Tag: CDC

Airlines try to thread the needle as CDC warns against holiday travel

The airline and travel industry are wrestling with how to promote their struggling sectors in the run-up to the usually-busy Thanksgiving holiday, against the backdrop of stern new CDC recommendations released Thursday warning to avoid travel as coronavirus cases spiral uncontrolled.

a group of people sitting at a airport: A passenger carries her luggage through a nearly deserted terminal at the Tampa International Airport in Florida.

© Chris O’Meara/AP Photo
A passenger carries her luggage through a nearly deserted terminal at the Tampa International Airport in Florida.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, said during a briefing Thursday, adding that the health agency is especially concerned about “transportation hubs.”

The agency’s recommendation lines up with a growing number of new state restrictions and warnings in response to record numbers of new cases and more than 250,000 U.S. deaths, as well as disease experts’ concerns that even small indoor gatherings of people from different locations could spread the virus further.

Thanksgiving is typically a banner time of year for the airline industry, which has seen rock bottom revenues in 2020. While the volume of travelers will be much less than in previous years, air carriers have still been hoping for a healthy uptick.

During a press conference held a week ago, Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, said “I hope you’re flying somewhere” for Thanksgiving. “I am,” he continued.

“Flying is safe, I will state that categorically,” Calio said.

But by Thursday, as Covid cases and spread spiked ever higher, Calio had adopted a more cautious tone, though he still insisted the risk of being infected on board a plane is low. On a joint holiday travel call with TSA, Calio said airlines want travelers to “make an informed decision.”

He suggested they look to research like a recent Harvard study that found that with a layered approach — including social distancing, masks and air filtration — the risk of coronavirus transmission aboard a plane is low.

Several additional studies have found the same, although the science is far from settled and other researchers have found suspected cases of transmission on board planes.

The mood was more grim at a U.S. Travel Association press conference later in the day. “We’re in an unprecedented and dangerous time,” said Michael Parkinson, a doctor who serves on an advisory panel for the group.

Roger Dow, the association’s president, said “I’d rather have a little less travel now to come back more quickly down the road.” However, the 74-year-old Dow said he himself will be traveling from Florida to Maryland for Thanksgiving.

TSA chief David Pekoske repeatedly side-stepped questions about whether the agency would discourage holiday travel, saying travelers should “make their own decisions.”

“The decision to travel is up to the traveler,” he said. “And my best advice to the traveler is to consider the recommendations that the Centers for Disease Control have made, that their local public health officials have made and any consultations that they think are appropriate with their own physicians.”

TSA expects to see travel volumes that are consistent with the Columbus Day weekend,

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Many Americans Ignored Thanksgiving Travel Warnings From CDC, Data Show : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

More Americans stayed home for Thanksgiving this year compared with last year — but by relatively small margins.

An NPR analysis of mobile phone location data showed that 42% of Americans with smartphones remained home, up from 36% last year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeatedly urged people to avoid holiday travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the warnings, 13% of Americans still traveled a significant distance, the data showed, although that number was down from 17% last year.

Ali Mokdad, from the University of Washington, said that ideally, more people would have stayed home given the high case rates. “This level of travel will unfortunately lead to a rise in cases,” said Mokdad, who is the chief strategy officer for Population Health.

Data, provided to NPR by SafeGraph, are based on tracking the locations of about 18 million mobile phones across the United States. NPR analyzed the anonymized data to determine the percentage of people who stayed at their “home” location for Thanksgiving as well as the percentage who traveled 31 miles or more.

Thanksgiving week is usually one of the busiest travel periods of the year, but 2020 was expected to end an 11-year trend of travel growth going back to the 2008-09 Great Recession. Car travel had been expected to decrease by at least 10%, while accounting for a higher overall proportion of travel, as fewer people were expected to fly, according to AAA.

In fact, air travel this year was less than half of what it was for the same holiday period in 2019, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Despite the decrease, the number of air passengers hovered at around 1 million per day for a majority of the week leading up to Thanksgiving, the highest it has been since mid-March, when the pandemic began to ramp up in the U.S. Air traffic has been steadily increasing the last few months, even as the country recorded some of its highest new daily coronavirus case counts. In the week leading up to Thanksgiving Day alone, the U.S. saw about 1 million new cases.

TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein noted there had been no issues with passenger volume on Thanksgiving Day. To account for more travelers during the travel period, the TSA “opened additional checkpoint lanes to help ensure low wait times and allow for social distancing.”

