space traveling warriors tier list : Covid cases are on the rise. Should you change summer travel plans?

(CNN) — Americans entered Memorial Day weekend with the United States with five times the level of Covid-19 infection compared to the same period last year. Cases continue to increase in most parts of the country, driven by the highly contagious subvariant BA.2.12.1. At the same time, many more people are returning to pre-pandemic activities.

Should people re-evaluate their summer travel plans, given the rise in coronavirus cases? What precautions should you take? What about those with underlying medical conditions – and what advice is there for families with children under age 5, who are not yet eligible for vaccination?

To answer these questions, I spoke with CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. She is also the author of “Lifelines: a doctor’s journey in the fight for public health” and mother of two young children.

CNN: Covid cases are on the rise again. Does this mean people should cancel their summer travel plans?

Dr. Leana Wen: Not necessarily. There may be some people who want to re-evaluate their travel plans, and everyone should think about contingencies – but I don’t think most people should cancel their summer trips.

Throughout the pandemic, I’ve given advice based on people’s risk factors for serious illness as well as risk tolerance. Those who are generally healthy, vaccinated and fortified, have a low risk of serious illness due to Covid-19. It is reasonable for many people to say that, given their low risk, they are fine resuming pre-pandemic activities and will not restrict their travel or other activities. Yes, there is still a small chance that they will get very sick, and long-term symptoms of coronavirus infection remain possible, but many people are concluding that they will take that risk because the value of travel and all other pre-pandemic activities is so great. high for them.

On the other hand, there will be many people who are still choosing to be cautious. The good news is that there are also many more tools available to them that weren’t before in the early stages of the pandemic. There are antiviral pills, for example, that further reduce the chance of serious illness. And, of course, ensuring they are vaccinated and up to date with boosters also reduces their risk of serious illness and symptomatic infections.

CNN: What are some factors people should consider when deciding to delay travel?

Wen: Most important is your own medical risk of serious illness due to Covid-19. I advise speaking with your doctor to better assess your individual circumstance. This is not to say that people with underlying medical conditions should not travel, but rather that they should know what their risk is and then weigh that risk against the value they would derive from the trip.

Another factor is whether you have recently had Covid-19. Chances of reinfection are low if you were infected within the last three months. On the other hand, if you were infected in 2020 and have never been vaccinated, you really should get the vaccine for optimal protection. And those who are not boosted but eligible for boosters should also get the boost now.

Also consider what your plan would be if you contracted Covid-19 while traveling. Are you going to a country that has good health care? Can you access needed treatments there, including antiviral pills, monoclonal antibodies and remdesivir? I also recommend talking to your doctor in advance to find out which treatments you are eligible for if you are in your home country. Will you be able to access the same treatments readily at your destination? Will your health insurance cover the cost of treatment?

The level of Covid-19 infection can also be a guide. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a list of countries by risk level. I think you can refer to this guide when planning your trip, but remember that circumstances are fluid, and a country that was low risk a month ago may be higher risk now and vice versa.

Travelers pass a security checkpoint at Denver International Airport on May 26. Covid cases are on the rise in the US, so take precautions in high-risk areas during summer travel.

David Zalubowski/AP

Finally, think about the downside of what happens if you end up testing positive while traveling. If the level of Covid-19 in the country you are going to is high and you engage in higher risk activities, such as dining indoors and going to crowded bars, there is a chance you could catch the coronavirus. The United States still requires pre-departure testing before international travel. If you test positive, do you have the resources to isolate for the required number of days? This will be a big inconvenience – do you need to get back to work or family responsibilities? If so, this may weigh in favor of postponing your trip. Which reminds me – travel insurance is a very good idea given the many uncertainties travelers face. Be sure to carefully check the insurance policy as not all insurance plans cover Covid-19 related outages.

CNN: What precautions can people take while traveling?

Wen: Making sure you’re vaccinated and up to date with boosters is a big issue. If you are immunocompromised, ask your doctor if you are eligible to take Evusheld, the preventive antibody that gives you an additional level of protection.

Another important protection measure is the use of a mask. Most airlines and airports no longer require masks, but remember that it is always an option available to you. One-way masking with a well-fitting, high-quality mask – such as N95, KN95 or KF94 – is very effective in protecting the mask wearer.

I recommend continuing to mask in crowded indoor environments, especially if the area you are in has high levels of Covid-19 and/or you are around people who come from elsewhere with high levels. This includes during the flight. If you don’t want to wear a mask for the entire flight, wear a mask during higher risk settings – for example, you can take off your mask to eat, but mask while in the security line and during boarding and disembarking. (The air on board is circulated and filtered during flight, but generally not during boarding or disembarking or when the plane is stopped on the runway.)

Also keep an eye out for agglomerations. Events that have some distance, good ventilation, and requirements for same-day vaccination and testing will be safer than those that don’t. Again, this is not to say that you need to avoid all internal events, but rather to be aware of the risk. If you participate in a high-risk event, take a quick test the same day before visiting vulnerable loved ones.

CNN: Will parents and caregivers of children under 5 get any relief soon? Will your kids be vaccinated in time for their summer trips?

Wen: Hope so! I am very much looking forward to vaccinating my two young children when the vaccine is authorized for them. The US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC are expected to discuss the vaccine for young children this month. Until the end of June, families with young children can receive their first doses.

Families must decide for themselves whether they want to wait for the trip until these children are vaccinated. This decision, again, depends on the risk tolerance and value of the activity.

Overall, we are at a very different point in the pandemic than we were last year. We have many more tools at our disposal to help protect us from the worst effects of Covid-19. Particularly as this virus appears to be with us for the foreseeable future, we need to be mindful of the risks while also reclaiming parts of our lives that are important to our health and overall emotional well-being.

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