June 17, 2020
If you've watched any of the health system's daily Facebook Lives about COVID-19, you know one of the most frequently asked questions posed to Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer, and Dana Hawkinson, MD, director of infection prevention and control, is about the safety of traveling during the pandemic. Dr. Hawkinson, or Doc Hawk as he's come to be known, recently traveled to Florida and Colorado for some well-earned time off. During his trip, he took the time to share with our audience the best ways to travel safely across the country and enjoy your vacation while maintaining proper hygiene.
Dr. Hawkinson's top travel safety tips
- Proper hand hygiene.
Throughout his entire trip, Dr. Hawkinson reminded us of the importance of maintaining good hand hygiene whether at the airport, dining out at a restaurant, filling up at the gas station or returning a rental car. When you're flying, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can go in your carry-on if it's 3.4 ounces in size or less. For anything larger, you'll need to include it in your checked luggage. While driving, you will want to use sanitizer before leaving and after returning to your car. In both instances, you should avoid touching surfaces and your face when possible.
- Use the right personal protective equipment (PPE).
Most airlines are currently requesting that their passengers use masks or other face coverings when flying. Since it's not guaranteed that your fellow passengers will follow these guidelines, Dr. Hawkinson encourages you to take the extra step and use goggles with top and side protection when possible. These can be found at your local hardware store or through online vendors. If you can't find goggles, he says that glasses or sunglasses will still provide some protection against droplets.
- Maintain physical distancing when you can.
This can be difficult to do while waiting to get through security or board an airplane, but it's still important to try. On your road trip, follow any posted signs for limited numbers of people in areas like restrooms. When eating out at a restaurant, like Dr. Hawkinson showed us, sitting outside is the best option. And still use your hand sanitizer frequently – after touching a menu, before digging into your food and after signing the check are a few good examples.
- Enjoy yourself.
These are stressful times, so taking a break is good for your mental health. As long as you maintain the proper precautions, you should be able to enjoy your trip with few complications.