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Tips for staying safe on vacation during COVID-19

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NEW ORLEANS – Lots of folks are going stir crazy staying home, but worried about germs if they venture out. Our travel expert, WGNO Reporter Stephanie Oswald, spoke with Dr. Marlon Joseph of Ochsner Health Center about the most important tips to remember when taking a vacation during this pandemic.

“When we do travel, we definitely want to check the locations that we’re going to see if COVID-19 is actively spreading or surging. Almost everything we do now has risk, especially if we travel outdoors,” says Dr. Joseph.

He says that The CDC website is the best source for information on Coronavirus numbers for destinations across the country.

Crowded beaches are proof that vacations are still happening, and while experts agree that exploring outside is safer than a holiday focused on indoor activities such as spending time in a casino or indoor game center, social distancing must happen in every scenario — even when you’re in the ocean.

“Salt water is not a favorable environment for coronavirus growth and replication so that’s a very good thing. However, if you are in the water around a large group of people, the same rules apply as if you were on land,” says Dr. Joseph.

Keep your distance when you’re in the water, and when you get out, don a mask if you’re in close proximity with others.

On the road, drive-throughs have always been a popular option, but now they should be the only choice for road warrior families crossing state lines.

When you’re packing the car, be sure to include extra hand sanitizer (with at least 60 percent alcohol), gloves and masks for each passenger.

You should also call ahead to any specific attractions on your list, to be sure of what to expect. This is especially important when you’re traveling with young children.

Dr. Joseph adds, “If you’re going to, say, a national park, you want to check the website for that park since they are ideally updating the information about whether or not certain areas are closed or what activities may or may not be permitted.”

Cleaning procedures will vary from one organization to another, so confirm the protocol at your beach condo and with your rental car company.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about how frequently airplanes are cleaned in between flights. That’s becoming a big issue so I would say the same general rule applies as well when you’re renting transportation. When you do so, I think it’s also a good idea to clean the surfaces down yourself for double protection,” recommends Dr. Joseph.

Bottom line? If you’re feeling more anxiety than excitement, consider taking a virtual vacation for now.

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