Unlike many of our governors and medical experts, the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) is not telling Americans that they need to stay home for Thanksgiving.
Instead, the advocacy group issued a series of warnings designed to help people stay safe no matter their plans.
The first message is not surprising: wear a mask at all times in public.
“The travel industry is all-in on this. Evidence is only growing stronger that universal mask-wearing is effective in containing the spread of the COVID virus,” USTA President Roger Dow said. “We are disappointed to see that the mask-wearing in public is not, quite frankly, embraced by everyone as it should be.”
The lobbying group for the travel industry did not rip into the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) over this recommendation.
“This further underscores the need to be really smart and highly vigilant on health and safety protocols if you are going to travel,” Dow told Florida Daily. “Please heed the steps that are prescribed by medical and health professionals.”
Around 50 million Americans will travel over the Thanksgiving weekend. Dow said he believes the figure is this high due to what he called “COVID fatigue.”
“Americans are telling us from our research that they are tired of being at home. They don’t want to give up taking trips, and they want to see their friends and family,” Dow said, adding that he fully believes people have and will continue to ignore stay-at-home orders.
Most of those 50 million Americans will be hitting the road by car, not traveling on an airplane. However, the USTA’s epidemiologist Dr. Michael Parkinson said care must be given in the car as well.
“I think you’ve got to be super smart about where you stop if you are on the road. A lot of people are carrying their meals with them,” he said.
Parkinson warned about the regular types of precautions while on the road, most especially hand washing in public restrooms and wearing masks anywhere in public. He also had advice for Americans once they reached their destination.
“Stay outdoors when possible. Increase indoor ventilation when possible. Open windows. Air circulation is your friend,” Parkinson said.
Parkinson said it is a good idea for Americans to know their entire holiday travel route to understand any restrictions that may in place on the roads and the number and percent of positive COVID-19 cases at the final destination.
With so many people getting tested the week before Thanksgiving to get a clean bill of health before visiting family, Parkinson is worried that people will get a false sense of security. A negative test for COVID-19 only measures that moment, not those that come just before or after.
“The spacing of people dramatically drops infectious disease,” he said.
The USTA’s report on recommendations can be read here.
Reach Mike Synan at firstname.lastname@example.org.