Travel Advice in the age of Covid-Oct 9, 2020

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Dear Valued Patient,

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, many people are wondering if it is safe to travel, or vice versa have family visit for the holidays. While no one knows for certain, there is concern that travel can be risky. However, as I mentioned in my last message there may be ways to reduce that risk, and I wish to share with you what one Pulmonary Critical Care physician, Dr. Vin Gupta, recommends.

First off, make sure you or your visitors have no COVID like symptoms for at least 2 weeks prior to travel. Right before traveling, you should get tested, and if it is negative you could then travel. Ideally, when you or your visitors arrive you should quarantine at a hotel for at least 48 hours before seeing anyone. I have been recommending 5 days since many times symptoms become visible 5 days after infection, yet I realize that is not always practical.

Driving will be safer then flying, yet if you plan to stay in a hotel you should check with each one how they are trying to reduce the risk of the virus. Many properties are not placing people in rooms next to each other and are also letting rooms sit empty for at least 24 hours before putting someone else in the room.

If you fly, try to fly at less popular times so the airport and plane may be less crowded. Wearing a well-fitting mask is important, and if you can get one, an N95 mask is recommended. (Be aware that N95 masks are more uncomfortable especially when worn for an extended period). Make sure the airline is keeping the middle seat open and take wet wipes to wipe down the back of your seat and tray table. Also, make sure to have hand sanitizer.

When you are gathered with family, try to avoid close contact and talking without a mask, especially if you are around older family members and/or ones with underlying medical conditions.

Dr. Fauci’s own daughters have decided not to visit him and his wife this year for Thanksgiving so as not to put their parents at increased risk, yet Dr. Fauci has advised each family to make its own decision by “look(ing) at the individual situation in your own family and mak(ing) a decision that way.”

I realize COVID-19 has negatively impacted family life. Hopefully, by applying some of this advice some of you may be able to enjoy the upcoming holiday season. I will be back next week with another update.

Take care and have a good week.
Jeffrey Mayer, MD