Hijacked holiday: Omicron jeopardizes travel plans for millions

National News

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With the omicron variant spreading swiftly, there are now concerns over holiday travel nationwide — resulting in a mad dash for tests and stress for hospital workers.

It’s particularly unfortunate timing for many, as omicron has quickly become the dominant COVID-19 strain just as the holiday season began. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 73% of new infections last week were omicron infections.

While there are still many unknowns surrounding the variant, encouraging news emerged from a South African study Wednesday, with findings indicating people infected with omicron faced an 80% lower chance of hospitalization versus previous COVID-19 variants.

But the good news might end there, at least for now, as millions face the prospect of yet another hijacked holiday.

“Many Texans, I think, thought this first holiday season after vaccines became widely available would be more relaxed compared to the holiday season last year — but with omicron, a lot of families are scrambling for COVID tests and delaying plans and worrying about relatives who’ve been exposed to the virus,” said Texas Tribune’s Cassi Pollock.

While airlines said they haven’t seen a ton of travel cancelations yet, the speed of omicron means there’s still plenty of time for even more complications.

Despite the bad news, there is hope.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told NBC News holiday 2022 is a lot different than holiday 2021 due to the various advances in knowledge and preparation for the surge.

“We have vaccines, we have boosters, and we have all of the science that demonstrates that prevention, interventions like masking in indoor settings work to mitigate the spread of this virus,” Walensky said.

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