UVA infectious disease experts caution against Labor Day travel

UVA infectious disease experts caution against Labor Day travel

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – If you were planning on hopping on a plane and finding a new place to celebrate the long weekend, you may want to rethink your decision.

Infectious disease specialists at UVA Health say whenever we’ve had a period of increased travel and more people come together, there’s been a noticeable increase in COVID cases.

“We’ve seen how that story ends and I rather just leave that book on the shelf,” Dr. Taison Bell with UVA Health said. “I don’t want to read that again.”

That ‘book’ was read almost a year ago at Thanksgiving, when case counts rose as people got together to feast. Although vaccinations were not available then, Bell says still best to play it safe, even if you may think you’re in the clear because you’re vaccinated.

“I think it’s just important to remember that Delta has really changed everything. It’s very different than the earlier part of the summer when cases were going down and we were starting to lose some restrictions,” Bell said. “This is really the most infectious version of the virus that we’ve seen so far.”

Bell says your best bet is just to explore your own town.

“I think it’s the better part to be on the safe side and do things locally. There’s lots to do in our local area,” he said.

If you are going to travel, there are ways to reduce your risk.

“Trying to limit indoor gatherings,” Bell said. “And if you do have to do it, have everyone mask or some more people that are vaccinated getting together. Try to do things outdoors, in addition to frequent hygiene, all the things that we know work to mitigate the spread of disease.”

UVA Health’s Doctor Costi Sifri has some similar advice. In addition, he recommends driving instead of flying and also being cautious about where you are going.

“There may be some specifics about where you’re traveling,” Sifri said. “So certainly, if you’re going somewhere with a lot of Delta in the community, and it’s really stressing hospitals… that would be another level of concern. If you’re traveling someplace with less infection, then maybe that’d be a different thing.”

Both doctors and the CDC advise that if you are unvaccinated, you should not be traveling right now. If you are vaccinated and can’t change your plans, just make sure you travel safely and limit your risks.

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