COLORADO SPRINGS — Normally, Thanksgiving is a time of celebration. But with the rising COVID-19 cases in Colorado and throughout the country, the holiday has become a time of caution.
Those with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs said nearly 200 students have decided to stay on campus this Thanksgiving break. UCCS said that is a higher number of students than they normally see. One freshman student from Buena Vista said she will go home to see her family, since she can drive there. "I definitely talked to my family a lot, and asked what their opinion was... I know that I won't see my grandma, but I just want all of us to be safe mainly," said Shea Moss.
AAA Colorado expects this to be the lowest Thanksgiving travel volume in four years, and the largest yearly decline since the Great Recession. They predict 897,000 travelers this year in Colorado, but also think that number will decline even more. Overall, travel in Colorado is currently down around 10%. "Broadly, Americans are getting the message that it is not a safe time to be having big plans. And they're staying home. So we're seeing our numbers fall off, and we think hopefully, frankly, they fall off a little more, because it means people are doing the right thing... It is historic for us to be sitting down and looking at the data and saying, this is not the time to be traveling," said Skyler McKinley, the spokesperson for AAA Colorado.
Automobile travel is the only mode of transportation seeing an increase this year, but only by 1.7% over last year. McKinley also said 70% of Coloradans have had to postpone or cancel their travel plans in 2020.
McKinley said AAA Colorado has always been committed to the safety and security of their members. "This year that means telling everybody who will listen - don't travel, stick close to home. If you're going to gather, make sure it's in small groups. Make sure you're taking the right precautions. And if you are traveling, and you still have the right to travel, follow those precautions, including wearing a mask, keeping your distance from others, washing your hands, and increasingly, get tested before you go," said McKinley.
AAA Colorado estimates air travel to be down by around 75% when compared with 2019.
The Colorado Springs Airport does anticipate an increase of around 10-15% in their numbers over Thanksgiving week. "While we're still showing an increase in air service, we're expected to be down between 35-45% to where we normally are for the holiday season," said Dana Schield, the public communications specialist for the Colorado Springs Airport.
With disease transmission reaching unprecedented levels through the county, state and nation, it will be important to explore alternative ways to celebrate. People are encouraged to celebrate only with members of their immediate household this year. We know that Thanksgiving is normally a time where we gather with friends and families, but we are encouraging creative and safe ways this year such as having a video chat or Zoom dinner with loved ones, or watching a movie together over Zoom. You can also prepare food for an at-risk neighbor or friend and deliver it in a way that doesn't involve face-to-face contact.
CLICK HERE for helpful tips from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regarding Thanksgiving this year.