SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – As many as 50 million Americans are estimated to have traveled for Thanksgiving despite increased cases of COVID-19 and repeated warnings from public health officials to stay home.
2020 has been a year of cancelled plans. But for many at San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday, COVID-19 won’t stop them from heading home for the holidays.
“We’re heading to Salt Lake City, Utah,” Madison Snow told KPIX 5 while waiting at the security line.
“As long as everyone does their duty and wears a mask, it feels okay,” she added.
Millions of Californians will continue to travel despite the state recording more than 1 million cases, a travel advisory for everyone in Purple Tier counties, which covers most of the state, and a strong urging from the Centers for Disease Control to stay home.
Oakland International Airport predicted between 7,000 and 8,000 travelers flew through its airport Wednesday, while another 6,000 were expected at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Freeways were also packed, with 92% of Californians expected to take a road trip this week. Though AAA reports a 13% decline in drivers on the roads compared to this time last year.
“AAA of Northern California is forecasting 6.2 million Californians will travel and that’s compared to 7.2 million from last year,” Sergio Avila with AAA of Northern California said.
“At the end of the day, we got to live our lives. And I’ll be as safe as possible, wear a mask all the time, wash my hands,” Matt Holmes said prior to boarding a flight bound for LAX.
For some the decision to travel is bigger than the pandemic.
“We were visiting with my wife’s brother, who has terminal cancer and he wanted to go to Mexico and enjoy some warm weather before he died,” Steve Mchaney said.
As always, the holiday season is a time for hope, many are hoping Christmas will come early, in the form of a vaccine.
“I’m hoping things get better with prospective release of vaccine December 10th so maybe Christmas travel will be a lot safer,” Jonathan York said prior to boarding a flight to Seattle.
Experts say for those who do choose to travel to make sure to research your end destination so you know what their case count looks like and determine if you need to quarantine when you arrive.