Ways to stay safe from contracting COVID-19 while traveling this holiday season

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An infectious disease expert with Memorial Hermann shared tips with ABC13 as millions are expected to travel this holiday season.

According to American Automobile Association, more than 109 million people will travel 50 miles or more between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 by air, road or rail. This will be an almost 34% increase compared to holiday travel this time last year in 2020.

Dr. Linda Yancey, an infectious disease expert, shared tips for families to keep in mind as they plan to get together.

"Be aware of where you are traveling to," Dr. Yancey said. "Right now, we have a relatively low number of cases here in Texas, but the northeast is absolutely on fire. So if you are going to be traveling to an area that has a high rate of COVID-19, please take precautions. Get that booster or consider delaying travel until that case number starts going down in the place that you are going."

Dr. Yancey not only encouraged folks to get their COVID-19 booster shot but the flu shot as well.

"With air travel, the safest place for you is in the airplane itself because airplanes have great air circulation," Dr. Yancey said. "You're really only sharing air with the people in your aisle, the aisle in front of you, the aisle behind you and the aisle across the row. Whereas in the airport, you're sharing air with hundreds and hundreds of people, so if you are going to eat, the safest thing to do is to go ahead and purchase your food in the airport, but then wait to eat it until you get on the plane when you're just in a safer environment."

While getting a COVID-19 test may be required to travel to certain places this holiday season, Dr. Yancey said she recommends people get tested before and after any large gatherings. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), if you feel sick or have any symptoms at all, including headache, fatigue, cough or fever, do not host or attend a gathering.

"The most important thing about get-togethers is going to be the rapid testing that is now available to us," Dr. Yancey said, "In fact, most insurances will now reimburse you for the cost of those rapid tests. Now, the rapid tests have some limitations, but what they will give you is important information on if you're contagious today. Think of that rapid test as a day pass."

For the latest on CDC guidance for the holidays and travel, visit the CDC website.

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