MUSC doctor gives tips on how to keep safe during holiday travels as Omicron spreads

A Medical University of South Carolina doctor has given several tips to prospective travelers...
A Medical University of South Carolina doctor has given several tips to prospective travelers during the holidays as the Omicron variant spreads throughout the U.S.(Live 5 News)
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 9:37 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2021 at 4:06 AM EST
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CHARLESTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (WCSC) – A Medical University of South Carolina doctor has given several tips to prospective travelers during the holidays as the Omicron variant spreads throughout the U.S.

Dr. Julie Hirschhorn, the director of the Molecular Pathology Laboratory at MUSC, said people traveling during the holidays need to assess their risk of contracting the virus before they leave.

“Also in thinking about where you are, what your positivity rate is, where you currently live, and then also where you’re traveling and what that positivity rate is there,” Hirschhorn said.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Wednesday reported over 1,300 new cases of COVID-19, with 16 new deaths and a percent positive rate of 9.2%.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the Omicron variant has become the most dominant variant in the U.S. over the past week, overtaking the Delta variant.

However, the variant’s recent rise won’t stop travelers like Espy Lampkin, who is returning home to Seattle, this holiday season.

“I think as long as people take the proper precautions, I think we’ll be fine,” Lampkin said.

Johns Island resident David Vazquez, who works in healthcare, returned home from St. Louis on Wednesday.

He said he is wary of the Omicron variant as he travels, but he wants people to continue to wash their hands and wear masks to limit the spread.

“It’s definitely always in the back of my mind,” Vazquez said. “I think if everyone just does their due diligence, hopefully the impact is minimal as opposed to catastrophic, which it has the potential to be.”

Lampkin, however, remains hopeful for the future, despite the new variant.

“I think once they get this figured out, I think we’ll be fine for future travel,” Lampkin said.

Whether people are returning home or heading out of town for the holidays, Dr. Hirschhorn said they should keep in mind who they are going to see.

“Are those people you’re going to see at higher risk than you?” she said. “Are you traveling with small children that may have just gotten out of school?”

Airport officials said travelers should check their flight status before arriving to the airport and to arrive early because of the potential for long lines.

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