SAN ANTONIO — Tens of millions of Americans travel for the holidays. This year that number is expected to be substantially lower due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Whether you choose to travel by car or air there are many risks you need weigh in either circumstance. First, the dangers of the road.
"You need to look at where are you are going to go look at how many stops you may have along the way," said Dr. Jason Bowling, the staff epidemiologist at University Health.
He says stopping offers the most risks.
"The more you can minimize stops the more you can have less interaction with other people, crowded spaces, the better off you are going to be as far as reducing your risks," he said.
Do that by mapping the route you'll be taking, packing food as well as water, hand sanitizer and sanitary wipes for when you stop to get gas, and avoiding restaurants. If you have to stay in a hotel wear a mask in the room and wash your hands frequently.
"One thing good would probably be a good idea to take some sanitizing wipes, disinfectant wipes, so you can wipe down high touch surfaces," Dr. Bowling added.
Traveling by plane is risky in its own way.
"The airport in general is a higher risk area because the number of people are higher, you are more likely to be in closer settings with larger groups of people in an airport just because of the nature of having to wait in lines to get on a plane, and the other areas where you might actually be in close proximity," Bowling said.
You also need to wear that PPE.
"The facemask is still the most protective piece of equipment you can wear. And you should really have it on as long as you can for as much time as you can so only take that off if you absolutely have to, if you're going to take a sip of water but put the mask right back on," Dr. Bowling advised.
Consider a face shield too to protect your eyes. And make sure the area around your seat is as virus free as possible.
"I would take disinfectant wipes and I would wipe down the armrests and the tree in front of me just to have an additional layer of protection," he said.
If you haven't decided if you are going to travel or not, Dr. Bowling says to look at the CDC website for the number of cases and the positivity rate to get an idea of the virus spread in that area. You can find that and all COVID-related travel information here.
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