By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
During a typical year, many Bend residents would travel to see family during the holiday season.
But Marie Dodds with AAA said data shows 75% of Americans plan to stay home over the holidays due to the pandemic.
“For the holiday season we would be expecting about 35 percent of the population going somewhere for the holidays,” Dodds said. “That’s what we saw last year.”
AAA expects a 29% drop in holiday travel compared to last year.
“For those who do make the personal decision to venture out, the vast majority are going by car,” Dodds said. “A whopping 96% of holiday travelers will drive to their destination.”
Zachary Bass, director of the Redmond Airport, expects about 40 percent of the usual Christmas-time air travel this year.
But all these numbers are estimates. Dodds said many travelers are probably waiting to see what COVID numbers are like next week and will make travel decisions last minute. That’s what AAA saw happen around Thanksgiving.
“People are taken a wait-and-see attitude toward travel over the holidays,” Dodds said.
State and federal health officials recommend postponing travel this year and staying home for the holidays, especially given the recent surge in cases both locally and nation-wide.
“We know the upcoming and current holiday bring potential for increase COVID-19 cases,” Rachael Banks, public health director for the Oregon Health Authority, said. “We feel like with a vaccine here there is light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to keep going.”
If you’re considering traveling, the CDC has a list of things to consider on their website.