For many of us, Thanksgiving signifies the beginning of the holiday season and, thus, a month of traveling to celebrate with friends and family. But, things will be different this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect countries around the world. To protect yourselves, your loved ones, and those around you from illness, it’s important to make informed decisions and take extra precautions when traveling this holiday season. Before you plan a trip, answer these questions:
1. Are the people I’m visiting at higher risk of getting sick?
- According to the CDC, people over the age of 60 and those with certain conditions (such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, and obesity) are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.
2. Have I been taking necessary precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the virus?
- In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. That means that if you’ve been participating in activities where social distancing is difficult or not possible (like indoor gatherings or riding public transportation every day), stop and think about whether you were being safe (i.e. wearing a mask and washing/sanitizing your hands after touching shared surfaces).
- You may also consider getting a COVID-19 nasal swab test a few days before traveling. Tests for those with no symptoms may be free or covered by your insurance, depending on where you live and who your insurance provider is. EmblemHealth members can learn more about what our plans are covering here.
3. Is there currently an outbreak in my area? Is there an outbreak in the area I’m traveling to?
- If you live in a CDC-designated COVID-19 “hot spot”, you will need to check local health and safety advisories before arranging travel. You should also check in with whomever you’re visiting to make sure they’re comfortable hosting you if you’re coming from a place with a high number of COVID-19 cases. Similarly, if you’re planning to visit loved ones in a hot spot, you will need to assess the situation and determine if it’s safe to travel to that location.
- Many states in the U.S. have strict quarantine policies in place for those visiting or returning from out-of-state. Be sure to research and follow these policies before and after your trip, as failing to do so may not only result in a fine but can also endanger others in your communities. Details on New York State’s COVID-19 travel advisory can be found here.
4. How will I get there?
- If you are traveling via public transportation (plane, train, bus) be sure to:
- Wear a mask at all times.
- Maintain as much distance between yourself and others as possible.
- Carry hand sanitizer and use it after touching shared surfaces.
- Disinfect your seat and the area around it.
- Refrain from eating onboard (if you do eat, be sure to bring your own snacks).
The holidays may be challenging this year for those who are not able to travel or host loved ones because of the pandemic. For ideas about how to celebrate together—even if you can’t be together physically—check out this blog from our partners at AdvantageCare Physicians.