Omicron and Holiday Travel: How to Strategize

Omicron and Holiday Travel: How to Strategize

Taylor Allen wanted to be a responsible traveller, but she was finding it difficult.

Last weekend at least seven people Ms Allen was aware of posted on Instagram in Brooklyn that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. He had not seen any of them in person. But after a severe headache and runny nose on Friday, she canceled her Saturday morning flight to Jacksonville, Fla., where she was planning to visit her parents and grandparents.

Two tests at home – one Friday and one Saturday – came back negative. But Ms Allen, 22, who has been fully vaccinated but has not grown yet, wanted more official reassurance before re-booking her trip. On Sunday evening, not long after her scheduled appointment at an urgent care clinic in Crown Heights, an employee told her and the 30 or so others awaiting tests in the freezing cold to come back at 8 a.m. Will happen.

“I really don’t want to put anyone in danger,” said Ms Allen, who left the clinic with plans to return the next day.

Even as the number of coronavirus cases continues to skyrocket in parts of the country, largely driven by the Omicron version, the holiday travel rush appears to be unstoppable. On Friday, Los Angeles International Airport Reported It has its busiest day since the start of 2020, and on Sunday, 2.1 million people passed through airports in the United States, nearly twice as many as last year.

For those determined to stick to their travel plans, figuring out how to do so responsibly has never been more confusing. Part of the problem is that testing has become harder to get on time, especially in hard-hit cities like New York. Another significant challenge is that many people plan to live in a home with fully vaccinated friends and family. Now, they are learning that vaccination is far from a guarantee that they will not infect each other. So what can travelers do?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one in six Americans has received a booster. Fully vaccinated individuals without a booster are at least twice as likely to test positive than those who receive a booster.

If you plan to travel in the coming weeks and months, and you’re already fully vaccinated, the best ways to be a responsible traveler are: One of them is to get boosters. ,

In terms of timing, the data show that the optimal immune response comes about two weeks after a booster, said Dr., a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City. According to Wafa al-Sadr. But many people will see some protection within a few days, other experts noted, so getting a third shot today could benefit vacationers.

When deciding what to account for in terms of holiday travel, Kelly Hills, co-founder of Rogue Bioethics, a consulting firm in Boston, recommends thinking about “moral injury” and asking if you’re a vulnerable person. If you infect the person then you are mentally prepared for the consequences or not. ,

This doesn’t need to translate into a cancellation plan, but it could encourage you to wear an N95 instead of a homemade mask on the plane or get tested even if it’s a hassle. If you’re indoors, masked around multiple people during travel days, you may want to pay extra to book a separate home or motel room instead of staying with family or friends.

Leonard J., co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard University and director of an initiative focused on public health. Marcus said, “‘I don’t want to be a spreader’—that should be the motto today.” on flights.

Dr Marcus said that although he is not aware of any data that children are likely to be infected on planes, he advises parents not to fly with unvaccinated children – if possible. So – until more is known about Omicron.

“If it were my grandson, I would have postponed,” he said. In general, if someone is wearing a proper mask on an airplane, the risk of getting infected should be low because the ventilation system is so good, he said.

The nation’s top infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNBC he feels safe flying his adult children to see him over the holidays. He also said that he has been vaccinated.

Testing in many parts of the country is challenging at this time.

“On a scale of one to 10, it’s 10,” said Mary Mathurin, 51, outside a testing site in Brooklyn on Sunday evening. As she waited for her name to be called, her cellphone paused the music from a call with another facility that had not yet sent her PCR results several days earlier. After about 70 minutes the phone got disconnected. A few minutes later, a patient care assistant at the Brooklyn site told her the site couldn’t accommodate her. She was about to fly to St. Lucia the next morning and was unsure what she was going to do.

Many pharmacies and online retailers have made out of home tests. The White House is planning to make 500 million free at-home tests available, but that won’t happen until January. Several experts said that for those who manage to get the kit, use it as close to its departure date as possible.

“The closer you are to the event, the better and more accurate you are,” said Dr. Lin H. Chen, professor and director of Harvard Medical School. Mount Auburn Hospital Travel Medicine Center in Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. Chen suggested doing an at-home antigen test on the day of the meeting. (If a person tests positive at any point of time, it is advised not to attend the program and get a PCR test done for confirmation.) If people are living together in a house for an extended period, their stay Periodic testing is advised during, Dr. Chen said. This is especially important if someone has not been vaccinated or outcrossed, or has come into contact with someone who has tested positive, other experts noted.

Ms Hills, bioethicist, said it is understandable that many people are confused about making public health decisions.

“We should get more guidance,” she said, noting that many state and federal agencies offer different advice.

At the testing site in Brooklyn, many travelers echoed this point and lamented that public health officials were not making what they believed responsible travel – testing before family – easy.

Adding to these frustrations, some travelers said, there is an understanding that the burden is on them to figure out what is socially responsible and epidemiologically safe and then explain those policies to their family and friends. For what they have created. One woman, who declined to use her name because she didn’t want her family to recognize her, said she now felt comfortable flying with her 2- and 3-year-olds after learning about Thanksgiving. does not guarantee that her own family members will fly even if they have tested positive.

Rather than fighting with them about what’s appropriate or worrying that those sitting next to her share her family’s point of view – and may infect her or her children, infecting their fathers – She’s going to stay home this Christmas.