MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Despite a CDC warning urging people to avoid travel, Miami International Airport is seeing another busy time during the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to that, there’s the threat of a new strain of COVID-19 that’s 70% more transmissible. However, scientists don’t believe it’s any deadlier than other strains.
“Whether it’s a strong strain of the virus or a weaker strain, like we’ve seen already, whether there are high cases or low cases, we still encourage passengers to follow the same precautions we’ve been following all along,” MIA pokesperson Greg Chin said.
The epicenter for the newest strain is England. Several countries like Canada, Italy and Germany have closed its borders to travelers from the United Kingdom. The feds are the ones to make that decision in the U.S.
“That will be the responsibility of the Federal government. Currently there is a restriction that only allows US citizens and legal permanent residents from the U.K. to arrive to the U.S.,” Chin said.
CNN is reporting the White House is considering having UK travelers show proof they have a recent negative test. But as of now, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci doesn’t believe travel from the U.K. to the U.S. should be stopped.
It’s common for viruses to mutate. World health leaders have counted more than 4,000 COVID-19 strains so far. This is at the same time frontline workers and long-term care staff and residents are getting their first dose of the vaccine.
“Right now there’s no evidence that this new variant will make our vaccine less effective or that it will make tests less effective,” Johns Hopkins University Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Rivers said.
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Back at MIA, airport workers will continue to remind travelers to keep a distance and wear a facial covering.
Many travelers told CBS4’s Ted Scouten they’re comfortable getting on planes.
“As long as people follow regulations then I feel like it’s fine. As long as you keep your mask on, you’re not traveling while you’re sick,” Nathan Milisky said.
With Christmas present in hand, Milisky is heading to Pittsburgh.
Both South Florida airports are expecting big crowds.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport estimates 940,000 people will travel this holiday period, while that’s half of last year’s total, it’s still about 75,000 passengers a day.
At Miami International Airport they’re expecting more than 1.1 million passengers. That’s also down from last year, but averaging around 68,000 people coming and going every day.
“What we’ll see and what we’re projecting for the next 17 days is about half the passengers we had this time last year, which we’ve seen as a success if that happens,” said Chin.
Many travelers told Scouten that before they go anywhere, they want a negative test.
“I got tested weekly,” said Noesha Ferrell. “So I’m pretty clear that I’m good.”
At FLL, you can get checked just before departure at the airport’s COVID testing site.
Yasasha McKenzie is heading to Jamaica for the holidays. But before seeing family, she wanted to make sure she’s virus free.
“It’s very important because you know that you’re protecting your family and not only your family but the other people out there,” McKenzie said.
World health leaders say the common goal is to slow the spread, and that will therefore slow the mutations.
“The more we allow it to spread, the more opportunity it has to change,” World Health Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
An airport spokesperson told CBS4 News there are 14 flights from the U.K. to MIA a week. There are no direct flights from the U.K. to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The busiest travel days are expected to be the weekend after Christmas and New Year’s as well as the day after Three Kings Day.