Despite heightened concern surrounding the up-tick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, airports across the nation are seeing an increase in travel. At Grand Rapids' Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Thanksgiving travel numbers are down significantly, compared to years past. However, they are also the highest they've been since the beginning of the pandemic.
Last weekend, the TSA recorded roughly 3 million passengers going through U.S. checkpoints. Travel this week could be even higher, with the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after typically being the busiest travel days during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to warn people that Thanksgiving travel is extremely risky, and to stay home. Health experts say that even if you're among millions that took a COVID-19 test recently, a single negative test is not enough to guarantee a person is not infectious. And, travelers certainly cannot control risk factors at crowded airports, despite safety protocols that have been implemented.
A spokesperson for the airport says last week's passenger count was up 7% and more than 3,000 people went through through the TSA checkpoint, both Thursday and Saturday. The airport expects to see an additional increase of 10 to 15% this week.
Leading health experts say the full impact of holiday travel won't be known for several weeks. Of course, that will coincide with Christmas travel.