CDC director: Unvaccinated Americans should avoid Labor Day travel
The CDC director recommends that vaccinated people wear masks while they travel over the Labor Day holiday, but urges the unvaccinated to stay home.
Staff video, USA TODAY
Traveling for Labor Day? You might face long lines of traffic.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising unvaccinated Americans to stay home this Labor Day weekend, traffic in certain corridors is expected to spike between Sept. 2 and 7 as travelers take advantage of the three-day weekend, according to transportation analytics company INRIX.
“Thursday and Friday are the toughest days, for sure, as you’re heading out of town,” INRIX analyst Bob Pishue told USA TODAY. “It’s that kind of early afternoon period all the way into the early evening,” which often overlaps with work traffic and people running errands.
For those who are planning to travel by car this year, here are some of the best – and worst – times to hit the road, according to INRIX:
- Thursday: worst time is between 1 and 9 p.m., best time is after 9 p.m.
- Friday: worst time is between noon and 8:30 p.m., best time is before 10 a.m.
- Saturday: worst time is between noon and 5 p.m., best time is before 11 a.m.
- Sunday: worst time is between noon and 4 p.m., best time is before 10 a.m.
- Monday: worst time is between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., best time is before 11 a.m.
- Tuesday: worst time is between 2 and 9 p.m., best time is after 9 p.m.
While more Americans are expected to hit the road this weekend, travel isn’t expected to return to 2019 levels and will likely pale compared to earlier holidays like July Fourth and Memorial Day that were driven by pent-up demand. Pishue said the rise of the delta variant and start of the school year are expected to keep more families off the roads.
“Normally, (Labor Day) is a big travel holiday but we think that … there’s going to be less emphasis on it this year than in some of these other holidays,” Pishue said. “We definitely expect a pretty … minor traffic impact due this labor day, except on some key corridors.”
The worst corridors for traffic between Sept. 2 and 7:
- Washington, D.C.’s Interstate 95 South from Interstate 395 to Virginia state Route 123: a 420% increase in traffic is expected from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. on Thursday.
- New York’s Interstate 278 South from Interstate 495 to 3rd Avenue: a 350% increase is expected from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
- Seattle’s Interstate 5 South from state Route 18 to state Route 7: a 330% increase from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m. is expected on Friday.
- Atlanta’s Interstate 85 South from U.S. 23 to Martin Luther King Dr.: a 320% increase in traffic is expected on Friday from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m.
- Detroit’s Interstate 96 North from 6 Mile Road to Beck Road: a 250% increase is expected between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
- Los Angeles’ Interstate 5 South from San Fernando Road to Florence Ave: a 230% increase from 4:45 to 6:45 p.m. is expected on Friday.
- San Francisco’s Interstate 80 North from Interstate 580 to San Pablo Dam Road: a 220% increase is expected from 4:30 to 6:40 p.m. on Friday.
- Chicago’s Interstate 290 East from U.S. 12 to Morgan Street: a 180% increase is expected between 4 and 6 p.m. on Thursday.
- Houston’s Interstate 69 East from Interstate 160 to U.S. 10: a 110% increase from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. is expected on Friday.
- Boston’s state Route 3/Pilgrims Highway from U.S. 44 to Interstate 93: a 170% increase in traffic is expected on Tuesday from 7 to 9 a.m.
► How to have a safe Labor Day: What you need to celebrate Labor Day weekend safely amid delta variant concerns
► CDC travel guidance: Unvaccinated people should not travel Labor Day weekend
Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.