North Texas health officials remind those traveling for Labor Day to take COVID-19 precautions

With the COVID-19 delta variant surge continuing to tighten available hospital beds and staff across North Texas, Labor Day holiday travel is now a topic of urgent concern.

"This certainly has the potential of delaying the peak," Dr. Rajesh Nandy, with UNT Health Science Center.

Whether holiday plans involve air travel or a road trip, people - both vaccinated and unvaccinated - are strongly urged to take precautions.

Dr. Nandy points out nearly half the current ICU patients in North Texas have COVID-19.

"That’s a really high percentage, so that means not only are people getting sick from COVID, they are getting really sick," he explained.

Dr. Nandy said it’s important to stress personal responsibility, including the current CDC guidelines for individuals and families both vaccinated and unvaccinated, which is: "fully vaccinated people are recommended to always wear a mask while traveling and at large gatherings, to social distance and to isolate, monitor and get tested after traveling if symptoms arise."

For unvaccinated people, the same recommendations apply, with added suggestions to avoid crowds and to get tested before and after travel.

RELATED: UT Southwestern: COVID hospitalizations will peak next month, but forecast shows improvements

Dr. Nandy said Labor Day travel will increase the number of new cases in the coming weeks, which could cloud perspectives in measuring progress of controlling the spread.

"We were expecting to see the peak like in another 2-3 weeks but that may prolong it for another couple of weeks," Dr. Nandy said. "Again, it depends on the behavior of people. As you said, people will go out, people will not abandon their plans, but still they can take certain safety measures."