Travelers share why COVID-19 won’t affect their holiday

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — This year, people have been advised to stay at home during the holiday season.

However some people decided being with family could not wait.

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“I really don’t think people in Tennessee take it very seriously,” said Carla Lewis, a Knoxville resident.

Government and health officials have advised people to not travel this holiday season. After speaking with travelers stopped at a rest area on Interstate 40, they all outweighed visiting family over potentially being exposed to the virus.

“Since the pandemic, we haven’t really traveled much at all, but we’re going to check on an elderly relative,” said Rob Lillard, a Nashville resident.

“I haven’t seen my family in over a year,” Lewis said.

Lillard says his family got tested before they left and packed all of their personal protective equipment to travel safely. However, once on the road, they noticed a larger amount of travelers than expected.

“I would say that the traffic is a little heavier than I thought it was going to be, and so it looks like more people are traveling,” Lillard said.

Some travelers said they felt driving was safer because they spend most of their time in the car. The only time they needed to protect themselves was on stops.

“I see in a lot of stores, people go in anyway. They don’t care, they don’t wear a mask. You know, have consideration for others. If you don’t want to wear it, at least stay away from people,” said Jeff Tucker, an Ohio resident.

Interstate 40 Madison County

The people traveling that we talked to were driving long distances, with some from Ohio, Texas, Nashville, Louisiana and more.

In fact, one Los Angeles, California resident says he traveled here to visit family and for an escape.

“I think it was extremely worth it because, being from California, I guess there are not a lot of privileges y’all have here. In regarding to COVID-19, we’re extremely locked down, and I guess it was kind of nice to get a break from everything that’s going on over there,” said Jonathon Hernandez, from California.

Although the people we talked to on Wednesday made the decision to travel, those drivers still say they expect numbers to rise after the holiday.

“I know people are being more cautious. I guess that will be a good indicator of how cautious we were,” Lillard said.

Government and health officials advise those celebrating holidays to stay home.

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