Millions of Americans Plan to Travel for Christmas and New Years, Motivated by Lower Gas Prices Due to COVID-19

Dr. Anthony Fauci may break with tradition by not spending Christmas with his children, but millions of Americans are not following his example.

Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, earlier this month told CBS News that he would not be spending Christmas holidays with his daughters “for the first time in more than 30 years.”

His comments came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans not to travel for Hanukkah and Christmas amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.

While fewer people plan to hit the road or fly through the skies in the name of Christmas cheer, millions are still planning to travel. About 84.5 million Americans are expected to travel from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, according to a report by AAA, formerly known as the American Automobile Association. That’s 34 million fewer travelers than last year.

The vast majority plan to drive (81.1 million) rather than fly (2.94 million) or take another form of transit such as bus, train or cruise (480,000), AAA reported.

A separate GasBuddy survey found that more than a third of Americans plan to travel by car this Christmas season, although people’s propensity to travel varies by region. People from the Northeast are less likely to hit the road on vacation, while people from the Rocky Mountain states are more likely to do so.

“Many Americans have deep-rooted traditions for the holiday and are unwilling to let it slip away like the rest of the year,” Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s chief oil analyst, said in the report. “We expect to see increased driving activity in some of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus.”

And if Thanksgiving is any indication, these vacation travel estimates likely work. More than 4 million people across the country left their homes by Thanksgiving, including more than 1.6 million who traveled out of state, according to data shared with CNN by the Center for New Data, a nonprofit organization. profit. Other data suggests that up to 50 million people visited friends and family for Thanksgiving.

Ironically, those who decide to take a road trip to close 2020 will spend less to do so than in previous years. GasBuddy projects that the median price per gallon of gasoline this Christmas season will be $ 2.19, the lowest since 2015. Gasoline prices have fallen amid reduced travel and economic complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic. .

We expect to see increased driving activity in some of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus.

– Patrick De Haan, Head of Oil Analysis at GasBuddy

All the travel associated with the end of the year holidays is stoking concerns about an increase in COVID-19 cases at a time when case counts across the country are breaking records.

The United States passed another grim COVID-19 milestone of 18 million on Tuesday as the number of new cases and daily deaths rose again after a brief period of declines. Since the pandemic began, COVID-19 has contributed to the deaths of more than 321,301 Americans.

The CDC recommends that those traveling during the December vacation should be tested for COVID-19 one to three days before their trip, and then retested three to five days after their return.

Those who do not want to be tested are advised to avoid non-essential activities for 10 days after their trips. Other health experts have previously recommended self-isolation for as long as possible before traveling and continue to participate in safety protocols when visiting loved ones, such as social distancing and wearing masks.

And it’s worth remembering that you can test negative for COVID-19 and still be infected and contagious, given the virus’s incubation period of 2-14 days. Anyone who has come into contact with someone infected with the new coronavirus is asked to self-quarantine for 10 days, or seven days after a negative COVID test.

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