Considering traveling for the holidays? You’re not alone in contemplating tough choices

Vivek Kaliraman, who lives in Los Angeles, has celebrated every Christmas since 2002 with his best friend, who lives in Houston. But, this year, instead of boarding an airplane, which felt too risky during the COVID-19 pandemic, he took a car and plans to stay with his friend for several weeks.

The trip – a 24-hour drive – was too much for one day, though, so Kaliraman called seven hotels in Las Cruces, New Mexico – which is about halfway – to ask how many rooms they were filling and what their cleaning and food-delivery protocols were.

“I would call at nighttime and talk to one front desk person and then call again at daytime,” said Kaliraman, 51, a digital health entrepreneur. “I would make sure the two different front desk people I talked to gave the same answer.”

Once he arrived at the hotel he’d chosen, he asked for a room that had been unoccupied the night before. And even though it got cold that night, he left the window open.

COVID-19 case surge triggers strict precautions

Many Americans, like Kaliraman, who did ultimately make it to Houston, are still planning to travel for the December holidays, despite the nation’s worsening coronavirus numbers.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the weekly COVID-19 hospitalization rate was at its highest point since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 287,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. Public health officials are bracing for an additional surge in cases resulting from the millions who, despite CDC advice, traveled home for Thanksgiving, including the 9 million who passed through airports Nov. 20-29. Hospital wards are quickly reaching capacity. In light of all this, health experts are again urging Americans to stay home for the holidays.

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