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Thanksgiving Travel – Know the Risks

Tuesday November 3, 2020

Though the major holidays are coming up, the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency wants to remind residents of the risks that travel imposes, and how to keep your family safe if you do travel.

Are you already making plans for Thanksgiving? Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Some travel activities, like the transportation you choose and where you stay, can increase your risk of getting COVID-19. Your chances of exposure are higher if you come into close contact with others, especially people you don’t know, or use shared public facilities (like restrooms). “COVID-19 is still very much spreading in the United States,” says Kali Nichols, Director of Personal Health and Disease Prevention. “Before you travel, read the following to learn which travel activities are lower risk to protect yourself and others. Remember that getting from one place to another is just one piece of the puzzle.Your activities and who you interact with before, during, and after travel may increase your risk.”

Your chances of getting COVID-19 while traveling depends not only on the length of the trip and the number of stops, but also on whether you and those around you take precautions, such as wearing masks and staying at least 6 feet away from other people. Airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus through respiratory droplets or on surfaces. These are also places where it can be hard to keep your distance. In general, the longer you are around a person with COVID-19 (even if they do not have symptoms), the more likely you are to get infected.

During car travel, making stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. If traveling in a RV, you may have to stop less often for food or bathroom breaks, but you could still be in close contact with others while staying at RV parks overnight and while getting gas and supplies at public places.

Traveling on buses and trains for any length of time can involve sitting or standing within 6 feet of others, which may increase your risk of getting COVID-19. If you choose to travel by bus or train, learn what you can do to protect yourself on public transportation.

Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, keeping your distance is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.

Lowest Risk

More Risk

Even More Risk

Highest Risk

If you travel, be sure to take steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19: