Traveling in times of COVID
by Tim Weaver, FNP
The holiday season is rapidly approaching and, for many of us, this means traveling to see family and friends or a vacation. As with the rest of 2020, this holiday season is going to be different. Quite different.
Our typical schedule of holiday parties and festivals no doubt will be a lot lighter, and many holiday trips may not be practical. As the world and our nation are still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, is it safe for us to travel? And, if we do travel, what precautions should we take?
As of late October, 31 states and several countries continue to see dramatic rises in new cases. Why? Many people believe that “pandemic fatigue” is a large cause for the increased cases as people start gathering in small groups and returning to restaurants and bars that are now allowing full capacity. Health experts consider these group gatherings as the cause for much of the community spread that is occurring.
What does this mean for holiday travel?
If traveling by commercial air, train or bus, be aware that there are mask mandates, social distancing guidelines and fewer options for departure and arrival times than typical. If you want to travel internationally, remember, many countries still have travel restrictions often requiring COVID-19 testing before travel and/or a 14-day quarantine once you arrive.
Many people just drive to see family, but guidelines and restrictions vary greatly from state to state. A quick internet search for COVID restrictions or a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website can provide the most current information.
Regardless if that drive is 30 minutes or 10 hours away, it might not be such a great idea this year. Holiday gatherings with family outside those you live with still need to be socially distanced. A couple of days of close contact in a family setting can be just as worrisome as going to a social gathering. Even if everyone has been tested recently the chance still exists for COVID 19 spread.
If you do decide to travel this holiday season, keep these tips in mind:
- Research all of the current guidelines for the area you are traveling to ahead of time.
- Try not to travel to areas with recent increases in community spread.
- Wear your mask.
- Keep hand sanitizer close by for frequent use.
- Do not travel if you have ANY symptoms or just don’t feel well.
- Travel with a hard-surface sanitizing spray or wipes to wipe down hotel rooms, restaurant tables or your seat on the plane.
We have all struggled through this pandemic, and we may just want some normalcy for the holidays. But I doubt any of us want to be a part of spreading the virus. This year might be the time to stay home with close family and maybe do a video chat with your loved ones who live afar.
Just think, it might be the best way to keep everyone healthy, and it provides a great excuse to avoid those awkward holiday meal-time conversations!
Tim Weaver is a family nurse practitioner at the HopeHealth Medical Plaza in Florence. He is certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and is one of 100 individuals named a Palmetto Gold Nurse in 2017. He is a native of Darlington. With more than 20 years of experience in health care, Weaver has a passion for bringing cutting-edge care and training to his patients in rural areas