Health experts are advising Americans to avoid traditional family get-togethers this holiday season, but survey results from AAA Consumer Pulse shows that Minnesotans are more comfortable traveling now they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
The results from the consumer survey found that three in four Minnesota travelers "are concerned about traveling this holiday season," but "confidence is improving" as 45% of Minnesotans who took the survey say they are more comfortable now than during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Further results show that 18% of Minnesotans are planning to travel during the holidays, while another 14% have yet to decide on holiday travel.
“While many will prefer to stay home this holiday season, some are more comfortable with travel than they were earlier this year,” said Mark Peterson, Minnesota spokesman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Whether that confidence is based on more education about COVID-19 or simply a need to get out, AAA urges all travelers to follow safety advice of the CDC and work with a trusted travel advisor.”
Breaking it down by travel through ground and air, the survey found that 79% of Minnesotans are most comfortable traveling in their own vehicle while 55% "are still uncomfortable taking a commercial flight."
Traveling with household members is not considered a high risk activity for COViD-19, though University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm has repeatedly warned that the U.S. is seeing greater transmission of the virus at bars, restaurants, weddings, funerals and many other kinds of community gatherings.
Osterholm is also advising people to avoid traditional family gatherings with relatives outside your immediate household during the upcoming holidays. He recently said the next 6-12 weeks will be the "darkest" of the pandemic.
"Don't let tradition overplay your love for your family. What I mean by that is protecting mom and dad, grandpa and grandma ... right now family gatherings are a major source of transmission and there's nothing worse than being a young adult, coming home, being healthy not realizing you're infected and three weeks later mom and dad are dead," Osterholm said in an interview with NBC's "Meet The Press."
"This is our COVID year. Let's accept it," he added. "If you really love the people that you have in your immediately family, think through this and do them the greatest gift of all and that is distance yourself this year and not expose them."
The AAA survey is based on the results of approximately 400 Minnesotans.