By Cristina Mendez

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — ‘Tis the season to gather, but Johns Hopkins asks that you do so safely if you plan to travel.

With hospitalizations reaching 1,345 as of Tuesday in Maryland, strained hospital systems are concerned over upcoming holiday travel and the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

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“I think a lot of people are trying to do the responsible thing by going and getting tested before they engage in holiday activities, visiting family and traveling,” said Beth Blauer, the Associate Vice Provost for Public Sector Innovation.

If you have a flight taking off from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, COVID-19 tests are available at the FirstCall Medical Center inside the main terminal. The center is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can use a self-check-in system online.

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The Maryland Department of Health is also giving out free at-home COVID test kits to people who return from international travel.

“With more and more cases, you’re going to see the health system strained, we’re going to see hospitalizations going up, we’re going to see more people needing some of that frontline care. So the more you can limit your interactions or make those interactions as safe as possible, the better your family is and the better our communities are,” Blauer said.

Receiving your COVID-19 shot series and a booster remains the most effective way in preventing serious illness from the virus, Blauer added.

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According to TSA, officers screened more than 2,098,540 people at airport security checkpoints across the country. Monday marked the fifth straight day of checkpoint volumes above 2 million.

Cristina Mendez