With Thanksgiving fast approaching it has been estimated around 50 million Americans will ignore all covid-19 warnings and spend the day with their family and friends, or so the American Automobile Association (AAA) believes.
Although the number is still high it is important to note that it is 10 percent less than 2019 and is the biggest decline since the global financial crisis of 2008.
A report from AAA, who put together their predictions with HIS Markit, has found that many will continue to travel over the five day holiday period – between Wednesday November 25 and Sunday November 29 – to see family and friends that many will be seeing for the first time this year due to on-going restrictions.
However these predictions could vary depending on whether the current confirmed cases of coronavirus continues to increase across the country. The highest daily figures in a 24 hour period were recorded this week with 161,541 new infections and 1,457 coronavirus related deaths. These figures are expected to continue to increase over the next few weeks.
Discussing their report, a spokesperson for AAA said, “Based on mid-October forecast models, AAA would have expected up to 50 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving – a drop from 55 million in 2019.
“However, as the holiday approaches and Americans monitor the public health landscape, including rising Covid-19 positive case numbers, renewed quarantine restrictions and CDC travel health notices, AAA expects that the actual number of holiday travelers will be even lower.”
Senior vice president of AAA Travel, Paula Twidale, said that although the holidays were soon many people were still deciding whether they should travel or not. “The wait-and-see travel trend continues to impact final travel decisions, especially for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“The decision to travel is a personal one. For those who are considering making a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the flexibility to modify holiday travel plans up until the day of departure.”
The report states that 95 percent of travelers, around 47.8 million, will be opting to drive to their destinations after public health experts confirmed that it was a safer way to travel than flying, by train or bus. However driving is not completely safe so drivers are being advised to take their own food and drink with them to reduce the number of stops that would need to be taken.
In contrast, commercial air travel will continue to suffer with only 2.4 million passengers forecast to fly to their Thanksgiving dinners, the biggest one-year drop on record, despite airfares being at their cheapest in the last three years.
Airlines are one of the sectors that have suffered heavily from the pandemic and are trying to remain optimistic that there will be some people who want to get to their destinations quickly this holiday.
As well as American Airlines adding an extra 500 flights each day and United Airlines adding a further 1,400 flights, all airlines are going above and beyond to show potential passengers that flying is safe, highlighting all the procedures that have been put in place.
However the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are advising against traveling for Thanksgiving or even meeting up with family and friends that live nearby, stating that ‘small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in Covid-19 cases.”
Tom Frieden, a former director at CDC commented, “When people get together indoors, eating, drinking, talking, shouting, singing, that’s unfortunately how to spread a lot of Covid, especially when people are traveling around.
“Please be more careful around Thanksgiving so that we can have a merry Christmas, otherwise there’s a real chance that we’re going to see explosive spread of COVID throughout December as a result of the Thanksgiving holidays.”
The CDC has recommended that the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to only hold small gatherings – preferably outside – as well as keeping away from small spaces. They have also recommended wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and getting a flu shot if possible.
Meanwhile Dr Anthony Fauci has confirmed he will only be holding a ‘very, very closed family type of thing’, without his daughters as they live in ‘disparate parts of the country’ where the levels of infections are high.
Fauci said, “We would love for them to come home for Thanksgiving. They have said themselves: “Dad, you know you’re a young, vigorous guy, but you’re 79 years old.”‘
He continued, “I’m not going to criticize people who do it differently, but look at the individual situation in your own family and make a decision that way.”
In Chicago the mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has imposed a 30-day stay-at-home order and has said that groups should not be indoors, even for Thanksgiving. Meanwhile New York governor Andrew Cuomo said, “If you are asking for my advice, I have said publicly that my personal advice is you don’t have family gatherings, even for Thanksgiving.”