Safe Summer Travels During COVID-19
Learn tips for staying safe during vacations and summertime travels from Jeffrey Hatcher, MD, chief medical officer of Wesley Long Hospital in this week's 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2.
Are masks and social distancing recommended while we're vacationing, even when we're on the beach?
“Masks and social distancing are still recommended. I think that if you're in areas where you will be in close contact with other people, I would absolutely recommend them. If you're on the beach, it would depend on how close you're going to be to other people. So if you are with your family unit on the beach – and that is people you live with and you're usually around – then you might forgo wearing a mask when you're going to be close to those people. But once you're away from those people, I would suggest keeping your distance and wearing a mask.”
How do you keep yourself safe when family members gather from different locations to vacation together?
“Yep, that is tricky. I think one of the recommendations around that would be that - let's say that my family is going to meet my in-laws' family at the beach - before we both go to the beach, [make sure] that we are both sort of staying at home as much as we can for those two weeks before the beach and quarantining ourselves as best we can. Then when we're together, again, keeping our distance as much as we can and hand washing as much as we can. And then just trying to make good choices while we're there together, which would be wearing masks out of the house and staying away from people who we are not sharing space with.”
When vacationing with people you don’t live with, do you recommend wearing a mask inside the house?
“I would only wear a mask in the house if somebody was in the house who really wasn't in my social circle. So, if it wasn't somebody who I was around or who I could sort of account for in terms of where they have been or who they had been around, then I would probably be a little more cautious. But if it's going to be the family members that you know, everybody's been staying home and not being with other people - then this is probably an okay thing without a mask.”
Are there any special recommendations for keeping shared spaces and surfaces clean?
“Typically you'd suggest wiping down surfaces and keeping them clean - again, lots of good hand washing. And then outside of that, there's not a lot of other things to do. There's been a lot of debate in the medical community about how long this virus can live on inanimate surfaces. There have been some papers published early-on that were saying that the virus could live for two or three days on inanimate surfaces - but those studies were done in very controlled environments that controlled temperature and humidity. Outside of those types of environments, we're not really sure how long that the virus lives on inanimate surfaces. We know that it's very sensitive to heat, it's very sensitive to changes in humidity and it's very sensitive to sunlight.”
What are your recommendations for reducing exposure in swimming pools?
“I can tell you what we've done at our pool, which is that there's a limited number of people who are allowed to go to the pool at any one time. There's a reservation system. You wash your hands when you go in. The deck chairs on the pool are spaced out. The grill has very limited service if any service at all. And again, you are keeping your distance. I'm spending my time with my family members when I'm at the pool, but aside from that, if I want to visit with my friends when I'm at the pool, I'm keeping at least six feet away from them and again lots of good hand washing. … We don't think of this virus as something that is transmissible through pool water, so that part of it we don't worry about.”
What should we do if we get sick while we are away?
“I would advise you to seek medical care. So, take an assessment of how sick you are or what kind of sickness you have, and then seek medical care.”