RICHMOND, Va. -- Thursday is forecast to be one of the busiest travel days of the holiday season with millions traveling by plane, train or car as COVID-19 cases continue to climb.
Crowds ebbed and flowed at Richmond International Airport.
"I live in San Diego, California, and that's where I'm flying," Mosheeka Fields said.
Airport officials expected around up to 14,000 flyers Thursday, but said they have already seen days this week reach 15,000.
While on the roads, AAA officials predicted Thursday afternoon will be among the busiest for drivers.
Regardless of how folks are traveling, officials estimated more than 109-million people are going somewhere, which is an increase of over 33% from last year.
"That tells us we're bouncing back close to what we saw before the pandemic, but not quite there. But much higher numbers than last year for sure," Morgan Dean, a spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said.
But as travel increases, so do cases of COVID-19 as the highly-contagious omicron variant is now the dominant strain in the U.S. As a result, health officials are urging those gathering for the holidays to take precautions.
"As soon as I land I plan on getting tested, so, yeah, because it's very scary," Fields said. "We had it before so I know how it is."
Richmond and Henrico Health Districts Deputy Director Dr. Melissa Viray said having the gatherings outdoors or in well-ventilated areas.
Additionally, Viray said mainstays like hand washing, social distancing and masking are key in slowing the spread.
"Especially if you're going to be around someone who's unvaccinated or someone who is older or has a medical issue that may mean that they may not respond as well to vaccination," Viray said.
Once the gatherings are over, Viray recommended getting tested five to seven days afterwards and to monitor for symptoms.
"Do I feel, you know, am I feeling healthy. And if you're not, even if it hasn't been five to seven days, go ahead and get tested then, too," Viray said.
Richmond and Henrico Health Districts will be hosting two walk-up COVID-19 testing events next week:
- Tuesday, 12/28, 9am-11am , Second Baptist Church, 3300 Broad Rock Blvd
- Wednesday, 12/29, 9am-11am, Eastern Henrico Rec Center Ballroom, 1440 N Laburnum Ave