Infectious disease doctor: ‘Testing should not be your rule of thumb to travel’

CDC discourages Thanksgiving travel

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation not to travel this Thanksgiving due to the coronavirus, some people are hitting the roads or catching a flight to spend the holiday with their loved ones.

There was a steady flow of people Sunday at Jacksonville International Airport.

“I haven’t traveled since the pandemic started,” said traveler Samir Washignton. “It’s kind of risky.”

But Washington said he wanted to see his father for Thanksgiving.

“COVID is always on my mind,” he said. “I always try to find a way to be safe.”

Richard Mooris will be home for the holidays. Mooris lives in Live Oak and had just gotten off a plane from Pittsburgh when he spoke with News4Jax.

“My experience was good. They had everything clean. They had everybody separated. Everybody has masks on. Everybody was following the rules and doing good,” Mooris said.

His son, Braxley, was excited to have his father home for Thanksgiving.

“I am going to play games and be thankful I have a dad,” he said.

Another family flew in from Boston to visit their grandparents.

“Like why are we doing this knowing this is probably not the best thing to do?” one of the family members said.

RELATED: CDC pleads with Americans to avoid Thanksgiving travel

According to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, thousands of people are traveling throughout JIA. On Sunday, 4,100 people passed through Jacksonville. On Saturday, 2,700 passed through. And on Friday, 4,200 passed through.

The family who News4Jax spoke with said they’re concerned about COVID-19, but they plan on getting tested as soon as they return.

But Dr. Mohammed Reza, an infectious disease physician with CAN Community Health Jacksonville, said: “If you’re going to travel, that testing should not be your rule of thumb to travel and see older patients because all these tests are not 100%.”

Reza said that the right time to get tested is not immediately after you might have been exposed, but to “give it at least five to seven days.”

“That’s the thing, from the testing, Zac, it doesn’t make sense if you’re going to be traveling,” Reza said. “The only way this would make sense if you got tested today and you weren’t interacting with anyone else for the next 14 days, and your test comes back negative and you’re not interacting with anyone else.”

Reza is urging people who are on the fence about traveling this holiday season to stay home so older loved ones will be around for the holidays next year.

“My biggest concern is we are seeing it across the country -- the rate of infection going up in our communities,” Reza said. “The other big concern is this is a tricky, tricky, virus. Forty percent of people do not have symptoms of this virus.”

Reza predicts that with the change in temperature and the number of people traveling, there will be an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout Florida. He said that right now, Florida has four to six weeks to plan, as it’s already happening in northern states.

Also, the state’s COVID-19 testing site at the Regency Square Mall will be closed on Thanksgiving. If you hope to be tested for COVID-19 this week, make sure the site you plan on going to is open ahead of time.

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