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Dr. Leana Wen: 5 questions to ask yourself when contemplating summer travel

Mika Brzezinski recently chatted with the emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore about special precautions to keep in mind.
Diane, a nurse from Houston, sunbathes next to her husband in Miami Beach, Fla., on June 16, 2020.Eva Marie Uzcategui / AFP via Getty Images

Americans have never been more ready than to get out of the house.

But as states reopen and travel restrictions ease up amid COVID-19, many are wondering if it’s safe to hit the road or get on a plane this summer — and if there are any special precautions that should be taken.

Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski recently asked Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore, for her advice. Dr. Wen said there are five questions to ask yourself when you’re deciding whether and how to travel:

1. Is the trip essential?

“Travel exposes you to people, and there are new considerations with coronavirus. Ask yourself if the trip is something you must take,” advised Dr. Wen. “You might decide it's necessary to see an ailing relative, but that you can put off an optional work trip. Or that instead of flying across the country with your kids over summer break, you want to vacation somewhere within easy driving distance instead.”

2. Is the area I'm going to an emerging hotspot?

“There are surges of coronavirus happening in numerous parts of the country. It's best to avoid traveling to these areas if possible,” said Dr. Wen. “Look at not only the state but also the specific city and county you're going to. The map of these hotspots will change, so keep a close eye and be flexible with travel planning.”

3. Are there quarantine requirements?

This week, the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut announced a 14-day quarantine for visitors coming from states that have higher levels of infection.

“Other states may impose additional requirements in coming days,” said Dr. Wen. “Knowing the requirements will help you plan your trip: you don't want to go somewhere only to be in quarantine or be caught off guard when you need to be quarantined when you return.”

4. How long is the trip?

“Time of exposure is a major risk factor for increasing infection,” noted Dr. Wen. “A short flight or train ride would be safer than a longer one. Driving may be safer still, as you have more control over who is around you (just be extra careful at rest stops and sanitize your hands after touching high-touch surfaces like doorknobs).”

5. How can I limit the number of contacts?

“If you're going to be away for a period of time, renting a house is better than staying in multiple hotels,” said Dr. Wen. “A trip to go hiking will expose you to far fewer people than a visit to the amusement park. If you're going to the beach, try to go somewhere that is less frequented and that you can easily maintain a 6-foot physical distance.”