NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The holiday travel rush is underway as Americans deal with soaring COVID numbers — New York State just set a new record with nearly 22,000 positive tests.

AAA predicts 110 million Americans will ultimately travel this season, many undeterred by the rising coronavirus infections. But health officials warn this is the start of another wave, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Sunday.

READ MORE: New York's COVID Rate Lowest Since December; CDC Report Suggests Omicron Was Here Earlier Than First Thought

Millions of Americans are headed home for the holidays, packing airports and filling roadways at near pre-pandemic levels. Fears of an Omicron variant surge are not enough to stop people from traveling.

“It makes me nervous, but I’m boosted,” one traveler said.


More than 2.2 million people passed through TSA security at airports across the country Friday, a jump of nearly 110% over last year.

More than one-third of the country is not fully vaccinated, let alone boosted.

“Are you worried about traveling safely with the Omicron variant spreading so quickly?” a traveler was asked.

“No, if I was I wouldn’t be going,” they said.

READ MORE: Poll: 80% Of New York City, Long Island Residents Believe Government Is Failing When It Comes To COVID-19 Testing

Delta is still the dominant variant fueling new infections in all but five states.

Health experts say the mutated Omicron variant is spreading fast and will soon overtake Delta. They fear the new strain will overwhelm health care systems in communities with low vaccination rates.

“Even if we have a spike or a surge that’s 25% of what it was last winter, we don’t have the capacity from space or staffing to deal with that,” said Dr. Thomas Yadegar of Providence Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

On Friday, new infections in New York surpassed 21,000. That’s the highest number of reported cases since the pandemic started and set up the second straight day with a new record.

FIND TESTING SITES: Click here for New York City’s testing site locator, including mobile sites and at-home appointments

AVOID THE LINES: Click here for NYC Health+Hospitals testing wait times

People across New York City are scrambling to get tested.

“That’s why everyone is getting tested, because the numbers are going up at an alarming rate and it’s scary,” said Deacon Raymond Perez of the First Spanish United Methodist Church.

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The state’s positivity rate is slowly, but steadily climbing. Health officials say the biggest spike is likely to come after New Year’s.

Christina Fan