Local health expert discusses summer travel safety

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW / WAGT) – The summer weather is here, and so is the summer travel season.

COVID transmission is low in the two-state, but pockets of higher transmission are starting to pop up in other parts of the nation.

We were live from Augusta Regional Airport, where things have been busy.

We talked to an Augusta University health expert about those clusters of cases and if there are concerns for summer plans.

People are coming in and out, some wearing masks and others choosing not to.

Rodger MacArthur, infectious disease expert, AU says he is fine with airlines lifting the mask mandates, but it’s up to you, as cases are much lower compared to years past.

Some travelers are supporters of a lifted mandate on masks.

“I feel that people should have the right to do what they want to do,” said Laura Burkhouse.

Mark Andrews said: “The minute they lifted the mandate, and I walked through the airport, it was probably about 90 percent of people had their mask off.”

The CDC recommends people wear masks in airports as cases climb throughout the northeast. But here in our region, people are okay with traveling without a mask.

MacArthur said: “Cases are down. More important than that, deaths are down, and hospitalizations are way down. ”

It’s a much different outlook than last summer.

“We were in the second phase or at least one of the phases of the delta variant, and it feels a whole lot better this year than last year,” he said.

Just because they can fly without a mask does not mean they are ready to.

Burkhouse said: “You never know who you’re next to or around. I’d rather feel safe than sorry. ”

MacArthur says the best way to prevent COVID this summer is to stay up to date on vaccines.

Andrews said: “I do not mind wearing a mask at all because I think it gives an added level of protection.”

Doctors say the virus could surge, but for now, they should do what makes them most comfortable while traveling.

MacArthur said: “Enjoy this wonderful weather, enjoy the summer but realize the virus isn’t going away completely.”

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