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Students contemplate traveling for holiday break amid rising COVID-19 cases

The new Salt Lake City airport sits quietly with few-to-no visitors ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday Nov. 12. Despite the risk, millions of Americans are continuing with travel plans ahead of Thanksgiving weekend. As a result, airports across the country are implementing increased health precautions to curb the spread. (Emerson Fratzke)

After classes moved online for the Fall semester, some students at Westminster College had the opportunity to go home early for the Thanksgiving break. But with COVID-19 precautions and increasing cases across the country, many out-of-state students are worried about flying home and risking the spread of the virus.

Despite the risk, millions of Americans are continuing with travel plans ahead of Thanksgiving weekend — in defiance of warnings from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, airports across the country are implementing increased health precautions to curb the spread.  

For those who do travel, the CDC recommends those who don’t live in the same household to quarantine for 14 days before interacting with others. 

This is in line with guidelines from Gov. Gary Herbert who advises Utahns not to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with those who live outside one’s household. These recommendations come after the governor ended his statewide ban on inter-household gatherings. 

“What you do in the confines of our own home is going to be up to you,” Herbert said during his monthly news conference. “But we also are giving strong recommendations of how you conduct that in a safe environment.”

With these new restrictions in Utah — and across the U.S. — several Westminster students are torn on whether to return home for the break. 

“I am not going home for Thanksgiving but I plan to fly home for Christmas, while I am worried about any travel during the pandemic,” said Ella Brisson, a senior aviation major. “My family is very involved in the airlines and I’m comforted by all the protocols and policies they have currently in place.” 

Others who plan to return home said they plan to get tested first, to be safe. 

“I am a little worried about getting tested before I leave, but I am going to quarantine until I get a COVID test once I am home for Christmas break,” said Tori Crittenden, a sophomore at Westminster. “I am worried about getting the virus and spreading it, so I am getting the test to be safe.” 

For students who plan to return home, many say they are taking individual precautions to stay safe. 

“I am driving home which makes me feel safer, but I do worry about stopping at gas stations,” said Brynn Sayler, a junior at Westminster. “So, I will carry hand sanitizer with me and wear a mask whenever I get out of my car.”

Whether you’re traveling or staying put, be sure to stay safe as this time of year many are traveling, shopping and getting ready for the holiday season. 

Students who have questions on the CDC guidelines can visit the CDC’s website to easily stay up to date. 

The Forum encourages everyone to stay safe during this unique holiday season and reminds you to wear a mask.

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Emerson Fratzke
Emerson Fratzke is a senior communication major studying at Westminster College. She is excited to be working with The Forum, and getting real life experience. When she is not working with The Forum you can easily find her at any plant store, or home watering the many plants she already has.

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