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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Still Somewhat Leary Of COVID, Travelers Hit The Road

Mark Heyne
Most people will drive to their destination this summer according to AAA.

Expect heavy traffic this weekend as Memorial Day travel inches back to pre-pandemic levels. And it's only the beginning. A new AAA survey finds 61 percent of Ohioans are considering or planning to take a trip this summer.

The start of summer travel kicks off this weekend and AAA Spokeswoman Jenifer Moore says the numbers show we are nearly back to 2019 when a record number of people hit the road. One-point-four million will travel fifty miles or more by car.

Where are people going?

Popular destinations include places you can be outside. "Orlando, Florida is always a hot spot. Anywhere where there are beaches are hot spots for travelers. Also national parks are big now. They became really popular over the last year with the pandemic," she says.

How long are they staying?

Vacationers are also looking to stretch out their time away. It's not just a long weekend but four to eight days. "There's this idea of revenge travel where many Ohioans who were at home, dreaming of going somewhere last year but could not, now they really want to take advantage of the opportunity," according to Moore.

She says people want to take time to rest and relax after a stressful year.

Travelers are still taking COVID precautions

While more people are traveling they are staying in their COVID bubbles. "A lot of them are still having some reservations about COVID. Twenty-three percent says they still have travel related concerns. Thirty-two percent say they have some concerns about any activities happening near their destination." She says, That's why we really stress the importance of planning when you're thinking about going somewhere."

Nationally, of the 37 million traveling this weekend, AAA says 34 million of them will drive. That's a 60 percent jump from last year.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.