BR Airport, expecting hundreds of Thanksgiving travelers, amps up safety precautions
BATON ROUGE - This November, as US health experts report an alarming surge in novel coronavirus cases, they're urging citizens to replace extensive travel plans and large-scale family dinners with safer forms of Thanksgiving celebrations.
The nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci explained why during an interview with the Washington Post, saying, "If in fact you're in a situation when you do the things that are increasing the risk, the travel, the congregate setting, not wearing masks, the chances are that you will see a surge superimposed upon a surge. What we're doing now is going to be reflected two, three weeks from now."
On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns, "More than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States over the last 7 days. As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with."
Despite these pleas from public health officials, millions of Americans remain determined to take to airports and book flights to spend the holidays with out-of-state family.
According to a Wednesday morning report from Good Morning America, more than four million people have flown since Friday.
In Baton Rouge, the local airport is doing its best to prepare for the uptick in foot traffic by implementing federally recommended health precautions designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Officials with the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) expect about 1,500 people to pass through its facilities during the pre-Thanksgiving travel rush.
Though this number is significantly less than 2019's count of 2,000 travels on a peak day, it's still enough to put airport officials on alert.
BTR's website says it is taking measures to protect its guests and staff by increased cleaning and sanitation efforts, particularly in all of its high-traffic, high-touch areas, in addition to adding signage reminding travelers how to avoid the spread of germs.
The COVID update on the airport's website goes on to say, "We are also placing additional hand sanitizers throughout the facilities to encourage use. The entire airport is fogged each night with a sanitizing solution. BTR requires that passengers wear masks in the terminal as required by the East Baton Rouge City Parish."
The additional signage and sight of airport employees working hard to clean BTR facilities will be a constant reminder to travelers that there's a danger in taking to the skies this holiday season. Though unsettling, experts say these reminders are for good reason.
Dr. Manish Mishra of Our Lady of the Lake explained why to WBRZ's Rae'ven Jackson, saying, "Being in those public spaces definitely we can be those carriers of those viruses and not just COVID 19 but also flu. So, when we go to a public place to a private place it's very easy to spread especially to our elder adults in our family and people who are immunocompromised, which essentially means anybody who has any type of chronic illness that causes their immune system to be at bay and not work the way that it normally should. Or anyone who just has diabetes or high blood pressure. That can just affect them disproportionately."
Essentially, those who feel they must travel for the holidays are advised to take the safety of fellow passengers and family members into consideration by wearing masks, social distancing, and washing their hands as much as reasonably possible.
Click here for specific suggestions on how one can take steps to protect their family members while spending Thanksgiving with them.
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