With travel surging, the CDC is urging Americans to stay close to home for spring break

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More than 1.5 million travelers passed through TSA checkpoints across the US Sunday, the highest number of airline passengers clearing security since the pandemic began in March of 2020.

Many of those flying are headed to spring break destinations.

Microbiologist Dr. Amber Schmidtke, Ph.D., who writes a newsletter tracking the pandemic in Georgia, says she understands the hunger for travel.

“There’s a reason why the ‘Roaring 20’s’ followed the 1918 pandemic,” Schmidtke says.  “We’re starting to see sort of that pent-up desire for human contact and fun after a really difficult year. But, I think that we’re not there yet.”

While the US is averaging 2.5 million vaccinations a day, and has even topped the 3 million shot mark several times, the country continues to average over 53,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, according to the CDC.

In regions like the Midwest and Northeast, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, says case numbers are once again rising.

“We must act now, and I am worried, if we don’t take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge just as we are seeing in Europe right now, and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccinations,” Dr. Walensky says.

US health officials are pushing hard to vaccinate enough Americans to slow the spread of concerning new strains of the coronavirus, that are more contagious, and, in some cases, more deadly. 

Walensky is concerned says travel could fuel the spread of these new strains.

“We are worried not just about what happens when you are on the airplane itself, but what happens when people travel,” she says.  “That is, they go out, they mix, they mix with people who are not vaccinated.”

If you choose travel over spring break, Schmidtke says, wear a mask, keep your distance from other travelers and stay away from crowds, and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.

If you think you might have been exposed to the virus, she says, get tested anywhere from 4 to 7 days after you return.

“Because, if we do have a situation where you brought something back, we want to know about that sooner than later, so that you can isolate and keep that problem small,” Schmidtke says.

If possible, she says, stay home until you get your test results.

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