TRAVEL AND COVID-19
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
In the past several weeks it has been hard to escape the news of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). I have been tracking this virus since I was in Australia and saw it hit right after the Lunar New Year. Since then, it has been rampant, making its way throughout the globe.
WHAT IS COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines the coronavirus as a novel coronavirus "that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold."
HOW DOES IT SPREAD?
According to the CDC, the virus is spread person to person and through "community spread," meaning that some people may have gotten it in the community and are not sure how or when they became infected.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The main symptoms identified are: fevers, cough, and shortness of breath.
HOW CAN WE PROTECT OURSELVES AND OUR COMMUNITIES?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following steps:
Wash your hands often, and when not available use hand sanitizer.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Cover coughs or sneezes, and wash your hands immediately after.
If you are sick, wear a facemask to protect others. If you are not sick, the CDC suggests you do not need a facemask as they are in short supply and should be used by caregivers.
Clean and disinfect surfaces often. These include doorknobs, keyboards, keys, phones, toilets, sinks, etc.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF THE VIRUS?
The CDC has been tracking the status of the virus in each country, and within the United States it has been collecting data of each state. You can find the amount of cases in the US, testing done in the US and a global map with updated data clicking here for the direct CDC site.
STILL THINKING OF TRAVELING?
COVID-19 is spreading throughout communities, and traveling may put you and loves ones at higher risk of infection. Before going somewhere, consider the following:
Is Coronavirus spreading in the location you are headed?
Are you or someone close to you at high risk if you are infected?
Upon your return are you prepared to self-quarantine for 14 if needed?
It is hard to gage where and how quickly this disease will continue to spread, so if you are planning a trip check the news for updates.
The CDC has been ranking the spread of Coronavirus throughout the world and created alert levels based on the risk of catching the disease.
Level 3: higher risk of getting COVID-19. Countries include: China, Iran, South Korea, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, Marino, Vatican City.
Level 2: older adults and those with chronic health conditions need to consult their providers.
Level 1: there is no need to cancel or modify travel plans. The request is that you wash your hands often, avoid contact with sick people, and avoid touching your face.
If based on this information, you are not sure whether you still want to take your trip or not, many airlines have temporarily changed their policies to allow either no change fees, or refunds on flights purchased between a certain amount of time.
Alaska: if you purchase a new ticket now through March 30, they will waive the change/ cancellation fee.
Delta: you have the option to change the dates one time, without a change fee for flights in March or April. If there is a price difference you are expected to pay the change in fare.
American: change fees are waved through April 30, and extra cleaning has been enforced in airplanes and airport kiosks.
United: there is no change fee for trips planned through April 30, and you are able to make changes online rather than via phone calls.
Many countries have shut down their borders, and traveling has become more complicated. Before booking a trip, consider the effects that going somewhere may have on you and your community.