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COVID cases expected to rise after holiday travel

Posted at 6:32 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 19:33:00-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Before Thanksgiving health officials urged people not to travel as it would likely cause spread of the coronavirus. Despite doctors' concerns, TSA recorded a record number of people who flew throughout the United States since the beginning of the pandemic.

Over one million people traveled on the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after.

"We know that people were advised not to travel during the holiday weekend but all the reports locally and nationally show that people did travel over the holiday weekend. That means they were exposed to folks from outside of their household and that increases the likelihood of COVID-19 being passed around," said Phil Rooney, Resource Specialist at the Douglas County Health Department.

All of this holiday travel will be reflected in the coronavirus cases reported in the next few weeks.

"I think that here within the next day or two we’ll start to see some rebound because of the folks who didn’t want to get tested over Thanksgiving but do have symptoms and are now going to come to the diagnosis now that we’ve gotten through the holiday weekend. But I fully expect that due to travel, due to all the gatherings associated with Thanksgiving, that again, somewhere in the neighborhood of two to three weeks down the road, there will be a spike in cases," said Dr. Mark Rupp, Professor and Chief of infectious diseases at Nebraska Medical Center.

Health officials advise those who traveled or gathered with people from outside their household to watch closely for symptoms. They also advise to get tested.

"The incubation for this is up to 14 days. It can be as short as 1 or 2 days, typically it’s about 5 to 6 days so people need to be very, very careful during that initial week. Be watching very closely for any onset of symptoms, cough, shortness of breathe, fevers, muscle aches, headaches, sometimes diarrhea," Dr. Rupp said.

While he suggests getting tested around that 5-to-7 day mark after traveling, symptoms can start to show up to 14 days. An initial negative test doesn't mean you're completely free of the virus.

"A negative test doesn’t mean you’re completely clear either because it does take time, it’s only a snapshot. A negative test is a snapshot of where you were at that point and depending on how big of an exposure you had, what type of viral load it may have, it could be a couple more days before you’ll be knowing if you have it or not," Rooney said.

Dr. Rupp said we need to be careful these next few months and try to eliminate spread as much as possible. Rooney discourages large gatherings and further travel for the rest of the holiday season.