Health officials warn holiday travel could further increase COVID-19 numbers


HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Department of Health is reporting 3,242 additional cases of COVID-19 and 50 new patients hospitalized due to the coronavirus.

While part of this spike can be attributed to a data backlog from the weekend, the increase in numbers is still a concern for health officials.

The lure of sweet yams and gravy is strong this time of year, but health officials are urging you to put your health and your family’s health first when making holiday plans.

“The recommendation is that you stay with those who are in your household,” said Dr. Lauren James with the Portsmouth Health District.

She said that recommendation comes straight from the CDC as families make plans for the holiday travel.

Nationwide, coronavirus cases continue to rise, now nearing 200,000 new cases daily. In North Carolina and Virginia, we’ve recently seen a record number of new cases.

As of Monday morning, Nov. 23, Virginia has an overall number of 221,038 coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak.

In Portsmouth alone, there are 24 new cases as of Monday.

“Typically, we’ve been ranging from 12-14 cases a day, so this is a bump for us,” said James.

So, when plans for travel come up, James like many other health officials, is worried spreading could occur.

“If someone is traveling from a different community or household, a different city or state, they could be increasing the possibility of transmitting that to you specifically with those over the age of 65,” she said.

A big question is, what if you get tested before you go? Well, that’s not always a 100% certain way to confirm you’ll be safe.

“If you get a test and results aren’t back before you plan to travel or arrive to someone’s home, we would recommend you not go if you don’t want to go to their house with that still pending and then afterwards [if you test positive] have to inform everyone at that event,” James explained.

And health experts say because of the incubation period for COVID-19, waiting it out for 10 to 14 days is still your best bet.

“You should complete that full 10 days wearing a mask, hand washing, isolating at home as much as possible, whether or not you have symptoms or not, cause that goes back to asymptomatic spreaders,” she said.

She says the numbers and preventative measures are not meant to scare you, but instead encourage you to look out for yourself and others even if it means missing out on a tradition this year.

“I think we’re just people are very habit-based and we’ve already sacrificed so much. But I think everyone agrees that you don’t want the ultimate sacrifice to be someone you care about [and] their health. So it’s just another sacrifice we are making for the greater good and to keep those we care about safe,” she said.

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