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Don't travel for Thanksgiving, health experts say. But if you do, follow these tips

By Nicole Villalpando, Austin American-Statesman on

Published in News & Features

Thanksgiving travel week is upon us, but coronavirus cases have surged across the country and sapped much of that annual excitement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued advice last week that couldn't have come at a worse time for those hoping for holiday comfort from loved ones: Postpone travel and stay home to best protect yourself and others from getting or spreading the virus.

While some folks will defy that advice for their own reasons, others are compelled to travel because of colleges closing for winter break or as part of their job as essential workers. So here are a few tips to help you stay safe on that journey this week.

— Travel by car if that's an option. Make as few stops as possible, and when you do, wear your masks and use hand sanitizer. Avoid crowded indoor spaces such as convenience stores and restaurants. Instead, use drive-thrus, pay for your gas outside and use less-crowded rest stops for bathrooms.

— If you are flying, maintain distance as much as possible. Wear your mask at all times on the plane and use hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to clean your area. Dr. Stanley Spinner, vice president and chief medical officer at Texas Children's Pediatrics & Texas Children's Urgent Care, recommends three-layer cloth masks and eye protection as well.

For the family, "getting there and back is the biggest risk area," Spinner said.

 

Once you get to where you are going, rent a car instead of using a ride-hailing app. Wipe the vehicle down with sanitizing wipes before driving it.

If you are visiting family, know what levels of precautions they have taken and how they have interacted with people during the pandemic.

— Staying at a hotel might actually be better. You can minimize the chances of spread and socially distance from other people, unlike staying at a relative's house. Rooms are also cleaned between guests and, because of vacancies, often there is a time lag between booking guests in each room.

"If you stay at a family's house, you're going to have a large group of people congregating for a long time," said Dr. Brian Metzger, medical director of infectious diseases at St. David's Medical Center in Austin, Texas.

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