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On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness news for all Oklahomans.

Spring Break in the COVID-19 Age

This time of year, many of us are daydreaming about one thing: spring break. In years past, we worried about aligning multiple children's spring break schedules, what kind of trip our budgets would allow, where to go and how to get there. This year, there's a much bigger question looming, one that's on many parents' and students' minds. How do we enjoy spring break in a COVID-19 safe way? More importantly, can we enjoy spring break and still be safe? Or at least safer? 

The answer is yes, but with some caveats. First, although there are safer ways to enjoy spring break, until the COVID-19 virus is gone, or we've reached herd immunity, there is almost always some level of risk. Many colleges and universities are canceling spring break entirely, in hopes of lessening outbreaks.  

About the risk of transmission, from the CDC: 

  • People who are physically near (within 6 feet) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person are at greatest risk of infection.
  • When people with COVID-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe they produce respiratory droplets. These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets. Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.
  • Infections occur mainly through exposure to respiratory droplets when a person is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Respiratory droplets cause infection when inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, like those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
  • As the respiratory droplets travel further from the person with COVID-19, the concentration of these droplets decreases. Larger droplets fall out of the air due to gravity. Smaller droplets and particles spread apart in the air.
  • With passing time, the amount of infectious virus in respiratory droplets also decreases.

More travel guidance from the CDC is available here.

 

Safest

Staycation. We know. We are all tired of being at home. Many had to cancel spring break plans last year, and summer plans, and holiday plans. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccinations are being deployed and infection numbers are decreasing. So if you can, stay home for one more season. 

Some Staycation ideas:

Camp at home. Got little ones? Set up a tent and camp in your backyard. Toast marshmallows and roast hotdogs over the fire pit. Tell scary stories. 

Visit parks, trails or open spaces nearby. Bring hand sanitizer and use it often. Wear masks in parking lots, or when others are present. Stay at least six feet from people you don't live with at all times. This might make some open areas, trails, and paths better to use than others. Do not go into a crowded area. If a trail you must use becomes crowded, mask up and stand to the side, facing away from the trail, until the crowd passes by.

Stream movies. Make every night a movie night. Many services now offer first-run movies released the same day they're released to theaters (we don't recommend going to a theater). Download away, make a few big bowls of popcorn and maybe a pillow fort and settle in. 

 

Somewhat Safe

Non-party beach destination. Pack up the gang and head to a rental house or condo that only the people in your family will use. Bring your own groceries and do your own cooking or order takeout. Send one person to pick up any takeout or supplies once you've reached your destination. At the beach, stay at least six feet away from others, in and out of the water. Wear a mask if you can't avoid closer proximity. And don't forget your sunscreen.  

Skiing or snowboarding trip. Lodging should, again, if possible be limited to a cabin, condo or house used only by your group. Avoid hotels if possible, but if you must stay in a hotel, look for one with amplified safety protocols like contactless check-in and stringent, near-constant cleaning procedures. Avoid common areas and sanitize or wash hands often. Wear a mask when not in your room.

Aside from lodging, other spots where the possibility of virus transmission are common areas on the slopes – equipment rental areas, snack bars. If you're renting, or picking up hot cocoa for the group, mask up when indoors. Avoid riding a lift with anyone outside your household.

 

Not Very Safe

Party beach destinations. A crowded beach filled with merry-makers is a horrible idea right now. Even if you've already been infected, even if you've been vaccinated, there are simply too many risks. Not to mention, hospitals in high-party areas may already be at max capacity, so if you become infected and ill, there may be no nearby hospital beds available.

Flying. Airlines are taking measures in varying degrees and are doing the best they can. Wearing a mask (or a double mask) and goggles while on the plane will lend you extra protection. Masks are now mandatory on flights and in airports. But air travel is risky business. Crowded airports are filled with people who must exhale after every inhale. Surfaces are touched countless times a day. People are coming and going from around the world. 

Cruise Ships. Really, just don't. The CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. That's because the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high, since the virus appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.

Crowded spaces, indoors or out. Crowded spaces are what the novel coronavirus loves most. It can spread with ease from person to person. It can also sometimes spread via airborne transmission, which means those tiny virus-containing droplets being exhaled by infected people can fly through the air, possibly through vents and much farther than six feet.

 

When You Return Home 

If you've decided to travel, you'll want to take steps upon returning home so as not to spread COVID-19 to members of your community if you've been infected. 

The CDC recommends that you stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days when you get home. This goes for everyone in your household. It further recommends getting tested with a viral test 3-5 days after returning home. Quarantine the full seven days even if your test is negative. 

 

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