Despite pandemic warnings, millions will travel for Thanksgiving

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Steve Marcus

A sign reminds passengers of social distancing by a security checkpoint at McCarran International Airport Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

Wed, Nov 25, 2020 (2 a.m.)

Callie Adamson of Henderson normally travels for Thanksgiving. Not this year.

Because of the pandemic, she’ll be spending a quiet holiday at home, said Adamson, who has watched the virus surge in Nevada and had a friend recently test positive.

“I wouldn’t want to risk spreading it to my family,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people celebrate the holiday at home with members of their household.

But the AAA motor club expects some 50 million Americas to travel — 95% of them by car — for Thanksgiving gatherings this year, down about 10% from 2019.

Fewer people are expected to pass through McCarran International Airport this Thanksgiving, spokesman Joe Rajchel said.

Last November, about 4.2 million passengers traveled through McCarran. Rajchel did not have a projection for this year’s number.

Jon Snow, a real estate professional who lives in New Mexico and has investment properties in the Las Vegas area, plans to head to Minnesota this week.

“I’m not going to stop living my life because of the pandemic,” Snow said. “I’m not going to just stay in my basement. I take the proper precautions — I wear a mask out of respect for people — but I’m still going to make my own decisions.”

Those flying for the first time since the pandemic will notice some changes, such as the mandatory wearing of masks and social distancing protocols.

“It’s going to be different for some,” Rajchel said. “It’s also important for people to research and know the policies for the states and cities that they’re traveling to.”

Airlines have their own policies, too. Some don’t allow certain types of masks and have different policies on keeping center seats open.

In an update to its holiday travel guidance last week, the U.S. Travel Association urged people to take safety regulations seriously.

“It is extremely important to not become complacent about our health and safety practices,” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the association, said in a statement. “If we do, the longer this pandemic will go on.”

On Monday, Nevada health officials said the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 during the previous 14 days doubled since mid-October, from 8.2% to 16.7%.

Statewide, more than 139,000 people have tested positive for the virus, which has been responsible for 2,047 deaths.

Nationwide, more than 12 million cases of the virus have been reported this year, with more than 250,000 related deaths.

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