By Jim Williams

CHICAGO (CBS) — A vaccine for COVID-19 will not be available to the public anytime soon, and worries about the situation for the rest of the fall and the winter are a major concern as we approach one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported Tuesday evening on how people are changing their plans because of COVID.

Matt and Lynn Dragatsis, living in Colorado today, are planning to return to their native Joliet area to be with family for Thanksgiving. They said they will be taking precautions.

“So you know, I think we’re all pretty aware of what the social distancing rules are. So we’ll be wearing masks, will be distance,” Dragatsis said.

One other precaution: Matt and Lynn are driving. Before they pandemic, they’d fly here.

“We feel if we can do it without risk, of course, not getting on an airplane with 167 other people, you know, things like that,” Matt Dragatsis said. “We felt that we can do it, we can do it safely.”

“We definitely know this is going to be very different for holiday travel,” added

AAA’s Nick Jarmusz said it surveyed 402 people in Illinois recently, and half said they feel uncomfortable getting on a plane for Thanksgiving, typically one of the busiest periods for air travel.

Still, people are getting antsy, said Jarmusz who added that AAA created a COVID travel restriction map for the United States.

“I’d say generally that the overall sense is that people still want to travel. You know, probably now more than ever,” Jarmusz said. “They want to get a change of scenery. They want to go visit family that maybe they haven’t seen in some time.”

With that in mind, United is adding 1,400 flights for Thanksgiving, preparing for what’s expected to be the busiest period of air travel since March. Transportation expert Joe Schwieterman of DePaul University said the picture for the industry is brighter.

“You know the busiest day of the year is often the Saturday after Thanksgiving. October ran about 30% of normal for the airlines, really not so good situation,” Schwieterman said. “We think the holidays, though we could be approaching half or so what we weren’t pre-pandemic. That’s a real encouraging sign.”

The airlines insist it’s doing all they can make flying as safe as possible. But Matt and Lynn Dragatsis, who is a respiratory therapist and has seen the devastation of COVID up close, are making the long drive home.

“We love our families. We want to see them. It’s the holidays.”

 

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