Health officials urge travelers to get COVID test before flying

Spiking omicron variant cases across the country have prompted health officials to advise another layer of security ahead of holiday travel.

Less than 48 hours until Christmas Eve and officials at Mineta San Jose International Airport said passenger traffic is up year-to-date.

Health officials recommend passengers take a COVID test before their departure time, even if there’s no hint of illness.

"You can carry the virus even if you’re asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. And so you can carry it and still transmit it to others," said Dr. Marcelle Dougan, a professor in the San Jose State University Department of Public Health & Recreation.

Dougan said the omicron variant is more easily spread, although symptoms aren’t as severe.

President Joe Biden proposed distributing a half-million COVID testing kits to homes across the country. This as Amazon caps the number of kits people can buy because of a shortage.

Travel officials said testing before travel will minimize any negative impacts to the flying public if there’s a surge in positive cases among flyers.

"We certainly recommend that people get tested as close to departure as possible but still with enough time to get the results before they would head to the airport. So hopefully if someone tests positive, they would know in advance," said Scott Wintner, deputy director of Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Some passengers at San Jose airport said they did get tested before their flight.

"Just making sure I’m safe. We're going home for the holidays and I don’t want to risk my family get sick or something," said said Noah Bishop, who was traveling to Southern California to see family.

But some travelers opted against it.

Teacher Pamela Alvarado said, "No, because I get COVID-tested regularly at school. I’m a teacher, and so I’m on top of it."

Dougan said while this latest recommendation is wearing on travelers, it’s designed to get the populous past the worst of the COVID pandemic.

"It’s definitely frustrating, dealing with all of this," she said. "But we just need to do the best we can to protect ourselves, and protect our family members as well."

Officials said if you do get notification of a positive test while at the airport, don’t board your flight. Instead, go home and self-quarantine for seven to 10 days.