Health experts warn against holiday travel, unnecessary COVID testing

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Health experts are urging caution ahead of the holiday season, asking that you think twice about traveling - and getting unnecessary COVID-19 tests.

The Philadelphia International Airport looked more like a ghost town than a major travel hub on Monday.

But as desolate as things look at the terminals, travelers we met with say it's not a totally accurate representation of what's happing in the skies.

"The flights are not less full. They are definitely crowded on the airplane, but they're clean," said Kimberly Bennett from Greenville South Carolina.

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With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, governments across the country are asking families to sacrifice usual get-togethers to slow the spread of rising cases of COVID-19.

So are health workers on the front line, like travel nurse Sheena Seijo from Vineland, New Jersey.

"Don't travel unless you really need to," she said.

Seijo discouraged those looking to get tested with the intention of traveling or gathering together.

"If you're not having symptoms and absolutely don't need to travel, it just makes it harder for those that actually need to get the test done," she added.

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Action News stopped by two testing sites on Monday with considerable traffic: one at Camden County College that required an appointment and certain criteria like exposure; and a free walk/drive up one in Delaware County, Pennsylvania where the recommendation is testing for those that truly need it.

Jefferson Health Doctor Patricia Henwood, who leads the Emergency Medicine COVID-19 Task Force, says even if you decide to get tested before travel you may not get much out of it.

"It doesn't predict the onset of disease. So, even if you had a negative test today, tomorrow you could be tested and be positive," Henwood said.

The Philadelphia Department of Health is also not recommending people get tested just because they can, but do want people tested if they have been around a person who is confirmed to have COVID, if they are experiencing symptoms, or spent time near a large crowd seven days ago.
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