Holiday travel safety tips amid Omicron concerns

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. — More than 100 million Americans are planning on hitting the road or flying for the holidays, but with the more contagious Omicron variant raging across the U.S., there are some important things you need to know to keep you and your family safe.

Here are some tips from the St. Joseph County Health Department:

If you and your family are traveling by car this holiday season health experts recommend everyone traveling whether you’re vaccinated or not to mask up if you’re stopping at a rest stop, going inside of a gas station, store or restaurant on the way.

If you’re heading out of state experts also advise to check with that specific state’s health guidelines and recommendations to ensure you’re following those.

“Part of it depends on how far you’re traveling. So, an extended trip anyone who’s in the car together is at risk to one another. So, presumably that’s your family members, but if anyone is sick they should be tested or they out to stay home..." said St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer, Dr. Mark Fox.

If you’re staying home to host a holiday celebration with vaccinated or unvaccinated people outside your household experts recommended limiting the gathering size and wearing masks, except when eating and drinking.

Since most gatherings will be happening indoors health experts also suggested keeping good air flow in the house by opening windows or having a fan on during festivities.

“So, if you’re going to spend all day at grandma’s house, then fewer people for a longer period of time is certainly safer. But particularly if anyone in that group is at high risk based on age or medical problems the other piece of advice is there’s benefit to getting a rapid test before you gather with family again to try to reduce the rest anyone who’s especially vulnerable in that gathering,” said Dr. Fox.

If you’re taking to the friendly skies while in flight Dr. Fox recommended keeping air vents open, limiting the amount of time your mask is off, along with hand-washing, sanitizing, and social distancing whenever possible inside of the airport.

“The benefits of air travel is that masks are required, so that’s kind of non-negotiable and the airplanes themselves really are pretty safe because they do frequent air exchanges for the cabin air so the riskiest place in my view is the airport itself,” said Dr. Fox. “I guess the other thing I would say particularly for people who are at higher risk is wearing a higher quality mask an N-95 or KN-95. N-95 is usually in the healthcare setting but the KN-95 there were more widely available now.”

Dr. Fox also recommended getting tested three to five days after you come back from traveling.

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