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Are you traveling for Christmas? Here’s what you need to know

The coronavirus pandemic is still happening. Here’s what you need to know about traveling for the holidays.

In this Monday Dec. 21 2020 file photo a hand sanitizing pump stands in the middle of a near empty departure terminal as few passengers board and Air France flight to Paris at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport.
In this Monday Dec. 21 2020, file photo, a hand sanitizing pump stands in the middle of a near empty departure terminal as few passengers board and Air France flight to Paris at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport.
Jerome Delay, Associated Press

More than 2 million people have passed through security checkpoints over the last few days, a sign that holiday travel hasn’t stopped during the coronavirus pandemic.

About 1.07 million travelers passed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints last weekend, which was about one week before Christmas.

Sure, those numbers are 60% lower than in 2019. But that’s higher than normal as far as coronavirus pandemic statistics are concerned, according to NPR.

The TSA has expected passenger volume to increase, which is why the agency has called on people to visit airports early.

  • “COVID-19 has affected staffing and operations across the airport environment, so extra time will keep your stress level low,” the agency said.

Though public health officials warn against traveling, we’ve decided to put together a little question-and-answer about what you need to know if you’re willing to travel for Christmas.

Should you travel for the holidays?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend Americans travel during the winter holidays. In fact, the CDC calls for staying home.

  • The safest way to celebrate winter holidays is at home with the people who live with you. Travel and gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase your chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.”

Traveling might increase your chances of getting or spreading COVID-19. The CDC asks for people to consider if someone has increased risk where they’re traveling, or if there are high case numbers at the destination.

Should you get tested before you go?

Barbara Ferrer, the Los Angeles County public health director, recently warned people that a negative COVID-19 test doesn’t justify traveling for Thanksgiving.

  • “By the time you get a negative test result, you may no longer be negative,” Barbara Ferrer said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “And even if you have no symptoms, you can easily infect others.”

What happens after you get home?

If you do travel, there are some recommendations for what you should do once you get home.

  • For example, several states call for people to quarantine for 14 days after traveling around the country.

You can also get tested if you need a negative test result to return to work or to visit another state. Some areas may not test you if you don’t have symptoms.

What if you were exposed?

The CDC recommends people who were exposed to the virus stay home for 10 to 14 days from when they had their last contact with someone who had COVID-19.

  • People should also keep an eye out for COVID-19 symptoms and consider getting tested for COVID-19.
  • The CDC recommends people don’t travel for 14 days after they were last exposed.