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Many Philadelphia International Airport Travelers Not Concerned About COVID Risk Heading Home For Holidays Despite Cases Surging

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel Wednesday ahead of the Christmas holiday. This comes despite health officials telling people to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"My mom would probably kill me if I wasn't home for the holidays," said Ian Cochrane who is flying to Boston. "So, it's for her and my dad as well."

The need to travel home for the holidays comes with added risk as coronavirus cases are surging. However, it's a risk many travelers at Philadelphia International Airport say they aren't concerned about.

"We got a big place rented out that we can all just be there as a family and that's huge. This is huge," said Tom Mauchly who is flying to Colorado.

"It's really awesome that we can go and do that to be with them," said Daniel Mauchly.

After Thanksgiving, there was a surge in positive cases and Philadelphia health officials say it was worse than they were anticipating. They are, once again, urging you not to travel for Christmas.

"We know that's very difficult during the holiday season, it goes against all of our traditions," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. "Don't want to pass on COVID to your grandmother. Don't make that mistake when we are so close to the finish line."

Despite the warnings, airport officials say it will be a busy week. Over the course of the next week, they're expecting 316,000 passengers to pass through Philadelphia International Airport.

Meanwhile, AAA says air travel is down 60% compared to a year ago for the Delaware Valley. However, the number of travelers is increasing compared to the start of the pandemic.

"Nobody likes to be told to stay put. People like to move and explore, that's what we're comfortable with doing. People want to return to travel," said AAA Philadelphia spokeswoman Jana Tidwell.

According to AAA's holiday travel forecast, people are taking a wait-and-see approach to traveling. They say it's directly linked to the surge in coronavirus cases.

"As soon as people feel safe again and it's safe to take their families out and about, whether that's a vaccine or increased mitigation efforts, people will return to travel," Tidwell said. "It's just what we do."


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