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Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest travel weekends, but nearly 47.5 million Americans will avoid road trips because of road congestion — costing the U.S. close to $30 billion and 248,000 jobs according to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association.

Why it matters: Most of the drivers surveyed said they would be willing to pay more to avoid road congestion, a public response that could prompt Congress to move faster on infrastructure development.

Key findings:

  • For every added hour of road congestion, there is an 18% drop in the number of Americans interested in traveling.
  • Two-thirds of travelers said they'd rather pay a few dollars each way of the trip than spend an added 1.5 to 2 hours in traffic.
  • Most drivers said an added gas tax would not deter them from traveling or negatively impact the experience.

Go deeper

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

8 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

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