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I’m thinking of traveling / visiting older relatives: how do  I reduce risk?

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It’s summer and many of us have dear friends and family, parents and grandparents who live in another town. It is tempting to visit, especially after months of isolation. There are several things to consider before you go.

First, assess the risk. We know people over the age 65 are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and if they have an underlying health condition, this increases their risk even more.  It’s important to start here and decide if the risk is worth taking.

Next, if you are going, plan ahead by 2 weeks. Do your best to reduce your personal risk so that the risk of transmission is very low. Try to come close to a complete quarantine as possible, be socially distant, wear your mask and don’t go out unless it is essential. You can also check your local infection rates by going to your county’s health department website. If you live in area with high transmission rates, your risk of infection is going to be higher

Then, if you can make a road trip, do that. Air travel has many more touchpoints within the airport and airplane even with the highest level of caution.  If you take a plane your exposure is much higher and it would be safest to quarantine upon arrival for 14 days before seeing your loved ones. This may not be possible if you do not have long to visit. If you drive, stop only if needed, wash hands often after filling gas and eating snacks. Limit the bathroom breaks and only use very clean rest stops.

Should you onsider getting a nsasal swab / PCR test before you go? If testing is readily available in your community then yes it would be another safeguard. But know that even if you test negative, the tests are not perfect. You could test in a window of time where you have not developed detectable viral particles. That said, testing within 72 hours prior to departure would be ideal.

Lastly, If you do travel, once you arrive do your best to keep your older loved ones safe by keeping your bubble intact. This means only the people in your group who have travelled together should stay together and interact. Plan outdoor activities as much as possible and avoid large gatherings or theme parks and restaurants. This is a  great time for the summer backyard barbeques and water games and music.  (July 1, 2020)