With the international crisis regarding COVID-19, also referred to as Coronavirus, you may be cancelling or rescheduling your upcoming travel plans. But if you absolutely must travel during this time, we want to help you stay healthy and safe. Here are a few tips for safeguarding yourself against COVID-19 while you travel, as well as answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the virus.
1. Increase Frequency & Duration of Handwashing
Wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds frequently, not just after using the restroom, but after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or touching things in a public space. If you aren’t able to wash your hands as frequently as you would like, carry hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol to use in between washing.
2. Avoid Crowds & Limit Close Contact in Public Spaces
While you may want to venture out of your home to stave off the boredom, try to limit your exposure to large crowds and close contact in public spaces (the CDC recommends at least six feet apart when possible, and not to gather in groups of 50 people or more until further notice). For instance, consider taking a scenic drive through Virginia instead of going to a crowded attraction. And while it may seem rude, it’s best to opt for a friendly (albeit awkward) elbow bump or verbal greeting rather than a handshake for the time being.
3. Skip Nonessential Travel
Cruises and airlines have been hit particularly hard with COVID-19, and many of the cases contracted were brought via cruise or airplane. During this time, opt for driving to your travel destinations rather than risking high exposure and larger crowds that come with airports and cruise lines. If your travel plans have options to postpone to a later date, consider staying at home during this crucial time and saving your vacation for later in the year.
4. Avoid Touching Your Face
We know it’s nearly impossible to stop touching your face entirely, as it is often an unconscious gesture, but start making an effort to notice when you are touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and limit those motions unless you’ve thoroughly washed your hands beforehand.
5. Evaluate Your Health Continuously & Stay Home If You’re Sick
Another thing that is easier said than done with many employer’s sick leave policies, but staying home when you’re sick will help COVID-19 from spreading. While test kits are still not easy to come by, be on the lookout for common COVID-19 symptoms; fever, coughing, and shortness of breath are among the first symptoms of COVID-19, but these can also be signs of the flu, so upon noticing these symptoms and if you think you may have been exposed to the virus, talk to your healthcare provider on how to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.
6. Disinfect Surfaces
Clean and disinfect the frequently-touched surfaces in your house on a regular basis (daily is good, but the more often you can at least wipe things down, the better!), including doorknobs, light switches, countertops, phones, bathroom surfaces like toilets, faucets, and sinks, drawer handles, and tables. Clean with soap and water, then disinfect following CDC recommendations.
7. Only Wear a Face Mask If You Are Ill
Wearing a face mask when you’re sick will aid in preventing the spread of your illness, so when going out in public spaces or to your healthcare provider’s office, be sure to purchase face masks and wear them at all times while out and about. If you aren’t able to wear a face mask for any medical reasons, do your best to avoid going out in public and cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent spreading germs. If you are NOT sick, do not wear a face mask unless you’re caring for someone who is sick. Face masks are currently in short supply and as most are not airtight, they have not been proven to effectively stop the spread of COVID-19.
Frequently-Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a form of coronavirus and is a viral respiratory illness that spreads by person-to-person contact through respiratory droplets transferred in close range of an infected person, typically within six feet.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The initial symptoms include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. More extreme symptoms include difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish tint to the lips or face, and if you experience any of these symptoms, get medical attention immediately.
Who are the most vulnerable when it comes to contracting the virus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the health risk to the average American is thought to be low at this time. Older people and people with chronic diseases such as heart and lung diseases or diabetes are at higher risk when it comes to COVID-19. These people should avoid travel whenever possible and follow all precautionary measures to prevent contracting the virus.
What should I do if I do need to travel abroad?
Travel abroad for Americans is not currently banned, but international travel is not recommended, especially for those at high risk from COVID-19 or those traveling to and from high-risk countries. Additionally, if you do decide to keep existing travel plans, you should take every precaution to prevent exposure to the virus. Air travel and cruise travel are not suggested at this time.
How will COVID-19 affect my existing travel plans to Virginia?
The response to COVID-19 varies widely for businesses, attractions, restaurants, hotels, and events throughout the Commonwealth, so you should check individual social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages, as well as websites, to get the latest news on closures, postponements, or changes in regular business hours.
For more FAQs and information, visit the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 informational webpage.