Health officials encourage COVID-19 testing for travelers heading home after Christmas

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- While many federal and local health officials urged Americans not to travel this holiday season, plenty of people headed home after Christmas Sunday at Philadelphia International Airport.

"It's been a really long time, especially with COVID, since I've seen my family," said Kevin Malachefski from San Diego, Ca. "So it wasn't really like an option in my mind that I wasn't going to come back home for Christmas."

Colin Huggins from Ventnor, N.J., said, "You would think that they'd be social distancing on the planes and stuff, but they're like right next to each other still...I think my flight is fully packed today."

While holiday travel is down this year, the TSA still screened about seven million people in the week before Christmas.

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U.S. Surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams says he's worried about the number of people traveling and urges people to get tested if they did.

"You should definitely stay away from vulnerable people - your grandmother, your aunt - over the next 14 days or so if you traveled, so you don't give them coronavirus from your holiday gathering," said Adams on "This Week" Sunday.

At 30th Street Station, some folks waited for Amtrak Regional Rail and noticed a lighter crowd.

"I left on Christmas Eve, and I took Amtrak. Honestly, it was relatively smooth. I think with the pandemic, there have been less travelers, so that was fairly efficient," said Lawrence Laska from Queens, N.Y., who came to Philadelphia to visit friends.

Sylvia R. from Brooklyn, N.Y., whose trip to Philadelphia was a last-minute one, said, "I've completely quarantined... I haven't been going out or doing anything. This my first trip out in the last two weeks. I just missed my family."

As a new variant of the virus has emerged, a new order from the CDC takes effect Monday, requiring a negative COVID-19 test for travelers coming to the U.S. from the United Kingdom.
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