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CDC eases travel restrictions, travel officials say a travel boom is expected



SAN ANGELO, TX — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday the traveling public who are fully vaccinated are now in the low-risk category.

This means that those who receive the COVID-19 shot are recommended to wait two weeks before traveling. Currently, authorized vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer require two doses, while Johnson & Johnson offers a one-shot option.

Patricia Mancha of the Transportation Security Administration Texas region says there is a boom in the travel industry and the number of travelers is expected to uptick even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“The month of March saw our biggest increase in travel numbers since the start of the pandemic. So we had over two days of over a million-plus passengers…When you compare it to the same time last year, there were many days in March when we only had about 110,000, 120,000 travelers and that’s nationwide,” Mancha said.

As of Monday, April 5, the TSA reported 1,561,959 traveling passengers who were screened by the TSA. This same time last year TSA reported 108,310 passengers traveling.

Dr. James Vretis, local health authority for Tom Green County, said getting the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the ways we can move forward.

“I think the safest way for us to continue to go forward is to do what we’ve done in the past. You know, wear your mask when you’re around people. The CDC says that it is safe for people who are fully vaccinated to travel. Which is great, but you know, if you’re not fully vaccinated and you’re on a plane bus or whatever, with a lot of people that aren’t vaccinated, you can definitely catch the disease,” Vretis said.

While there is an expected surge in summer travel, Mancha said the San Angelo Regional Airport is preparing accordingly.

“At this point, I really can’t speculate but what I can tell you is that TSA will be prepared to meet the needs of the traveling public,” she said.

For people who are unvaccinated and traveling domestically, the CDC recommends getting a COVID-19 test before and after. If they choose to not get tested, the CDC recommendation is to self-quarantine for seven or 10 days.

Before traveling internationally both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers must receive negative COVID-19 test results. They are also required to take a COVID-19 test three to five days upon returning from an international trip.

However, the CDC is highly encouraging people to stay home and avoid non-essential travel.