In this series, we check in with people using Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) for essential travel. While leisure travel has been largely put on hold during COVID-19 as we all work together to limit interactions and flatten the curve, we know some of you need to travel for work, family, emergencies, and other reasons that can’t wait. We are here for you now and whenever you are ready to return.
Cheryl Woodall has lived in Fernandina Beach, Florida for the past six years, keeping books for her husband’s business and crafting her own creations as a custom seamstress. Woodall’s son, Robby, who is in the United States Army, has lived across the country in Tacoma since 2018. Prior to the pandemic, Cheryl and her husband David tried to visit once or twice a year during his block of leave before or after each deployment.
Woodall had been avoiding air travel during COVID-19, but when her daughter-in-law Savannah broke her foot this fall while learning how to skateboard, Robby was out of the country on a deployment and she had no family in the area to support her. Woodall came to the rescue immediately; she bought a plane ticket and made the trip across the country to Seattle to help out. Savannah was having a hard time getting around and having some assistance around the house made a big difference. As a result of a fall she had broken two bones in her foot. The injury required surgery and metal plates to hold the bones in place. A couple coworkers and friends helped Savannah get to surgery and handled her immediate needs until Woodall was able to get there. Savannah later spent two weeks in a soft cast and used a knee scooter for four to six weeks.
Woodall was a little nervous about flying, but she took extra precautions at the airport and during her flight. She was careful to not touch anything, washed her hands often, and used hand sanitizer. At SEA, Woodall saw signs everywhere, reminding people that masks are required, and to keep six feet from others. She saw hand sanitizer stations placed throughout the airport and when ordering food from a restaurant, took her food to-go and looked for a quiet, uncrowded space. She noticed SEA staff working hard to keep the airport bathrooms clean.
“Everyone was keeping to themselves,” she said. “I normally like to talk to people and introduce myself, so it was a noticeable difference for me.”
Staying close to home
Normally, Woodall likes to find a yarn shop when she is traveling but due to Washington state’s COVID-19 restrictions, many retail shops were closed. During Woodall’s visit, additional restrictions on indoor dining in Washington state went into effect. Woodall and Savannah mostly ate at home, but some restaurants were set up to serve people outdoors. Other than a trip on the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, Woodall mostly kept busy at home working on knitting projects, watching Netflix, taking care of Savannah’s four dogs, and doing chores around the house. Woodall narrowly missed seeing her son during the visit; he returned home to Tacoma two days after she returned to Florida.
Once it’s safe, Woodall hopes to make plans to see her son in Tacoma and other family members in Georgia. Prior to COVID, Woodall had planned on attending a sewing retreat in England.
“I had been hoping to make a vacation out of it; hopefully they’ll be able to redo it sometime later this year,” she said. “My husband also won a trip to Japan through work so hopefully we’ll be able to do that. Right now we’re in a holding pattern until we see what happens.”