Risk vs. Reward
Rethinking going home for the holidays
By Elaine Marotta
As cases of Covid-19 continue to surge nationwide, families are reconsidering how they will ring in the joys of the holiday season. Some are relying on technology for virtual get-togethers and reconnecting with relatives and friends — in lieu of hosting large gatherings or traveling outside their area.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended celebrating the season at home with those who live with you. Getting together with friends and relatives outside your immediate household can increase the chance of contracting or spreading Covid-19. Even college students with no symptoms who return home from school pose a risk to everyone they encounter at home and along the way.
If you are thinking about traveling this holiday season, it’s best to get the latest fact-based, expert information, weighing the risks and benefits of celebrating away from home. Visit the CDC website for travel updates: https://www.cdc.gov, and consider the following.
- Get a flu shot if you have not already done so.
- Know your state’s Covid-19 requirements and restrictions, as well as those of the area to which you would like to travel.
- Research the number of cases and hospitalisations in your area and at your intended destination, especially in the two weeks prior to your departure. If the numbers are spiking, you may want to postpone your trip.
- Get tested for Covid-19, and keep a copy of your results. You and everyone traveling with you should be healthy. Should you test positive, delay your trip, and quarantine.
- Know the health status of those you intend to visit. Have they been tested, or have they been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19?
- Can you, anyone in your travel party, or someone whom you will be visiting become extremely ill from Covid-19? Even if you tested negative and display no symptoms, you can have and spread the virus to an elderly person or someone with an underlying medical condition — at your final destination or along the way. Also keep in mind that a second wave of Covid-19 will overwhelm some hospitals and medical personnel, which can adversely impact the health of entire communities.
- Consider your mode of transportation. Using public transportation — trains, buses, planes — along with waiting for long periods in train or bus stations and airports, presents a high risk of Covid-19 transmission. If you are driving to your destination, stopping at gas stations and rest stops are high risk as well. You are better off not stopping along the way, if possible.
- Pack and carry extra masks, extra hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.
- Be aware of the highest risk activities, which include religious observances, holiday parties, concerts, parades and all indoor gatherings exceeding 15 minutes. The larger the gathering and the longer the duration, the higher the risk.
- Always keep an eye out for the following symptoms of Covid-19: a cough, fever or chills, fatigue, shortness of breath, muscular or body aches, a headache, a new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, a runny nose and congestion, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
Always put your health and the health of your family and the community first. Weigh the pros and cons of traveling during the holidays, and keep an open mind about postponing your trip until a Covid-19 vaccine becomes widely available.
Remember that there’s always next year.