Still debating whether or not to go through with those vacation plans? We asked these local health experts to weigh in on how — or if — they plan to travel this summer.
Dr. Faiqa Cheema
Director of transplant infectious diseases at Hartford HealthCare and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Travel has never been more complicated than right now, but here are some of the places we're most looking forward to visiting, if not this summer, then sometime soon.
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This is a time when we all need to think about how we can re-vision living alongside this virus in a way that is safe and sustainable. Simply staying at home and waiting indefinitely for the pandemic to pass is not realistic. On the other hand, we cannot pretend the virus no longer exists and recklessly return to crowding beaches, bars and pools. I plan to travel with my family this summer, and we will do it in a modified fashion. We won’t be attending block parties and barbecues in large numbers. Instead, our activities will be on a smaller scale, and predominantly outdoors.
The beauty of New England is nature and space. It is easy to find drive-able vacation destinations without being in close proximity to people. We normally spend time in Maine with several houses of extended family, however, this year, we are all taking turns — household by household — to minimize risk.
APRN and director of infection prevention at Hartford HealthCare
At this time I will not be traveling primarily because it is hard to predict the epidemiology of certain areas. It is also very hard for most vacation spots to fully implement infection-prevention programs. The ones that do have the capability, I imagine will be overwhelmed with tourism.
Professor emeritus of epidemiology and microbial diseases at Yale School of Public Health
I plan to travel this summer, and probably for the next year, with a fully equipped camping trailer that will eliminate the need for hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and restrooms.
We plan to visit remote campsites with the fewest people possible. On longer trips, Nova Scotia, possibly Florida, we will overnight at rest stops, Walmart parking lots and wineries until we reach our destination. We are both retired and at a vulnerable age for coronavirus infection. We plan to stay isolated as much as possible and avoid contact with the public.
I will not fly until airlines can convince me that it is completely safe. Trains are worse. I believe that staying at hotels, B&Bs, etc., and eating in restaurants pose an unnecessary risk of infection.
Dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven
I am not planning on traveling outside of Connecticut this summer due to concerns about airplane safety and hotel cleanliness. I have family who will come visit us here from out of state and they will drive.
While I would love a summer vacation right now, travel is a luxury and not worth the risk. From a public health perspective, we still want people to stay home as much as possible to prevent spread of the virus. I am doing my small part to prevent illness by foregoing my travel plans.
If you do decide to venture forth this summer, our experts recommend taking these precautions for traveling in the age of the coronavirus.
Plan, plan, plan: Sure, it can be fun to throw a dart at a map and see where the road takes you, but this is not the time for spontaneity. Plan your stops and meals, minimize use of public restrooms, bring personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and hand sanitizer, and know where to seek treatment if someone gets ill.
Watch where you’re going: If you can avoid it, don’t travel to areas where COVID infection rates are high or trending upward. As for lodging, “In general, smaller hotels and B&Bs might be safer than large hotels and resorts,” McGee says. “Ask questions before making a reservation about cleaning protocols and how guests will be kept safe.”
Maintain good hygiene: Vacation is no excuse to slack off on those new cleanliness habits you’ve developed over the last few months. “Hand sanitizer and hand washing is most important,” Grant says.
Continue social distancing: Safety precautions aren’t just for you — keep those who are at higher risk in mind. “People who are willing to travel as they have done in the past should stay away from vulnerable friends and relatives until they are symptom free for two weeks,” Fish says.
Don’t overlook the usual summer precautions: COVID-19 isn’t the only risk factor out there. In the Northeast, 2020 is also predicted to be a high-risk year for ticks and their associated diseases like Lyme, as well as the deadly mosquito-transmitted Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).“Wear sunscreen and mosquito repellent when outdoors, and remember to check for ticks,” Dr. Cheema urges.