COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s traditionally the busiest travel week of the year and even with the rising count in new COVID-19 infections across the country, many people are still planning to do so ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Though the number of travelers won’t be the same as in years past, those planning to get on a plane said they feel safe in the measures they’ve taken to protect both themselves and those they plan to spend the holiday with.
But as one grandmother grabbed her bag upon her arrival in Columbus Tuesday, she felt not just the weight of her luggage, but that of the growing pandemic.
“Very concerned. As a caregiver, you don’t want [any] family members to die,” said Karen Bent, who flew into Columbus from Florida.
But it was the pull of family that made the trip worth the risk.
“I called my daughter and said, ‘Look, I don’t want to come.’ The grandkids [were] sad,” Bent explains. “I told them I’m going to keep on my mask, I’m going to wash my hands, I’m going to do what I have to do.”
Whether in the drop-off terminal or at security, many family members shared one last hug before their loved ones departed. For them, family comes first.
“It’s really important to us to go visit our family, spend time with them for Thanksgiving, despite the pandemic going on. That’s the most important thing for us right now,” admits Miranda Donley, who traveled to Florida with her brother and son.
While some travelers plan to take precautions when they land, like staying in a separate location from those they plan to spend Thanksgiving with, others have done so before they board.
“I’ve been quarantining the last two weeks before going home,” says Tori Michiels, who is traveling to Green Bay to spend the holiday with her parents and sisters.
Officials at John Glenn International Airport expect 65,000 passengers to depart through Columbus this week, a number well below the 160,000 they saw this same time last year.
“Our travel has been lower than usual throughout the year due to the pandemic, so we’re excited to see a spike in travel this week for Thanksgiving,” said Sarah McQuaide with the airport.
The airport is taking every precaution to keep travelers safe, from requiring masks to socially distanced queues and plexiglass shields.
The airport also has PPE vending machines for travelers with items like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and thermometers.
“Being out at the beach, and not being cooped at home, will be good for the kids. They’ve been home for 8 months now,” said Olga Serdyuk, who says a break from the Columbus surge is the perfect cure.
But health experts fear case numbers could be even worse after they return.
Airport officials recommend that before people head to the airport, they check the airport’s website for tips on how to make traveling a healthy experience.
Some of the recommendations include things like wearing a face covering, using hand sanitizer, and using mobile boarding passes and payment to avoid contact.