Despite warning from CDC, travel spikes 114 percent at BNA in one week


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Travelers’ plans remain fluid. With coronavirus numbers spiking, some are deciding to stay home and play it safe. Others, are staying the course and taking the risk to fly or drive.

“We have definitely seen an uptick in the past few days,” said Kym Gerlock, spokeswoman for Nashville International Airport.

Despite health experts warning people to stay home this holiday, BNA is seeing an average of approximately 12,000 or so departing passengers per day.

“The airport receives no local taxes and relies on parking, concessions and fees from airlines, so this slight increase does mean increased revenue. That said, passenger volume is much lower than last year, which continues to have a negative impact on our revenues,” Gerlock said.

However, Gerlock added that BNA is optimistic for a rebound in travel this coming year.

Perhaps the rebound is already starting.

While the TSA isn’t providing specific airport numbers, a spokesperson for TSA’s New England Region tells News 2 that passenger volume at BNA was up 114.67 percent on Wednesday, Dec. 23 when compared to last Wednesday. However, passenger volume at BNA when compared to same day last year is down seven percent.

Dr. Amy Gordon Bono says now is not the time to be traveling, with hospitals reaching capacity across the nation.

“Driving is certainly safer than flying at this time, but there’s also concerns over driving especially with hospital capacity being exceeded in every state along the drive,” said Dr. Bono.

According to AAA, car travel is expected to drop by 25 percent compared to last year. Though, that still means 81 million people will be out on the roads this holiday.

What about those taking planes?

“Whenever it comes to COVID prevention, it takes not just a mask, but it takes physical distance between people to decrease that transmission possibly, so an airport just isn’t a safe place to be these days.”

Even so, nationwide, the TSA screened 1,191,123 individuals at airport checkpoints nationwide on Wednesday. It’s the highest checkpoint volume since March 16 when 1,257,823 people were screened.

“While you may have antibodies to protect you for, you know, let’s round out to 90 days, you could still cause harm to others,” said Dr. Bono, “We don’t quite understand if you were to come in contact with COVID and then be exposed could you then transmit it to another individual.”

All the more reason she says for everyone, even those who already had the virus, to social distance, wear a mask and wash your hands.

In the meantime, BNA is reminding travelers that with increased passenger volume, parking is especially tight and they should arrive early as they make adjustments.

“We have wearing a mask, watching our distance, washing our hands, Dr. Bono said. “It takes us all making the appropriate personal choice to maybe cancel your traditional holiday plans and double down on our mitigation strategies because guess what, there’s a vaccine, it’s out there. We just have to take our time and make the sacrifice right now because there’s hope on the horizon.”

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH reports each day. )

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