Daniel Manriquez donned a Christmas sweater and reindeer hat at DFW Airport Monday. He was dressed for the occasion before traveling to see family.
“Well, you know, after last year you kind of have to go overboard, right?” said Manriquez.
He said he’s already missed too much time away from his niece and nephew. He’s aware COVID-19 cases are on the rise again with the omicron variant spreading rapidly. With that information, he weighed the option of staying home.
“There was a little hesitation,” Manriquez said. “Honestly, we feel like we’re trying to sneak in under the window before omicron gets bad.”
Experts suspect it’s already heading in that direction. The latest data from UT Southwestern Medical Center shows hospitalizations in Dallas have increased by 6% over the past two weeks. In Tarrant County, a 13% increase in the last two weeks.
Dr. Stephen Love of the DFW Hospital Council says we should be warned about the weeks ahead. Already, he said there are roughly 810 COVID-19 patients in North Texas hospitals, and the number is gradually increasing.
“Now we’ve got holidays. People are going to travel. People are unvaccinated. We’re very concerned about omicron, what is going to happen in the next 2-3 weeks,” said Love.
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Manriquez said his family agreed on protocol before meeting up. Everyone committed to testing right before traveling and wearing an N95 mask while inside the airport and on airplanes.
Shawnte Bronson was traveling to North Carolina on Monday. She said she is vaccinated but doesn’t plan to test regularly while away.
“I’ve already had both shots and I went and got the booster shot last week, so that makes me feel a little bit more comfortable,” she said.
If busy ticket counters are any indication, omicron isn’t slowing people’s plans. AAA predicts more than 109 million Americans will travel for the holidays this year. That’s a nearly 34% increase from 2020.
For information on COVID-19 and holiday travel guidance visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html