Thousands pass through RDU during holidays as officials warn travel could worsen pandemic

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Despite advice from the Centers for Disease Control to stay home, thousands of people traveled through the RDU Airport on Sunday. 

Demetric Jones and his family celebrated the new year in sunny Florida.

“We left December 30, flew down to Orlando,” he said of how he rang in 2021. 

After months of travel restrictions and working via Zoom, Byron Bullock told CBS 17 he was traveling back to Nigeria for work.

“We will begin in-person classes on January 27th,” said Bullock, who spends part of the year working at the American University of Nigeria. “So I’m heading back, I have to quarantine once I get over there.”

Maria Corona dropped her father off at the airport. She said his visit to Raleigh from Los Angeles was the first time she saw him since March. 

“It was obviously a huge risk, especially because he’s not getting younger by the day,” she said. “But it felt good because my little sister just turned 15. We’re Hispanic, so Quinceanera was a big deal.”

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in North Carolina have consistently set records. Some hospitals are nearing capacity and mapping out plans to add ICU beds.

State health officials worry holiday travel could make the situation worse.

“Obviously with the COVID situation continuing to escalate; it’s a big concern for me to travel at this time of year,” said Bullock. 

Other travelers echoed that same concern, but said they were able to rationalize their travel plans.
Jones said getting away to Florida was more than a vacation.

“We had a tragic accident last year during this time and we just wanted to get away from that,” Jones said.

Like Bullock, Joice Cranford was flying out of RDU Airport for work on Sunday.

“I don’t believe it’s over yet,” Cranford said of the pandemic. “And I believe people need to be real careful, but you gotta do what you gotta do.”

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