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'Right Now, I'm Scared': Health Officials Warn Of Potential COVID Surge As Travel Increases

BURBANK (CBSLA) — With more people traveling across the country, federal and local health authorities are warning another COVID-19 surge could be on the horizon.

Travelers check-in for Air France and KLM flights at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) amidst travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on February 4, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

It's why health officials have asked everyone to follow coronavirus protocols when traveling or gathering during spring break and the Easter holiday.

Matthew Coleman and his family are among those who flew to the L.A. area to celebrate Passover this year.

"It was a smaller gathering than normal, but it was still important," he said. "We went to see my father-in-law, so it was a smaller gathering, but it was still fun and we enjoyed ourselves."

Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Monday it was important for people to remember that travel and gathering in-person with people increases the risk of getting and spreading coronavirus.

And while case numbers have decreased in L.A. County, transmission remains widespread and has started to once again increase in other states and countries.

"If you want to have a spring break, you can do it responsibly," Cameron Campos, a traveler, said. "I've seen on the news in Miami, it's been a little crazy and a little wild. You have to realize that your decisions are going to impact others around you long-term, short-term, you never know."

"I came and visited my boyfriend," Victoria Thielen, a traveler, said. "Even though he lives around L.A., we didn't go anywhere. We just went to the beaches, stayed outside, did stuff that wasn't really around other people."

And on Monday, Rochelle Walenskey, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the trajectory of the pandemic in the U.S. looked similar to countries in Europe currently experiencing a concerning spike in cases.

"I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," she said. "We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope, but right now, I'm scared."

She said recent reopening plans and the relaxation of restrictions while new case numbers remain high and variants continue to spread were a threat to the country's progress.

"We actually have it in our power to be done with the scale of the vaccination, and that will be so much slower if we have another surge to deal with as well," she said.

"Anything can happen, but vaccinations are increasing, and so we're excited," Coleman said.

Also on Monday, L.A. County reported 378 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven new deaths, bringing countywide totals to 1,218,583 cases and 23,084 deaths. Health officials said the lower numbers may reflect reporting delays over the weekend and holiday.

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