Some travelers take virus precautions as Thanksgiving travel rush resumes

OAKLAND – As the busiest holiday travel season in years gets into full swing, some travelers said protecting themselves from rising cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV is a priority.

At Oakland International Airport, roughly 170,000 people are expected to travel through between Wednesday and Sunday. That is a 10% increase from last year.

Jimmy Sheffield flew in from Las Vegas. “Smooth ride all the way in but a little crowded. It’s the holidays,” he told KPIX 5

Sheffield flew to Oakland to visit his brother.

With a spike in flu, RSV and COVID cases, Sheffield said he knew he had to mask up. He added, “For me it’s very important. I don’t do nothing to chance without the mask. I have to eat but other than that, I put the mask on.”

The line to get through security extended out to the baggage claim carousel area at Oakland International Airport. Many people were seen wearing a mask.

Lily Froio was in her way to Reno.

 “I’m a little bit worried but I’m going to be wearing a mask on the flight so that makes me feel a little bit better,” Froio said.

Masking requirements at airports were dropped on public transportation in April, but the Centers for Disease Control is still recommending a face covering during travel this holiday season.

Health experts also say testing may be another layer of protection if you have symptoms, three days after a known exposure or if you’re getting together with those that are older or immunocompromised.

Sheffield said, “I’m an older person, I know it’s out here. People acting like it doesn’t exist anymore. That’s just not where my thinking is.”

Others at the airport though are sensing holiday travel has rebounded close to pre-pandemic levels. Many say they have taken the proper precautions and feel confident about returning to normal.

Kate Kelly said, “I’m a woman of a certain age. I’m double vaxxed, I’m pretty healthy so at some point I have to jump back in.”

Vickie Lyons from Montana said, “We felt pretty safe. It’s always in the back of your mind when somebody coughs, but I thinks it’s just our new reality.”

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