Thanksgiving travel: High COVID transmission rates in most states

Nation/World

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 25: Travelers check in with TSA at O’Hare International Airport on November 25, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Although airports are expecting fewer than half the number of travelers from Thanksgiving 2019, they are anticipating the largest number of travelers since March when the COVID-19 pandemic became widespread in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The biggest travel time of the year is getting closer as Americans prepare for Thanksgiving. Currently, the transmission level of COVID-19 is high in 39 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID Data Tracker.

Although New York is one of those 39 states where community transmission is considered high, states with the highest percentages of transmission are two to four times higher than the Empire State.

The top five states where transmission levels are the highest include South Dakota where the seven-day average positivity rate is 15-19.9%, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, where the positivity rate for all four is between 10-14.9%, based on CDC data. New York’s rate is 3-4.9%.

There are also six other states that have a transmission rate between 10-14.9%. Below is a table showing states with a rate of 10% or higher.

StateCommunity TransmissionSeven-Day Case Rate
per 100,000
Seven-day
Percent Positivity
Arizonahigh293.710-14.9%
Coloradohigh36110-14.9%
Idahohigh27010-14.9%
Iowahigh277.710-14.9%
Michiganhigh342.510-14.9%
Montanahigh409.310-14.9%
Nebraskahigh292.510-14.9%
Nevadahigh179.810-14.9%
New Mexicohigh393.510-14.9%
South Dakotahigh283.815-19.9%
Utahhigh359.210-14.9%
Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker

States with the lowest seven-day average positivity rate, less than 3%, are Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Despite having a low positivity rate, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are all labeled areas of high community transmission by the CDC. Connecticut, Hawaii, and Louisiana have been labeled areas with substantial virus transmission, the second-highest warning label given by the CDC.

AAA is predicting Thanksgiving travel will once again rival pre-pandemic levels. They estimate 53.4 million Americans will travel for the holiday. The CDC recommends people be fully vaccinated before traveling but that may not be possible for people who haven’t started the Pfizer or Moderna’s two-shot COVID vaccine series. There is still enough time for people to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving if they do it by Wednesday, November 10.

Need to know more about your Thanksgiving travel destination? Johns Hopkins University has a map that allows users to search a state down to county-level. They provide information on transmission level, more detailed case information, as well as how many ICU beds are available and how many are occupied by COVID-positive patients.

Planning on visiting the nation’s capital over the Thanksgiving Holiday? The District of Columbia has a less than 3% seven-day average positivity rate and has been labeled an area of substantial COVID transmission by the CDC.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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