Relief nurses head home from Green Bay, express apprehension but confidence in travel safety over Thanksgiving


GREEN BAY, Wisc., (WFRV) – Millions of Americans are taking to the roads and skies this Thanksgiving despite the warning about COVID-19.

As Local 5 discovered Wednesday at Austin Straubel Airport, some have to fly.

“I try to avoid too many people,” explains Judy Banda. “Aside from that, I feel pretty safe on the airlines.”

Banda was one of two nurses we met who were traveling home after providing back up to fatigued medical center workers here in Northeast Wisconsin.

“Our colleagues don’t get a break,” says Laura Straub. “They get sick, they’re still working. So it’s hard.”

Every where you looked at Austin Straubel, masks were seen on the passengers and workers alike.

With a smaller airport like this, social distancing appears more readily possible.

But these medical professionals say the price of safety has cost in other ways.

“It’s a big barrier that you don’t have facial expressions and touch,” admitted Banda. “I’ve been a nurse 30 years and it’s a big deficit, professionally and personally.”

With no signs of COVID-19 cases flattening and more folks wearing Personal Protective Equipment or PPE, Straub does worry about having enough supplies both at work and while heading home.

She says the airlines try to space out passengers, but you never really know until take off.

“Obviously, there’s a run on PPE,” Straub tells Local 5 News. “It’s not just nursing. It’s everywhere. So there’s always that apprehension.”

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