Is it safe to travel right now? What health experts are doing for the holidays this year


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When health expert Thomas Russo spoke to USA TODAY in early October, the end of the pandemic seemed to be within reach.

“I’m really looking forward to the day, and I don’t think we’re far away. I think most of this will be very early in 2022, behind us,” said Buffalo University. Russo, the chief of the department, said the infectious disease at the time.

Since then, new concerns have emerged, the predominant coronavirus variants in the United States have increased, countries around the world have announced new entry requirements, and tourist hotspots have been closed again. It was taken over immediately. It’s been almost two years since the pandemic broke out, and I feel like it’s almost back to square.

So does that mean you should cancel your next trip for a vacation?

Some consider postponing the plan, but health experts say there is a safe way to travel this holiday season.

Kelly Althof, associate professor of epidemiology at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: “(But) everyone must be aware that the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 has increased the risk. With that in mind, the decision-making process needs to be run again.”

Do I need to travel for Christmas?

Unlike last year, the federal government has not issued a warning for vacation trips. Officials warn that breakthrough cases may occur in Omicron, but vaccinations and masks can help protect travelers from infections and serious illnesses.

Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s leading infectious disease experts, said on Sunday at NBC’s Meet the Press, vacation trips are possible if people are “wise”, even if they are likely to be infected. Said. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Americans can safely celebrate their vacation with family and friends.

Health professionals tend to agree that it is okay to get together with family and friends for a vacation and, if done correctly, is good for mental health. Please be aware that this year’s rally may require special precautions such as testing, wearing masks, vaccinations and booster shots.

Chris Baylor, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told USA Today: “People need to get together with their loved ones. They just need to try to do it safely.”

Althoff suggests that travelers consider the risks before joining the trip. The risk to those who are vaccinated against booster shots and who gather with people who are properly wearing masks in public is reduced.

“Your risk when booking this trip is now different, so it’s important to remember it, especially with risk factors that could lead to someone or a more serious illness. If you are traveling with someone who is, “Altov said. .. “Now it is very important to add several layers of protection.”

Baylor said travelers should be tested for coronavirus before visiting others.During a free home test from Federal government Not available until January. For some retailers, rapid antigen testing is as low as $ 14 for two packs and takes less than 15 minutes to get results.

This is a particularly useful safeguard when visiting people with immunodeficiency or who are not yet qualified as boosters.

Beyrer and other experts also say it’s best to keep indoor gatherings small.

“I think this will be part of the way we all manage holidays,” Baylor said.

It may not be an easy decision, but Health expert He says it may be wise to delay the trip.

“Even if people absolutely need to travel, they can travel with all precautions,” said Lee Riley, chairman of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Vaccines at the University of California, Berkeley. I am. public health.. “If you’re traveling by plane, I probably won’t do that unless you need to get together with your family or have some business trip. Wait a minute until you know more about Omicron.”

Altov agreed that, in some circumstances, postponing the trip may be the best call.

“I’m thinking about how many more vacations I’ll have with my family, who I haven’t seen in two years (with travelers), who are older,” said Altov. “(Others) you know, we’re going to stick near the house and try a spring trip.”

What a vacation looks like to a health professional

Baylor will meet with his family for this year’s vacation, but only with those who are fully vaccinated with booster shots.

“We are backing Christmas,” he said. “(Then) there’s a small dinner party for New Year’s Eve that I’m hosting, everyone is excited, the numbers are kept at 12, and we don’t go dancing like we used to.”

Riley has canceled a regular year-end lab party with students due to Omicron’s surge, but will meet with less than 12 people at Christmas.

“My wife is pregnant, so we are more worried and more careful,” he said.

Altov, who continued outdoor vacation activities such as beaches and hikes with his family when the children were not yet vaccinated, said he had a small gathering with his family at Thanksgiving. She will never be with her family again this year.

“Given the fact that everyone else was vaccinated and boosted, we felt comfortable (together at Thanksgiving),” she said on Tuesday. “But Omicron changed it all.”

Russo, whose biggest trip in 2021 was a Hawaiian vacation focused on outdoor activities such as patio dining, also has a modest festival. While he had two children flying from the West Coast, both boosted, Russo admitted that he could have a breakthrough infection.

“Once you get home, you probably won’t do much,” he said. “Of course, I’m not going to go to an indoor restaurant with a mask indoors …. I might consider going to a movie theater, but then I wouldn’t wear a mask for popcorn or drinks all the time.”

Is it okay to fly now?

For those traveling on vacation, Russo says it is safest to travel in a private car. Airlines are the best option after other public transportation systems that do not have the same quality of air filtration, such as buses and trains.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, most new model planes filter recycled air through a HEPA filter that captures 99.9% of particles containing larger viruses and virus masses.

The federal mask obligation, which requires masks on airport planes, planes and other public transport until March 18, also helps reduce the risk of infection.

However, there are risks on the plane, especially if many passengers are strongly opposed to masking up. Russo said there are ways travelers can take special precautions.

If the plane distributes drinks and food to passengers, Russo suggests that you wait at least 10 minutes to remove the mask and eat. This allows other passengers to spend more time finishing their meals and wearing masks before their masks come off.

He also suggests strategically eating and drinking to minimize the amount of time the mask is off.

“For short flights, it’s a good idea to wear a mask all the time,” he said. “If you feel you have to go ahead and do it, if it’s a longer flight, all you can do is take that bite or bite while you’re chewing and then put the mask back on. It means that you can return to. “

Riley suggests checking the COVID infection rate at the destination before flying to the destination. As of Monday, the CDC’s list of countries with “very high” COVID risk includes 88 countries, including popular destinations such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France, and within the United States such as New York. Has its own destinations that are experiencing a COVID surge. ..

Negative coronavirus tests are not required for flights within the United States. Only international flights to the country require a negative virus test at least one day before travel. Riley said it might be a good idea to take a test to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

“We have to be more careful,” he said. “We also need to be careful about where we go, especially if there are people at the destination who may not be fully vaccinated or who are immunosuppressed.”

Can you enjoy your vacation safely?Experts provide COVID tips

© 2021 USA Today
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Quote: Is it okay to travel now? What health professionals are doing this year’s vacation (December 22, 2021) is from 2021 Obtained December 22, 2014.

This document is subject to copyright. No part may be reproduced without written permission, except for fair transactions for personal investigation or research purposes. Content is provided for informational purposes only.

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