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Indianapolis International Airport braces for holiday travel amid pandemic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Millions of Americans are preparing to head out of town for Thanksgiving and travel despite the warning from public health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many local leaders have urged people to stay home to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Despite the warnings, TSA says Indianapolis International Airport is expecting almost 8,000 travelers on Wednesday. That’s a 50% decrease from 2019, but with the number of COVID-19 cases rising in central Indiana TSA has cause for concern.

“So, you will see more hand sanitizing stations, the airport is providing free masks if someone forgets and you’ll see more signage to remind people to social distance,” said TSA Federal Security Director of Indiana Aaron Batt.

Batt is advising travelers to plan ahead and avoid checking in luggage if possible to limit interaction.

“Check IND.com, you can get updates on TSA wait times and parking availability, anything to help navigate the process quickly and while social distancing,” added Batt.

Batt said 99% of travelers during the pandemic have been getting through to their gates in less than 10 minutes. But social distancing at security is averaging around four feet which is something TSA plans to enforce Wednesday.

“The airport has installed technology in addition to the wait time, it also allows us to measure social distancing of people and get alerts through our staff so we can move resources around to help reduce that,” said Batt.

On Wednesday morning, most people were wearing a mask and some felt comfortable traveling on a busy day during a pandemic.

“Thanksgiving is about family, and that’s what we are going to do. Our two sons are in Texas and we feel OK with it,” said traveler Pat Preston, who lives in Carmel.

Batt’s message is if people choose to travel and not follow the CDC warnings, it’s up to airport staff to create the safest environment possible.

“Wear the mask, get your luggage quickly and navigate through the airport safely until you’re outside the airport,” said Batt.

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