Reuters - An american has two Christmas holiday plans with a surge in COVID-19 infections caused by the now-residant Omicron variant forcing people to cancel travel and worry about whether or not it is safe to visit loved ones.
Carmen Rivera and Jasmine Maisonet have made the tough decision to cancel their flights to visit the family of Florida and Puerto Rico after having a cold reaction from an infected co-worker and tested her COVID-19 test, while she was vaccinated and had a booster shot.
Rivera, a newly-elected city council member in Renton, Washington, hasn't seen her family in Puerto Rico since the start of the pandemic. It does not matter if she is on holiday again, Rivera said.
"We thought that we were safe, we were washing our hands, sanitizing, vaccinated, and masking," Rivera said.
The rapid rise in Omicron infections, first detected last month and now accounting for 70% of the U.S.-born cases, has left a chilling concern for holidays. Many Americans flocked to testing sites or scrambled to see their kids under control these week to see their parents.
In the last seven days, the average number of cases in the United States has risen 26% and the number of cases is up 83% since the beginning of the month, according to a Reuters tally.
And Rochelle Walensky, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States, told NBC that the virus posed less threat this year than last year owing to vaccines and a better scientific understanding of the virus.
We have a vaccination and a booster, and we're giving you the best science to prove that prevention, but in those settings, is effective to prevent this virus spread, said she.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden reiterated his pledge to help state citizens in battling the storm. On Tuesday, he outlined a number of options as to provide stockpiled resources and mobilize 1,000 troops to aid healthcare.
He said that the vaccinated people should follow the rules, but feeling comfortable celebrating the holidays and going as planned, given the Omicron wave.
The long-lived Long Island insurance broker Lori Eves considered the risk, and refused to let Omicron ruin his Paris trip with her retired mother this month. The two women had the Versailles Palace almost to themselves on Friday.
"I'm not really worried, the Eves, 42, said as she toured the palace outside the French capital. "We're vaccinated and boosted and we just felt safe."
While only a few days are left before Christmas, the US is waiting for the last minute to decide whether to proceed with their Christmas plans.
Morgan Johnson, an elementary school teacher in Washington, is in Chicago for the week. They're studying the field for a semester and studying for a purpose.
Her grandparents are in their 80s and want the family to visit, said Johnson. But she and her parents, who all are vaccinated, are worried about spreading the variant.
"You'd never forgive yourself for getting your grandparents sick," said Johnson.
TRAVELS ESTIMATES OPTIMISTIC.
Travel companies are betting that vaccinated Americans will follow through on their plans and have retained a rosy outlook for this year's holiday season, riding the momentum from a rebound in the US travel over Thanksgiving.
The American Automobile Association estimates that 109 million Americans will take the road, board a plane or travel more than 50 miles between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 - that's 34% more than 2020.
To be sure, Ellen Edmonds said, that estimate was compiled before Dec. 14 and the recent spike in cases could delay cancellations.
The Transportation Security Administration tracked over two million passengers annually into the nation's airports from the Dec. 16-dec. 20 to the 20. Dec. 20 for a nearly double number of those dates in 2020 and 20 more in 2019.
The company's chief executive on Tuesday reduced recommended quarantine time to fully vaccinated individuals with COVID-19, citing its impact on the company's stretched workforce.
Meanwhile, a combined case of COVID-19 makes New York City sick on Tuesday 7.8% of its force, said the CIX on Wednesday.
CityMD, which operates a chain of medical clinics in New York and elsewhere, said it had to close 19 of its 150 facilities on Wednesday after staff were forced to respond to massive demand for tests in the past week.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state would require healthcare workers and workers in "high-risk congregate settings" to receive a booster by Feb. 1 as part of the state's response to the highly transmitted omicron variant.