The Dangers of Traveling During The Holidays

Seri Welsh, Co-Photo Editor

December 18th, 2020

With winter break rapidly approaching, wearing a mask and staying home is more important than ever.
(Photo Credit: Seri Welsh)

Winter break is around the corner, but with the United States in the midst of a surge of COVID-19 outbreaks, families are struggling to decide whether travelling is worth the risk. With the break quickly approaching, many people are missing their extended family and friends more than ever. When we remember how long this has all been going on, with Humboldt County schools having been shut down since mid-March and many people now working from home, it’s no wonder that people are struggling not to travel to see their families. 

Arcata High School’s Nurse Kell states  “as we see the vaccine roll out, many of us are feeling hope for the first time in a long while, but unfortunately the vaccine won’t change safety related to travel this winter.”

On November 13th, the California Department of Public Health issued a statement advising self-quarantine for any travel out of the state. Self-quarantining is a method to slow the spread from the safety of your home. 

According to Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich, “Self-quarantining is an important way to keep infections from spreading, but the safest thing to do for our community’s long-term health is to cancel or postpone travel that’s not essential.” A local travel advisory made a similar statement on Nov. 17, strongly discouraging all non-essential travel. It also recommends self-quarantining after returning from any high-risk travel out of the county.

COVID-19 transmission is increasing across the county, state, and country, and travel increases a person’s risk of not only contracting the virus, but more importantly spreading it to others. 

Dr. Frankovich stated in reference to the advisory, “All travel is risky. That’s been the case for quite some time, but especially now as case rates climb all over the state and country.”

Although avoiding travel is the safest option for families and the county as a whole, travel is essential for some families. With this comes the responsibility of a fourteen day complete self-quarantine when returning home. Additionally, wearing a face mask and staying six feet away from people you don’t live with drastically decreases chances of contracting the virus. In addition, if at all possible avoid spending time indoors, as the risk of spreading COVID is much higher inside due to the lack of ventilation. 

Getting infected while traveling not only increases your chances of getting sick, but also greatly increases the chances that you will spread the virus to loved ones and strangers when you return, even if you don’t have symptoms.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the United States are rising and as cold weather conditions approach, people tend to spend more time indoors. As the holidays approach it is vital to take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Nurse Kell talks about options other than travelling. 

“Setting up virtual hangouts can allow extended family to connect across the distances that many of us will choose to avoid traveling this year.” Wear a mask, always stay at least 6 feet apart, avoid any crowds, and wash hands often. The more steps we take as a community, the less COVID-19 cases we’ll have in our county and the quicker we can return to life similar to life before quarantine. Kell states “there is light at the end of the tunnel but we are months, not weeks away, from feeling that relief. Please do every healthcare worker and essential employee a favor this winter break and start the difficult conversation of modifying your travel plans.”