some just long for the human connection that has been absent for the last nine months.
Millions of Americans travel ahead of Christmas and New Year despite pleas from public health experts that they stay home to avoid fueling the raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 nationwide.
Many people at airports thought long and hard about whether to go somewhere and found a way to rationalize it.
“My mother is worth it. She needs my help, ”said 34-year-old Jennifer Brownlee, a fisherman from Bayou La Batre, Alabama, who was waiting at Tampa Airport to fly to Oregon to see her mother, who had just lost a leg. “I know God made me. He will not let me get sick. ”
Brownlee said she would wear a mask on the plane “out of respect” for other passengers, but that her immune system and Jesus Christ would protect her.
More than 5 million people passed through the country’s airport security checkpoints between Friday and Tuesday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
It is approx. 60% lower than the same time last year. But that amounts to about a million passengers a day, or about what the United States saw in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, when some Americans also ignored warnings and ended up contributing to the rise in the United States
Michelle Lopez wondered if she made the right decision after flying from Houston to Norfolk, Virginia, where her boyfriend is serving in the Navy.
“I did not want to go, but I have not seen him for so long,” said the 24-year-old, who last saw his girlfriend about five months ago and tried to maintain their relationship.
Before flying, Lopez took a COVID-19 test that came back negative. But the two planes she took had little room for social distance. Some passengers removed their masks to eat or drink. And not all used cloths that airlines offer to disinfect armrests and trays.
Her stay at Chicago’s O’Hare airport was just as disturbing, she said. It was full of people and felt hot from too many bodies. Some people wore their masks under their noses. In the bathrooms, not everyone washed their hands for at least 20 seconds, Lopez said.
She works as a medical assistant in a doctor’s office. She will have to be quarantined for 10 days at home and tested again before returning to work.
Joan Crunk, 75, and her husband, Jim, 80, of Grandview, Missouri, were at Kansas City airport Tuesday waiting to pick up their daughter and son-in-law, who flew in from Savannah, Georgia, and planned to stay with them until 2 p.m. January. It had been a year since they had seen each other.
Joan Crunk said they talked a lot about whether or not they should get together.
“It is very difficult and we are older. My husband is 80. There is no guarantee from one year to the next, ”she said as“ Silver Bells ”played over the airport speakers.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged people to celebrate only with people in their households, but added that if they cannot follow the instructions, they should take precautions, such as ensuring good ventilation in the home.
“We can not let fatigue make us make bad decisions this holiday season that ends up making us back, especially when we are so incredibly close to getting ourselves and everyone else over the finish line,” he said, referring to the start of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Overall, the AAA expected about 85 million people to travel between Wednesday and January 3, most of them by car. That would be a drop of almost a third from a year ago, but still a large number in the midst of a pandemic.
Janeen Pierre juggled a pile of luggage Tuesday and got her two little girls to the toilet in Charlotte, North Carolina, the airport before boarding their plane to Orlando, Florida.
Pierre and her husband had planned to spend Christmas on a Disney cruise, but the pandemic changed their itinerary to call during the holidays at Disney theme parks instead.
“Disney refunded all our money, but American Airlines did not. So we have to have a very Disney Christmas, ”she said, adding that her girls could hardly contain their enthusiasm for visiting Cinderella’s castle.
Still, she said, “With the new strains coming out, I don’t know if this is the smartest idea.”
Doreen Lindsay, a 48-year-old physician, was staying in Atlanta and traveling home to Memphis, Tennessee, from the San Diego area, where she worked with COVID-19 patients at a field hospital. She planned to be with her son during the holidays.
“It really is my son and myself. It’s him and me. We’ve been through so much. And he’s excited. Can you believe it? An 18-year-old man happy that his mother came home, ”she said.
Lindsey said workers at the field hospital were isolated as they completed the task and were tested regularly, including up to four times over the course of four days before leaving.
As for her travels, “it’s not just ‘oh, recreation.’ I’m coming back to my place. I do not go to someone else, ”she said. “The risk must be worth the benefits.”