If I traveled over the holiday weekend, should I be taking any steps to protect others around me?

Infection and Spread Staying Safe Travel

A: Yes. If you traveled and/or spent time in close contact with others outside your household over the holiday weekend, it is safest to assume you were exposed and minimize contact with others for at least the next 7 days with a negative test and ideally for 2 weeks.

While no specific guidelines for what do to after Thanksgiving travel have been issued by CDC, they do currently recommend that individuals who engaged in “high-risk” travel get tested 3-5 days after returning home AND stay home for 7 days, even if they get a negative test result (See CDC guidelines here). Those who don’t get tested should self-quarantine for the full 14 days. These recommendations were put in place in reference to international travel, but given current levels of COVID-19 circulating it makes sense to consider domestic travel and extended family gatherings over the past weekend as “high-risk” as well and follow these same guidelines, even without a known exposure. Indeed, as Dr. Deborah Birx advises in the NPR article linked below, “Assume you picked up the virus”.

If you can’t quarantine due to work or school, it is all the more important to wear a mask, maintain space from others and avoid indoor, poorly ventilated spaces to the extent possible to help prevent spread to others when you do leave the house, in case you are in fact infected. If you live with individuals that are older or have other conditions that put them at higher risk for complications of COVID-19 who didn’t travel, you should consider wearing a mask inside the house and minimize close contact and sharing of air with them as much as you can for the next two weeks as well. Given individuals are infectious starting ~2 days before they develop symptoms, taking these steps will reduce the chances that you pass SARS-CoV-2 to others before you realize you have COVID-19.

If you do develop symptoms of COVID-19 (list of common COVID-19 symptomsl) which can take 2-14 days, you should begin to isolate from others in your household immediately, contact your doctor, and get tested for COVID-19. See our past post on isolation guidelines.
Bottom line, it is not too late to minimize further spread of COVID-19 if you traveled or gathered with others outside your household over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Taking the precautions outlined above and continuing to practice SMART principles in general (see post on SMART principles here) can still make a difference in how much additional transmission of COVID-19 occurs in the coming weeks!

For more information on what steps to take if you traveled or gathered for the holiday see NPR article here.

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