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Travel Safety On The Minds Of Many As COVID-19 Threatens To Wreak Havoc On Airlines For Christmas

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New York state saw a jump of 10,000 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, as it hit another single-day record high since the pandemic started.

With the increase in positive cases has come more issues. The latest, air travel.

And with Christmas Eve on Friday, it couldn't have come at a worse time, CBS2's Jessica Layton reported.

As of 11 p.m., United Airlines and Delta Air Lines had reported a combined 230 flight cancellations on Friday. The airlines said they were forced into the drastic action because staff members had either called out sick due to COVID or had been exposed to someone infected.


Traveling safely is taking on more meaning, but even as the Omicron variant surges in the pandemic, airports and rest stop parking lots are packed.

One Virginia couple making their way to Massachusetts told Layton they are approaching Christmas with caution -- just immediate family this year.

"We have been testing once every day for the past five days. We're both vaccinated and boosted, so I feel good I guess," Allison Koury said.

"If you feel like something is not gonna be safe you should definitely not do it," Alex Lange added.

READ MORECOVID-19 Omicron Variant Fact Or Fiction: CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez Has Answers To Common Questions

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. John Lapook says gathering safely starts with a clear COVID protocol.

"That means being up front, absolutely honest about peoples' vaccination status, potential exposure to the virus over the previous week or so, and then you can decide are you comfortable with the risk," Lapook said.


On the night before Christmas Eve, the city of Paterson gifted hundreds of people a free COVID test. Some sisters got showed up and hour and a half early to be first in line.

"Not feeling well and it's Christmas. You don't want to pass it to anybody else," one said.

"Just to make sure that we're tested and we're not spreading anything," Aleanny Martinez added.

No matter the result, they know celebrations won't feel as festive this year.

"Some people won't wanna go. Some people cancel. So it won't be the same as before, past years," one sister said.

"A little bit more lonely, not as much Christmas spirit," Martinez said.

READ MORENew York City Hands Out COVID Test Kits As New Yorkers Scramble For Holiday Safety

Finding out if you're healthy for the holiday hasn't been easy.

"I've been trying to get a test for two days," Fordham University student Kayla Joyner said.

On Thursday in New York, city officials handed out 2,000 free at-home rapid tests in each borough.

"It's a holiday present in the sense that we can spend time with friends and family now, hopefully safely," one person said.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

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