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PDX travelers react to new COVID-19 variant


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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — President Joe Biden spoke Monday morning about the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, saying it’s “cause for concern, not a cause for panic.” So far, the Omicron variant has not been detected in the United States.

The news of a new variant comes after a big Thanksgiving holiday weekend for air travel for people in the Pacific Northwest and across the U.S. More than twice as many travelers passed through the Portland International Airport this year compared to last.

It was a huge boom for the travel industry and for those who’ve largely stayed home for the last 20 months. Those who traveled say they did so feeling protected by mask mandates, and feeling comfortable and confident because they had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine – many had also received a booster shot.

But did the new variant spreading across the globe concern travelers about to take flight?

“No, no, not at all,” one traveler at PDX said.

“We’re vaccinated, we’re careful. We stay away from people as much as we can,” said another traveler.

Many Americans are just ready to move on.

“Something’s going to get you in the end. I ain’t worried about it,” one traveler told FOX 12.

Lisa Hutter told FOX 12 that she’s still very concerned.

“Well, it just seems like there’s one variant after the next and it just won’t go away and it’s just, it really beat me up, you know,” said Hutter. “I’m a different person. I’m afraid of things, you know, and so forth, and I never used to feel that way.”

Health officials don’t yet know how infectious or severe the Omicron variant may be, or how well the vaccines will protect people from it. The Delta variant was highly contagious and there were break-through cases.

Hutter worries about what is not known about the Omicron variant, and she admits she’s unsure about her travel plans for the next holiday.

“Well, we already set up Christmas, so we’re probably going to go ahead and do it,” she said, “Unless something horrendous shows up in the news between now and then.”

FOX 12 asked PDX officials if they had predictions yet for Christmas travel. They say it’s too soon to say but a lot can change in the coming weeks.

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