Roads less traveled: COVID curtails holiday driving


25% fewer Oregonians are driving to their holiday destinations

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Local leaders around the country have been urging people to stay home this holiday season to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. If the traffic is any indication, many people are heeding that suggestion.

AAA said 96% of Americans who are travelling are driving, but 25% fewer Oregonians are driving to their holiday destinations this year. Still, people hit the roads to see their family for Christmas with a lighter amount of traffic to contend with.

Jeanie Baldwin said her family was headed to Washington to see their son.

“On the way to Seattle it was great until we got to Tacoma,” she said. “On the way back it’s been wonderful, except for the rain. But, Oregon, so whatever.”

They were being extra careful, wearing masks and having a small celebration. Baldwin said they feel safe “because we usually get a test and take our temperature and we’re very homebound all of us. We have grandchildren.”

Teri Strauss is on the road to see her daughter. Their holiday will also look very different.

“We eat at separate tables and cook in separate parts of the kitchen,” she said.

Before the pandemic she said she saw her grandkids every few weeks. Since then, she hasn’t seen them often. So they, too, have been cautious leading up to this holiday.

“My daughter works from home and goes home very seldom, and we do the same,” she said.

Portland International Airport officials told KOIN 6 News fewer people are flying, too, about 73% fewer people are flying this year than over the holiday last year.

“Be safe, it’s real,” Strauss said. “We need to take care of each other and Oregon, I think, is doing a good job.”

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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