SafeGraph’s metrics cannot capture what people did when they left home or what safety measures they took to mitigate their risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus. SafeGraph’s data also cannot account for whether those who left home went to houses within their social bubble.

If you were one of the people who traveled for Thanksgiving, it’s not too late to reduce the risk involved. Quarantining, wearing a mask near others, limiting interactions outside the house and getting tested if any symptoms develop can all reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

“The best way to prevent further spread of the disease is to stay home, avoid gatherings,

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Avoid Holiday Travel Or Get Tested Twice For Covid-19, CDC Says


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising Americans to stay home for the holidays, or else take multiple Covid-19 tests and additional precautions, the agency said Wednesday, as coronavirus cases spike nationwide and are expected to climb even higher due to Thanksgiving gatherings.

Key Facts

While the CDC recommends that people don’t travel at all, those who do should be tested for Covid-19 one to three days before traveling, the agency said, and then tested again three to five days after they return.

Those who travel for the holidays should also avoid nonessential public activities for seven days after they return, or 10 days if the traveler does not get tested.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk” and is not as safe as staying home entirely, the CDC emphasized, but can make travel less dangerous when combined with other social distancing measures like self-isolating and mask wearing.

Crucial Quote

“Cases are rising, and the safest thing to do is to postpone holiday travel and stay home,” Cindy Friedman, who leads the CDC’s Travelers’ Health Branch, told reporters on a press call Wednesday. “Travel volume was high over Thanksgiving, and even if only a small percentage of those travelers were asymptomatically infected, this can translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections moving from one community to another.”

Key Background

The CDC’s holiday guidance is in line with the agency’s recommendations over Thanksgiving, which similarly encouraged Americans to spend the holiday only with people from their household or keep gatherings as small as possible. Many Americans appeared to ignore the agency’s recommendations, however, with a pre-Thanksgiving survey finding at least a quarter of Americans planned to travel and gather with other people despite the CDC guidelines. Data from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration also showed that air travel reached its highest levels since the pandemic began over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

What To Watch For

Health experts project that Thanksgiving travel and gatherings will lead to a perilous surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations nationwide, which are already at their highest levels since the pandemic began. Given Covid-19’s incubation period, infections that took place over Thanksgiving will likely take up to a few weeks to be reflected in the case counts, which health experts fear could give Americans a false sense of security when it comes to holiday travel. “People may think if Thanksgiving didn’t change how much spread there was, I’m safe to do Christmas,” Boston University epidemiologist Ellie Murray told the Guardian. “That’s almost certainly the wrong thing to think, but it may be really hard to convince people based on the data just because of the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Further Reading

Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings (CDC)

CDC recommends postponing holiday travel as Covid surges (Politico)

CDC Advises Americans Not To Travel

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CDC: Add COVID Testing to Your Holiday Travel Plans

Stay home this holiday season, but if you must travel, get tested both before and after your trip, CDC officials said at a news conference on Wednesday.

People who insist on traveling should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 with a “viral test” 1-3 days before travel, and 3-5 days after travel. After traveling, people should avoid “non-essential activities” for 7 days.

If someone does not get tested before or after traveling, they should avoid “non-essential activities” for 10 days, CDC officials said. Better yet: just don’t go anywhere.

“Cases are rising, hospitalizations are increasing, deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve to stop this exponential increase,” said Henry Walke, MD, CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager. “Testing does not eliminate all risk, but it does make travel safer.”

Cindy Friedman, MD, chief of CDC’s Traveler’s Health Branch, said travel volume was high during Thanksgiving, and that even a few resulting infections could further the virus’s spread. Officials have been warning of a “surge on surge” emanating from holiday travel.

A reporter noted that the agency’s last guidance about Thanksgiving travel was released a mere week prior to the holiday, and asked if the CDC waited too long to issue those recommendations. Walke said the agency is issuing the new guidance now, weeks prior to the next big holiday travel period, “to provide additional consideration for the American public, healthcare providers, and public health administrators.”

“Our hope is that before the upcoming holiday season, people hear the message about staying home and protecting themselves,” he said.

Shorter Quarantine Options Clarified

As previous reports had predicted, CDC officials also unveiled more nuanced COVID-19 quarantine recommendations for close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The agency offered two alternate quarantine periods: 7 days after a negative test or 10 days if the person is not tested at all. Previously, the recommendation was a blanket 14 days’ isolation for exposed individuals.

