By now, I’m sure you’ve seen yesterday’s headlines: The CDC announced their recommendation that Americans refrain from gathering for Thanksgiving to curb the spread of COVID-19. We canceled our plans and will just have a quiet T-day at home, most likely chasing the kids around the house, watching football and Face Timing or Zooming with friends and family members both near and far.
If you’re not going to take the CDC’s advice for whatever reason (and I’m not here to judge or to tell you what to do, rather to help you make informed decisions), then these new tips from the CDC and US Travel may come in handy, regardless of whether you’re traveling halfway around the globe or around the corner to see friends and family.
The CDC’s Advice on Traveling
The CDC warns that “travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.” But It doesn’t look like people are listening to this advice. The TSA Public Affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein just tweeted this: “JUST IN: @TSA officers from around the country screened 907,332 people at airport checkpoints nationwide yesterday, Thursday, Nov. 19. One week earlier, on Thursday, Nov. 12, TSA screened 866,679 individuals nationwide. That’s an increase of nearly 41,000 people. Mask up folks.”
And that’s on a Thursday! Numbers will probably break a million for today (Friday) and next Sunday.
The CDC offers up a lot of information to help people keep safe so check out their website but here are some highlights for those who are traveling:
- Check travel restrictions before you go.
- Get your flu shot before you travel. (Johnny’s two cents: It’s pretty much too late now as it take two weeks for the vaccine to kick in)
- Always wear a mask in public settings, when using public transportation, and when around people who you don’t live with.
- Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who does not live with you.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
- Know when to delay your travel.
GOOD TO KNOW: According to CBS Evening News, “The CDC is urging anybody who hasn’t been home for 14 days not to participate in holiday plans unless they’ve quarantined.”
The CDC’s Advice For Attending a Gathering
“Celebrating virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice this Thanksgiving. If you choose to attend a gathering, make your celebration safer.. In addition to following the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer, take these additional steps if attending a Thanksgiving gathering:
- Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
- Wear a mask and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
- Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
- Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
U.S. Travel: Do Your Part for Public Health If You Choose to Travel for the Holidays
Here’s more advice, this time from the U.S. Travel Association (a national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry). They state: “Beyond the strong emphasis on mask-wearing, other practical advice for travelers in the updated guidance includes:
- Decide if you can travel safely. Do not travel if you are sick or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
- Get an annual flu vaccine.
- Before travel, check information about your destination. Check health departments for local requirements and up-to-date travel information about your destination.
- Practice physical distancing. Stay six feet from those who do not live with you, both indoors and outdoors.
- Wash your hands frequently. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Click here to read the full updated travel health and safety guidance.
If you aren’t feeling well or decide to change your plans in light of all the safety recommendations, know that almost every airline will let you cancel or change your flights for no charge at all.
I know for some, the restrictions are just too much and it feels like they just keep on coming. Like in my city of Los Angeles. Yesterday, L.A. announced a new curfew starting on Saturday and last week, the state of California (as well as Oregon and Washington) announced that all travelers to those states (including returning residents), will need to quarantine for 14 days.
On top of that, my home airport, LAX, tweeted yesterday, “If you do not have to travel for the holidays, don’t. For those with a need to travel, LAX looks a little different now. Here’s a look at what passengers should expect, and tips to ensure a successful airport journey this holiday season and beyond.”
When was the last time you saw an airport tell people not to travel? Pretty remarkable, eh? But good for them for prioritizing safety over profits.
Believe me, there’s nothing I would rather do more than hop on an airplane with my family and go spend Thanksgiving with my loved ones (especially my dad) but as New York Governor Cuomo tweeted yesterday, “Love is sometimes doing what’s hard. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is with your immediate household only.”
I don’t normally listen to politicians but that really resonated with me, because as much as I miss my dad, the last thing I want to do is put him at risk. I do take advice from doctors I respect like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said he’s having his Thanksgiving dinner with just his wife and his three kids will Zoom in for their 90-minute meal.
No doubt, times are difficult and surreal but we will get through this and when we do, it will make our next travels and get-togethers that much more special.