By Amy Laukka, UTHealth
Spring break season has begun and many have their hopes set on escaping reality for a few days with their family to enjoy some much-needed fun. However, concerns about the spread of COVID-19 have many second-guessing their vacation plans.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that originated in China in late December, and is making its way across the globe. So, with germs on the mind, is your spring break trip worth the risk?
Susan Wootton, MD, an infectious disease pediatrician at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and affiliated physician with Children’s Memorial Hermann has created a handy checklist to help you make the best choice for you and your family. If your answer matches the response to each question below, move on to the next question. If not, consider carefully whether you should travel.
To travel, or not to travel
1. Are the travelers healthy? Yes
2. Have the travelers received flu shots? Yes
3. Do any of the travelers or anyone the travelers come in contact with have any underlying high-risk conditions (for example: mom, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)? No
4. Any travel restrictions for your destination listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the U.S. Department of State page? No
5. Is the trip a cruise, which Wootton does not recommend? No
6. Are there any major events after the trip that would be problematic if you and your travelers were quarantined for a period of time? No
7. Would anxiety during travel ruin the trip for you? No
8. Are you reasonably able to implement common preventative measures (for example: wash hands, keep hands away from face, etc.) during travel? Yes
9. Would your regret be manageable if you or a family member caught COVID-19? Yes
If you successfully navigated the checklist and decide to embark on your spring break trip, Luis Ostrosky, MD, professor of infectious diseases at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and Medical Director for Epidemiology for Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, shares some quick tips and handy resources:
- Carry hand sanitizer gel with at least 60% alcohol. Experts say washing hands with plain old soap and water is always best (sing the Happy Birthday song to ensure cleanliness), but hand sanitizer is a great choice for on-the-go.
- Wash your hands as often as you can.
- Don’t touch anything you don’t have to. Since the virus is transmitted by droplets, it’s critical to keep your hands off surfaces that could carry the virus.
- Don’t touch your face!
- Only wear a mask if you are sick, or if the person sitting beside you, such as on an airplane, is coughing. Otherwise, masks are largely ineffective, and many people defeat the purpose by improperly taking them off and putting them back on. People also tend to touch their face more to adjust the mask.
- Keep informed by checking the CDC’s travel notices, the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisories, and the World Health Organization’s situation reports, and advice.