However, Walke stressed that the agency still recommends the 14-day quarantine as the best way to stop the spread of the virus, and said that people should continue to monitor symptoms for a full 14 days, regardless of quarantine length.

The two additional options were added based on “extensive modeling data,” including from academic medical centers, as well as pre-print websites. John Brooks, MD, CDC’s chief medical officer for COVID-19 response, said that with the 10-day period, residual risk of transmission is reduced to 1%, with an upper limit of risk at 12%.

“Ten days is where risk got into a sweet spot that we liked,” he said.

For 7 days of quarantine, residual risk of transmission with a negative test was 5%, with an upper limit of risk around 10%, Brooks added. Either a PCR test or a viral antigen test can be used for discontinuing quarantine.

Walke said the agency looked for an option that doesn’t require testing so as to ease the burden on public health departments. “Testing is difficult in some locations,” he said.

“Our public health partners have options

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The CDC says Americans shouldn’t travel for the holidays. Knowing they will anyway, the agency suggests 2 COVID-19 tests.

a group of people standing in a room: Health care worker Elizabeth Cameros, right, administers a deep nasal coronavirus test to traveler Wade Hopkins at a COVID-19 testing station at LAX on Monday, November 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

© Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Health care worker Elizabeth Cameros, right, administers a deep nasal coronavirus test to traveler Wade Hopkins at a COVID-19 testing station at LAX on Monday, November 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

  • The CDC says the safest way to celebrate winter holidays this year is at home.
  • But if you do plan to travel, the CDC recommends getting tested twice, once before and once after, and restricting your outings to only those most essential in the days surrounding your trip.
  • The CDC says travelers should get tested for the virus one to three days before traveling, as well as three to five days afterwards, and make sure both of those tests come back negative.
  • The agency also recommends restricting any “non-essential” outings for at least seven days after traveling.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With the coronavirus still spreading fast across the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the best way for Americans to celebrate winter holidays this December is to stay where they live.

“Cases are rising, hospitalizations are increasing, deaths are increasing, and we need to try to bend the curve,” the CDC’s COVID-19 Incident Manager Dr. Henry Walke said Wednesday on a call with reporters.

“The best thing for Americans to do in the upcoming holiday season is to stay at home.”

Knowing that many people across the US will not heed that advice, the CDC is also offering up some guidance on how to travel more safely if you decide to venture out before 2021 ends.

Test before travel, afterwards, and lay low for a week

a woman holding luggage: Travelers at Miami International Airport on Sunday, November 22, 2020. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

© David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Travelers at Miami International Airport on Sunday, November 22, 2020. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The new travel guidance is three-pronged: test, lay low, and test again.

First, the CDC recommends travelers get a coronavirus test one to three days before they travel, and then make sure it comes back negative before they hop in the car, board a flight, or catch a train.

Once travelers arrive at their destination, they should also lay low for a week, restricting outings to only their most essential chores like grocery shopping. They should then take one more test “three to five days after travel,” Walke said. If it’s not possible to procure a second test after traveling, the CDC recommends increasing the period of essential-only outings to 10 days. 

Throughout all of this, travelers should monitor themselves for common symptoms of the virus (fever, cough, fatigue, body aches). They also need to wear a mask and be vigilant about handwashing, social distancing, and ventilation when indoors.

People traveling who’ve tested negative for the virus should still assume they could catch or carry it. Tests are not perfect at picking out every infection, and they can only provide insight into a single moment in

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CDC recommends postponing holiday travel as Covid surges

The Centers for Disease Control on Wednesday urged Americans to postpone holiday travel after a busy Thanksgiving weekend that likely led to a further surge in coronavirus cases.

a person standing in front of a building: Travelers walk through Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Nov. 29, 2020.

© Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo
Travelers walk through Terminal 3 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Nov. 29, 2020.

“Cases are rising, hospitalizations are increasing and deaths are increasing,” said Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager during a press briefing. “We’re asking Americans to help prevent these increases and avoid travel.”

People who do travel should be tested one to three days before and three to five days after their trips, while avoiding public activities for seven days, the agency said.

The agency released similar guidance against travel over Thanksgiving, but officials said travel volume remained high.

“Even if only a small percentage of those travelers were asymptomatically infected, this can translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections moving from one community to another,” said Cindy Friedman, chief of the CDC’s Travelers’ Health Branch.

The Thanksgiving guidance was at odds with messaging from the White House but tracked with state restrictions that are being imposed in response to the worsening pandemic.

