People still traveling for holidays despite COVID-19 spike

When it comes to the health warnings urging people not to travel right now, many are following the advice, but some are not.

Officials at Oakland International Airport said passenger counts are about to rise.

"This Thanksgiving week we're expecting to be the biggest stretch since the pandemic began," said airport spokesman Robert Bernardo.

Oakland is expecting about 100,000 travelers during Thanksgiving week. That's up from an average of about 90,000 passengers a week last month.

"With leisure travel, a lot of people are still excited about traveling to see family and friends during the Thanksgiving holiday season," Bernardo said.

While travel still projects to be about a third of last Thanksgiving, it is far more than what doctors want to see as COVID-19 infection rates begin to skyrocket. 

"When the rate is higher and you have more people congregating at the airport, it kind of scares me a little bit," said Dr. Ronn Berrol, medical director of the Emergency Department at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland. 

He said hospitals could see the effects of traveling and family gatherings in the weeks after Thanksgiving.

"People are going to be laughing, taking their masks off, having a good time. That's exactly the sort of environment where COVID spreads."

Mineta San Jose Airport and SFO expect to have a quarter of the travelers as usual.

SFO is anticipating only a slight uptick over Thanksgiving to perhaps 20,000 passengers a day. Up until now, it's been around 15-18,000 per day. 

"The fact that cases are rapidly growing in many parts of the U.S. And you have to factor in the quarantine requirements which are a deterrent as well," said SFO spokesman Doug Yakel.

If people do insist on family gatherings, doctors advise opening windows for good airflow.

They also said a good family walk can be just as fulfilling as a good family dinner and a lot less risky.