NBC News correspondent Tom Costello shared a cautionary tale on Friday about a breakthrough COVID-19 case involving a vaccinated friend as millions of families are mulling over travel plans for Labor Day weekend.
Costello spoke on the 3rd hour of TODAY about how his plans to travel with his wife on Saturday for the holiday weekend got more complicated after spending time with friends a few days ago.
"Last weekend we had dinner outside with a fully vaccinated couple," Costello said. "Two days later, he calls me and he says, 'I'm COVID-positive, I'm a breakthrough case.' So now we're concerned because of course we're supposed to travel, supposed to see a family member who's immunocompromised."
Costello and his wife, Astrid, have since been getting daily antigen and PCR tests for COVID-19 ahead of their trip.
"We're going to double mask," he said while holding up a mask. "When we get there, we may self quarantine for a couple of days so that we're well past the risk period."
Breakthrough COVID-19 cases among vaccinated people are rare and the vaccines continue to offer strong protection against severe illness and hospitalization, according to research on more than 1 million people released on Wednesday.
However, Costello's situation highlights how even vaccinated people need to take some precautions to help protect others as the delta variant continues to spread across the country.
"But that's the problem with this delta variant," he said. "You just don't know. You may say, 'I'm fine, I'm safe, I'm vaccinated.' Yeah, but what if you carry it to someone who's compromised, you give it to a child who can't be vaccinated? The risks are so high."
Experts are emphasizing the importance of taking precautions during the holiday weekend like avoiding large gatherings and evaluating the vaccination status of others if you do decide to attend a large event, particularly in areas that are seeing an increase in cases or are dealing with low vaccination rates.
An estimated 43 million people are expected to travel over the holiday weekend, but the vast majority of them will be in vehicles and not airplanes, Costello reported. That's down about 10% from the pre-pandemic figure in 2019.
The uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations among young children, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates, may also have a chilling effect on families' travel plans this weekend. Vaccinations for children under 12 are currently not available.
"Twenty percent of the cases right now involve kids, and the ICUs and hospitals nationwide are filled with families and a lot of kids, so, boy, the risk is so great right now," Costello said. "And that's why so many families are saying, you know what, it's just not worth it. One more weekend, we stay in our own backyard, our own neighborhood and we try to make best."