The CDC, as previously reported, also said it was shortening the recommended quarantine times for people who have been exposed to the virus from 14 days to 10 days if the individual is not exhibiting any symptoms. If someone has tested negative, the CDC recommends quarantining for seven days, though officials say 14 days is still the best way to reduce transmission.

The U.S. has reported 13.7 million cases and more than 270,000 deaths so far. CDC officials said they expect an uptick in cases from the Thanksgiving holiday to show up in case counts in the next week or two.

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Don’t Travel To Mexico, Says CDC. (Yet Infection Rates Are Higher In Most Of The U.S.)

Thinking of getting away to Cancun or Cabo? The CDC is not mincing words.

“Travelers should avoid all travel to Mexico,” according to its latest guidance, which places Mexico in the Level 4 risk category, highest risk level for COVID-19.

Mind you, most countries around the world are now at Level 4, and the vast majority currently have much less community spread than the United States.

Yesterday, the United States recorded 180,083 new Covid-19 cases and 2,597 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, Mexico recorded 8,819 and 825 deaths. Even if you adjust for population — the U.S. has 2.6 times as many people as Mexico — it would appear that north of the border is the riskier place to be right now.

You can get an apples-to-apples comparison by looking at incidence. Over a seven-day rolling average, the United States has recorded 48.2 new daily Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 7.2 new cases per day per 100,000 people in Mexico, according to the risk-assessment map from the Harvard Global Health Institute and Brown School of Public Health.

MORE FROM FORBESCDC Now Says Travelers Should Get Three Covid Tests

Still, that’s not to imply that it is safe to go to Mexico at the moment, as most experts think Mexico’s actual numbers are higher because of low testing levels. On October 5, Mexican health authorities changed their tracking methodology and subsequently reported a sharp jump in Covid-19 cases and deaths, reported The New York Times. And on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization confirmed that “Mexico is in bad shape.” 

The U.S.-Mexico land border is closed to nonessential travel by land until at least December 21. But air travel is another story. Americans can fly into Mexico and do not need to show proof of a negative test or undergo quarantine. And airlines have been adding flights for the upcoming winter season.

If you decide to travel to Mexico despite the Level 4 warning, the CDC says you should get three separate Covid-19 tests. The agency now recommends that all international travelers get a viral test for Covid-19 at three different times — before, during and after their trip.

MORE FROM FORBES‘Any Type Of Travel Needs To Stop,’ Says Top Critical Care Pulmonologist

Here in the United States, coronavirus is spreading like wildfire across the country, with a giant hot spot covering Mountain West and Midwest.

The White House coronavirus task force has warned that Covid-19 risk nationwide is “at a historic high.”

“If you look across the United States, we are really in a public health crisis right now because we are having a surge the likes of which is worse than the surges that we

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Holiday travel not advised for Christmas, New Year’s, CDC says


Doctors and nurses working in hospitals across the country are sharing the realities of COVID-19.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging travelers not to travel for the upcoming winter holidays, a repeat of its guidance for Thanksgiving travel.

“The best thing for Americans to do in the upcoming holiday season is to stay at home and not travel,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said in a news briefing Wednesday.

“Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing, Deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,” Walke said.

For those who decide to travel — and there were millions who boarded planes for Thanksgiving despite similar advice — the CDC is now recommending travelers get tested for COVID-19 before and after their trips.

The CDC is recommending a test one to three days before travel and another three to five days after travel, plus reducing nonessential activities for seven days after travel, Wilke said. Those who do not get tested should reduce nonessential activities for 10 days after travel, the agency said.

Testing does not eliminate travel risk, Wilke said, but when combined with reducing nonessential activities and other precautions, it can make “travel safer,” he said. 

Before it stepped up advice on not traveling during the holidays, the CDC had given only general advice on travel during the pandemic: “Travel may increase you chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.”

The recommendations come as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the United States, with hospitalizations and deaths increasing. The U.S. has reported more than 13.7 million cases and over 270,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 63.9 million cases and 1.48 million deaths.

Last week, the CDC strongly recommended against Thanksgiving travel. The agency said postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this holiday season.


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That didn’t deter air travelers, who flocked to airports across the country. On Sunday alone, the Transportation Security Administration screened 1,176,091 travelers, a pandemic high. (That is still down 59% from the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019.)

“Travel volume was high over Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Cindy Friedman, chief of the Travelers’ Health Branch at the CDC.

Even if only a small percentage of those who traveled had asymptomatic infections, that would lead to “hundreds of thousands” of increased infections, Friedman said.

