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Last minute travelers head to South Florida airports despite health official warnings to stay home

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It was quieter at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport early Christmas morning than it had been the previous days. Christmas Eve was a different story.

Last minute travelers filled the Spirit Airlines terminal, despite recommendations from health officials for Americans to stay home due to COVID-19.

Nahomie Henri and her family were getting ready to board a flight to Texas.

“My sister-in-law, my husband’s sister, she just had surgery, so we had to go see her. Yes, we are worried, we are nervous but, hey, it’s family,” she said.

Frank Evans flew to Fort Lauderdale from Seattle. He said he plans to travel around the state and eventually go to Key West.

“I’ve actually got shorts and a T-shirt packed in a bag, so I was kind of expecting something to be a little bit more, uh, more, um, warmer. But it’s OK, you know. We’re in Florida. We’re not dealing with the Seattle rain.”

South Florida’s two major airports, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and Miami International report that the past few days have seen the most amount of people traveling since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, more than 5 million people passed through the nation’s airport security checkpoints between Friday and Tuesday.

That is down around 60 percent from the same time last year. But it amounts to around a million passengers per day, or about what the U.S. saw in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, when some Americans likewise disregarded warnings and ended up contributing to the nationwide surge.

The busiest day at area airports is expected to be people flying in and out of South Florida on Jan. 2., just after New Year’s.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

About the Author:

Madeleine Wright is a general assignment reporter for Local 10 News. She joined the team in March 2017.