Viral tweet sparks debate over holiday COVID testing amid huge travel expectations

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How are families handling vacations in the age of COVID-19?

Not so good, according to a woman’s tweet that went viral with more than 92,300 likes.

Tweeter, Cassandra Basler, began her Saturday post with, “How politicized is Omicron in Michigan?”

Then she said she asked her family if everyone would comply with the rapid home tests before meeting indoors.

She was ultimately not invited to the festivities.

Data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognized Omicron as the most dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States, accounting for about 73% of new infections for the week ending Dec. 18.

When the data was released last week, Omicron was detected in less than 13% of new COVID-19 cases.

Responses to Basler’s tweet were widespread.

Some, like user @MadMaxMKE, believe Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer should impose strict orders across the board to mitigate future spread and slow hospital admissions.

Another reply said, “If anyone in the comments section has any advice on de-radicalizing a conspiracy theorist’s family members, please drop that advice here.”

A man, who is vaccinated and boosted and hosting a family reunion, said his son – a doctor – had asked all attendees to take home tests. The man declined due to his vaccination status.

“I was vaccinated and never asked my family to do it,” user brandi_mcminn said. “Obviously every family is different, but the tests are very expensive. And not everyone has $150 more to get one. So yeah, I would never expect that from my family.”

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s administration said it would provide free rapid home tests to those who request them.

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the number of trips is expected to rival pre-pandemic numbers. After screening about 21 million passengers during the 10-day Thanksgiving holiday, the agency expects similar numbers this Christmas.

“We are seeing a strengthening of the air travel industry toward pre-pandemic levels and our goal is to provide you, the passenger, with a safe and secure flight,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We are working hard with our airport and airline partners to achieve this by ensuring that screening operations meet the demand ahead.”

Trains and planes have been grounded at Denver airport due to a security risk, officials said. Above, travelers wear protective face masks at Denver International Airport on November 30, 2021 in Denver, Colorado, as concern grows around the world over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Denver International Airport, for example, expects to see between 2.7 and 2.9 million passengers through its doors by Jan. 3, per The Denver post. This represents only a 5% increase compared to the same period in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.

In its 2021 Christmas travel guide, Scott’s Cheap Flights said that of those planning to travel for Christmas before Omicron, 87% did not change their plans. Meanwhile, only 10% canceled or postponed and 3% changed location.

And of those who weren’t sure of their plans before the Omicron wave, 27% have since decided not to travel while 45% are still undecided.

Perhaps the most glaring statistic is that while 62% of people are concerned that Omicron will affect their vacations, 79% are more concerned about the variant’s negative impact on their travel plans in 2022.

If you are considering a cruise, the policies depend on the company, Travel+Leisure reported.

Norwegian Cruise Line requires 100% of its crew and passengers to be fully immunized, as well as mandatory testing for passengers before boarding – a policy that will remain “indefinitely”.

Disney Cruise Line is only requiring passengers 12 and older to be fully vaccinated, hoping to adjust this requirement for children 5 and older starting in 2022.

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