Texas Physicians Urge Spring Break Safety Precautions
A spring break vacation might sound like a great idea after a year of pandemic-related stress, isolation, and social distancing, but Texas physicians say now is not the time to let our guard down. The Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) School Reopening Workgroup says regardless of what you do for spring break, traveling and gathering in large groups away from home still bring high risk for spreading or catching COVID-19.
“I completely understand the desire for activity and variety after a long and often monotonous year, but the coronavirus is not taking a break,” said Valerie Smith, MD, chair of the TMA School Reopening Workgroup and a TMA COVID-19 Task Force member. “Outdoor activities where you can distance from other families are the safest options, while indoor activities where people are close together, such as night clubs, carry a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“Remember, most Texans aren’t yet vaccinated, and while case trends are improving, we still have significant community spread of COVID-19,” the Tyler physician said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions against traveling at this stage of the pandemic. Booking a flight or riding a train or bus filled with passengers poses a potentially high risk for spreading or catching COVID-19. If traveling is essential, CDC recommends taking a COVID-19 PCR test one to three days before leaving home or gathering with large groups. Stay home if you or a family member tests positive. While traveling in public or gathering with anyone from outside your home, wear a mask and practice physical distancing. When the vacation is over, CDC recommends testing to return safely to work or school: Take a COVID-19 test three to five days after returning home and self-quarantine for a full seven days, even if the test is negative. Travelers who do not test after returning home should self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
“We are making progress in both vaccinations and community control of COVID-19,” said Dr. Smith. “If we continue to use the measures that we know work, we will have further opportunities to travel and with fewer restrictions in the near future.”
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 55,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
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