For many families, fall offers a great time to travel with beautiful weather. The COVID-19 pandemic is now challenging people to consider their risk and how to travel safely before leaving home.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers travel information meant to keep you and the people around you safe. Regulations and state-to-state travel information can change very suddenly. Travelers need to monitor updates regularly before a trip, and even while traveling.
Just because you get in a car and cross a state line does not mean you are at risk for getting COVID-19. Travel risk can be lessened by preparing in advance and making good choices along the way. Consider these tips:
- An important first step – check out the CDC travel guidelines. Anyone who travels should regularly monitor state and city positivity rates, noting significant increases in cases. Be aware of the risks for visiting certain areas and make travel plans in areas where the population is less dense (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html).
- Consider a COVID Test before you leave and when you return. Depending on your travel destination, COVID testing 72 hours before departure may allow you to skip quarantine in destinations where it is required and reassure your fellow travelers. While not mandated in Kentucky, testing when you return gives you, your employer, and others you interact with regularly confidence that you are not spreading the virus when you return.
- Mask – in the car, in the air, in attractions. If you are in an indoor space with strangers – people you do not live or work with daily – you should wear a mask. The mask must cover both your mouth and nose. If you decide to fly, mask during the entire flight. While airlines are taking extraordinary efforts to sanitize, the airflow and confined space create greater risk. Among those risks are the contacts you – and the people sitting around you on your flight – make getting to the airport and through the security gate. The airlines are very concerned with safety. However, most epidemiologists are not flying at all this year!
- Wash your hands and use sanitizer regularly. Avoid touching your nose and mouth. Make sure all your travelers have sanitizers to put in pockets, purses and in the car. Take cleansing wipes to use in the car, restaurants, and hotels.
- Consider timing of visiting attractions. As you plan your trip, consider visits to any attractions during their less busy hours of the day. Plan more activities in the outdoors.
In Kentucky, a 14-day quarantine is recommended upon return from travel to a higher risk area. Other states recommend a one-week quarantine and a COVID-19 test. Proper quarantining means staying in your home, either to yourself or with the people you live with. Do not go out in public, to a grocery store or to church. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been asked to quarantine should not be in social situations or within six feet of others.
If you plan to travel this fall, make sure you consider not only your personal risk, but the risk level of your plans before you hit the road.