**FILE PHOTO** Courtesy of tsa.gov
**FILE PHOTO** Courtesy of tsa.gov

AAA has projected that the number of Americans who will travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend will increase by more than 12% in states like Maryland, equating to almost 1.1 million people – still down more than seven percent before pre-pandemic travelers in 2019.

And the majority of those travelers will be driving to their destinations.

After nearly two years of being prohibited from celebrating with friends and family in ways to which we’ve long grown accustomed, it’s understandable that many of us may throw caution to the wind and make our way “through the woods to grandmother’s house.”

But should we?

In a recent poll, AAA found that just 10% felt traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday poses a “significant risk for COVID-19.” In comparison, more than 43% felt the same last year.

However, those who are prudent know not to look forward and completely return to pre-pandemic traditions as if COVID-19 were not looming over our shoulders in our rearview mirror.

Even if you do decide to take that drive, you’ll need to have more money in your pockets as the price of gasoline has risen to levels not seen this time of year since 2013.

But the biggest concern for Americans as the holiday travel season approaches should be the fact that coronavirus infections are rising in more than half of all states.

Experts predict this could be the beginning of an extended winter surge. After the number of cases declined steadily from mid-September to late October, the U.S. is now averaging more than 83,000 cases a day – a 14% increase compared to one week ago.

The uptick in cases has not yet translated into a national spike in new hospital admissions but the grim situation in some parts of the West and upper Midwest offers a disturbing picture for other states where cases are now climbing. However, despite the disconcerting trends, experts who trace the course of the pandemic do not believe the surge will yield the same level of death and severe disease as last year.

But that’s only a prediction.

So while you are celebrating Thanksgiving and looking forward to Christmas and the new year, be safe, be smart and remain on guard.

COVID-19 is still very much a threat to all of us.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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