Walke said the CDC expects to see an uptick in cases seven to 10 days after the Thanksgiving travel rush.

Also this week, the CDC advised against all travel to Mexico. Mexico has become a popular pandemic vacation spot because it does not have strict COVID-19 entry requirements, such as a negative test or quarantine. The CDC’s alert level for Mexico is its highest, level 4. 


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CDC urges against travel to Mexico; WHO says country ‘in bad shape’

The Associated Press
Published 10:58 p.m. ET Dec. 1, 2020


Americans returning from the Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge. (Dec. 1)

AP Domestic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to avoid all travel to Mexico as the country grapples with rising COVID-19 deaths.

The CDC has currently placed Mexico in the Level 4 risk category, which is the highest risk level for COVID-19. If anyone must travel to Mexico, the CDC recommends getting a viral test one to three days prior to traveling as well as prior to returning to the United States.

The organization also says to wear a face mask during travel, says travelers should get tested three to five days after travel and says travelers should stay home for seven days after travel.

On Monday, the head of the World Health Organization said that “Mexico is in bad shape” with the pandemic and urged its leaders be serious about the coronavirus and set examples for its citizens. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s comments came as Mexico’s death toll rose to 105,940 – the fourth highest in the world – with 1,113,543 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. The country’s actual numbers are believed to be much higher partly because of low testing levels.

Dressed in protective gear to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, military surgeon, Coronel Oscar Benavides Aguilar talks to a patient who is speaking to her daughter via a tablet, at a military hospital set up to take care of COVID-19 patients in Mexico City, Monday, November 30, 2020. As of last Friday, Mexico reported a record daily increase in the number of coronavirus cases, with Mexico City reporting the biggest portion of the surge in cases. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) (Photo: Marco Ugarte, AP)

“The number of increasing cases and deaths in Mexico is very worrisome,” he said in a press briefing.

Mexican President Andrés López Obrador has been criticized for often not wearing a mask and while not mentioning names or specific cases, the WHO chief urged the country’s leaders to take the pandemic seriously.

“We would like to ask Mexico to be very serious,” he said. “We have said it in general, wearing a mask is important, hygiene is important and physical distancing is important and we expect leaders to be examples …”

COVID-19 travel restrictions by state: What you need to know before you travel

The Mexican government’s pointman on the pandemic, Hugo López-Gatell, said all the comments are valuable but noted the government had already warned that with the arrival of winter the situation would worsen. According its latest data, the pandemic has grown by 7% in the past week.

Is it safe to travel for the holidays? This COVID-19 risk assessment map can help you decide

Contributing: Charles Trepany 


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CDC warns Americans not to travel to Mexico as airlines see increased demand

Last month, Mexico was the “clear leader” for U.S.-International air travel.

In the past two weeks, Mexico surpassed 100,000 deaths due to the virus and reported over 1 million cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The agency assigned Mexico its highest advisory, saying travel there “may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”

Data from travel itinerary app TripIt showed while air travel from the U.S. to Mexico in December is down overall, “the share of U.S.-origin flight reservations to the country have increased 179 percent year-over-year.”

PHOTO: Members of the military make sure passengers are following the COVID-19 rules at Cancun International Airport on Nov. 19, 2020 in Cancun, Mexico.

Brittany Bamrick, 31, plans to take her first international trip in January since the pandemic began. Her company bought out a “remote” yoga retreat center in Todos Santos, Mexico, that allows a maximum of 30 guests.

“I feel that I know the situation I’m getting into and assume the risk,” she said. “It’s an optional retreat, so if anyone wants to cancel, they can, it’s what you feel comfortable with.”

Bamrick and a majority of the people headed to the yoga retreat live in San Diego, California.

“It’s like going into a neighboring state for us,” she said. “It’s a shorter flight than others I’ve taken, so I almost feel better going to Mexico.”

Ashley Lewis, 36, has traveled to Mexico three times since March.

“I felt more safe there than I would at a Target or market in Los Angeles,” Lewis told ABC News. “The resorts were secluded, they weren’t selling the hotels to 100 percent capacity, and everyone was wearing masks and abiding by the rules. So much in those areas are dependent on tourism, and you could tell they were working incredibly hard to make the guests feel safe.”

Lewis says she is trying to take advantage of being able to work from anywhere – also traveling to Hawaii, Turks and Caicos, and Las Vegas during the pandemic.

“When I come home from a trip I quarantine in my home for a week or week and a half,” Lewis explained. “Then I go get that test and that’s for peace of mind that I can see my family without the fear of

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