TAMPA, Fla. - The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is back. Last year, many people put their trips and vacations on hold because of the pandemic, but with nearly 28 million more people expected to travel this Christmas compared to last, airports and highways will be busy.
AAA predicts that more than 109 million Americans will be traveling over the holiday. Local officials have words of caution to travelers taking to both the sky and the roads.
With the omicron variant spreading rapidly across the country, health experts have their concerns, especially for those who will be flying to their destinations.
"They went from about 1900 cases a day reported to over 6,800 cases a day reported," said Dr. Thomas Unnasch with USF Health.
Dr. Unnash told FOX 13 that the highly transmissible variant is extremely contagious. That's why he says travelers need to take precautions.
"I think the combination of a defense in depth, right? Vaccine and wearing that mask," said Dr. Unnasch.
But from the skies to the streets, the roads are expected to be busy too, and law enforcement wants to remind drivers to use common sense.
"When you're out there on highways, put the phone downs, pay attention, don't drive distracted, make sure everyone's buckled up," said Sgt. Steve Gaskins with the Florida Highway Patrol.
On Saturday, Pinellas County law enforcement agencies joined together ahead of the holiday to make sure drivers were following the rules of the road. Nearly 200 citations were issued, and 25 DUI charges were filed. Not exactly the Christmas gift they'd like to give out.
"As you plan your events, make sure you have a designated driver, use your ride-sharing opportunities," said Sgt. Gaskins. "Party or enjoy your festivities at home or somewhere where you don't have to mix it with the driving itself."
As families make up for lost time following a holiday season away from loved ones, officials are reminding travelers to be vigilant with both their health and safety.
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