Fewer Virginians expected to drive, fly this Thanksgiving

Posted at 10:08 PM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 00:27:15-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Fewer drivers are expected to travel during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.

Those who decide to travel by car are likely to drive shorter distances and reduce the number of days they are away.

Last month, AAA projected an estimated 1.32 million Virginians would be hitting the road this Thanksgiving week compared to 1.37 million in 2019.

Now, after a surge in COVID-19 cases, that number is expected to drop.

“We’re just going to stay home,” said Laqune Corprew of Norfolk.

Corprew canceled her plans to drive to New York City with the family after the CDC last week urged Americans not to travel this Thanksgiving, but to stay home and celebrate with people you live with.

“I was going to take them to see the Macy’s parade, but because of COVID I canceled the Airbnb,” said Corprew. “We think it’s just safer to stay with us, just us.”

Others, like Samuel Leggett of Virginia Beach, are not changing their holiday plans.

For Thanksgiving, Leggett will be gathering with friends, and next month, he’ll be flying out of town.

“For Christmas, I’m going up to New Hampshire to visit my family and spend time with them in close proximity,” he said.

Leggett said he isn’t concerned about possible exposure to the virus.

“I have my mask; I keep it,” he said. “If somebody expects me to wear it, I wear it. If nobody is saying anything, I don’t wear it.”

Air travel is also down this Thanksgiving. AAA expects 60,000 Virginians to hit the skies this week compared to 113,000 last year.

Roberto Louis flew in Monday from Boston, where he’s going to college.

“I’m used to it,” said Louis. “This is the second time I’ve traveled when the COVID had started.”

The 20-year-old said he recently took a COVID-19 test that came back negative and is taking other precautions before heading to Onancock in Accomack County to gather with family.

"They're not worried. They’re not worried,” Louis said. “I got my mask on, so I’m COVID-free.”

Amtrak is also taking a hit. In a statement, a spokesperson said ridership during their Thanksgiving travel period is down 80% nationwide.

“Typically, we experience our greatest demand of the year at this time,” said Amtrak Corporate Communications Kimberly Woods. “Our ridership across the national network is currently about 20% of where we were last year over the Thanksgiving travel period. This year our key priority is providing the safest transportation experience possible, ensuring passengers and customers are following our mask requirement, and we continue to deliver on our new standard of travel.”
Many changing Thanksgiving plans due to COVID-19, CDC warning