Thousands of Americans are on the move this holiday season as they travel to their Christmas destinations. On Wednesday the number of travelers going through TSA checkpoints was not far off from last year's numbers. On December 23, 2019 1,937,235 people went through TSA checkpoints. On December 23, 2020 1,191,123 people passed through TSA checkpoints. The alarming numbers are concerning to health officials who have repeatedly asked people to stay home for the holiday in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
On Thursday flights picked up at Palm Springs International Airport, despite overall air travel being down.
"I went back home for a couple weeks to visit family and now I’m back in my second home here in Palm Springs," said Canadian resident, Mary Jo Schnepf.
"I come out every year around this time. It’s interesting, warmer than what it usually is this time of year. The lockdowns are kind of a bummer, kind of a lot of stuff that seems ridiculous but you never know if it’s helping or if it’s not," said Colorado resident, Grant Rose.
Rose planned on meeting with his grandpa who lives in the valley.
Another couple was happy to be in a warmer climate after they flew in from St. Louis, Missouri. Both wore matching Christmas sweaters with a picture of their 3 cats.
"With the year being what it is we’re going to be doing a lot of staying in their house, just visiting, catching up," said Jeff Boger, who was in town to visit his parents.
Many travelers told News Channel 3 they would be scaling down this Christmas celebration due to the pandemic.
"There is only 4 of us. We’re not going to any family member's houses," said Phoenix resident, Alyxa Gaede.
Many will be stuck at home this holiday as the coronavirus casts a shadow on Christmas. At a time that's supposed to bring people together, friends and families are being forced apart as California grapples with record hospitalizations and 0% ICU capacity.
Health experts are urging people to stay at home for the holiday to avoid a 'surge on top of a surge.'
While the pandemic made the year 2020 extremely difficult, the hope is that the new year will be the light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, many are trying to stay positive.
"It’s an opportunity to rethink things too so let’s see the positives too," said Schnepf.