by Photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

Coronavirus continues to surge throughout the nation with lax protections, and the price of gasoline continues to reach record highs, but transportation experts predict pre-pandemic levels of travel this Memorial Day weekend. 

The unofficial start to the summer is busy this year as the American Automobile Association predicts 39.2 million people will travel 50 miles or more, an increase of 8.3 percent over 2021. These numbers reflect travel volumes almost in line with those of 2017. 

This prediction comes shortly before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved the County into a medium-risk level for COVID-19. However, San Diegans still have an increased chance of contracting the disease as the county’s Health and Human Services Agency reported a 26 percent increase of cases compared to the week prior. 

County health authorities reported 1,897 new COVID-19 infections and four additional deaths Thursday, reflecting an up-ticking trend. Only Tuesday saw fewer than 1,000 new infections with 917. A total of 8,854 cases were reported to the county during the past
week, compared to 7,008 the week prior. 

The numbers only represent the cases reported to the county and hospitals, warned health authorities. The number may be much higher as the proliferation of at-home tests increases. 

The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus infection in San Diego County was 170, with 26 being treated in intensive care, according to the latest state data.

However, the AAA said it expects this Memorial day weekend to be the busiest in two years, building on an upward trend that began earlier this spring. 

“This year’s forecast marks the second-highest single-year increase in travelers since 2010 (2021 was the highest), bringing volumes almost in line with pre-pandemic levels,” the AAA wrote in a statement. 

“Despite historic gas prices, breaching the $4 mark in early March, 34.9 million people plan to travel by car, up 4.6% over last year. A greater portion of travelers are opting for air and other modes of travel than in the previous years,” the association continued. 

In San Diego County, the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline rose to $6.046, the AAA reported. The national average price rose two-tenths of a cent to a record $4.601. The national average has set records 16 times in the last 19 days.

County elected officials highlighted COVID-19 treatment options throughout the region Thursday as numbers continue to rise. San Diego City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell said she never thought she would be a patient at the first Monoclonal Antibody Regional Center (MARC) in Clairmont. 

“With COVID cases rising again, San Diegans should know COVID antibody treatments are safe, free thanks to President Biden's American Rescue Plan and very effective at keeping COVID cases mild,'' said. “…It saved my life, and I want every San Diego senior to know this effective, free treatment is available to them too.''

The county delivered its first monoclonal treatment on Feb. 9, 2021, and is expecting to surpass the 10,000th treatment administered in the next few days. 

There are MARC locations in Clairmont, Vista, Hillcrest, and Chula Vista open to the public. By making an appointment, patients can receive the most current antiviral pill or the Monoclonal Antibody Treatment. To make an appointment, call 619-685-2500.

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