COVID-19 cases set records as holiday travelers return to North Carolina

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Most air travelers who returned to Raleigh-Durham International Airport from holiday destinations appeared relaxed. But while they were away, key COVID-19 metrics kept rising. Sunday's report from health authorities revealed alarming results, including a record number of patients in hospitals for treatment.

Among the crowds moving through Terminal 2 were psychotherapist Graciella Rust and her family. She knows many people ignored appeals to avoid out of town travel because of the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus, but said she understands why those who are growing impatient with restrictions want to move about while staying safe.

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Travel during the holidays continues to take off to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic and in the short term that may not be good news.

"If you want to travel, it's possible, but it's very important to keep with the guidelines which are very simple," she said. "Keep your mask, your hand sanitizer, and keep your social distance. Because I don't think wearing a mask is a difficult thing to do, compared to being hospitalized. So it's not something complicated. It's easy to take care of each other if we keep our masks on."

She said they did that and spent much of their time in Florida outside in the fresh air, not inside or in crowded places where the risk of exposure is higher.
Now that they're back home, she said "We're going to quarantine for at least two weeks at home. The kids are gonna do homeschooling for one entire week, and I will monitor their symptoms as well. Just to take care of ourselves, and our community."

The latest metrics are a grim reminder that we are far from done with the health threat posed by COVID-19.
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