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Health experts urge COVID-19 caution as spring break approaches

As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, some may want to venture out during spring break, but health officials are still urging caution.

SEATTLE — As states ease restrictions and COVID-19 vaccine access expands, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people to only travel if they have to.

“Every time we've had a surge in travel, we've had a surge in [COVID-19] cases,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “As we get more and more people vaccinated, we look and as our cases continue to come down, we look forward to revisiting this guidance again.”

But after a year of quarantine, the desire to get up and get out on vacation is growing.

The Travel Security Administration (TSA) said more than 1 million travelers went through U.S. airports Friday, the highest daily total since March 2020.

“I do really empathize with people wanting to get out,” said Dr. Avantika Waring from Kaiser Permanente. “The weather starting to get nicer, and people want to go travel and explore.”

Waring said it is easy to understand that many may be feeling “pandemic fatigue,” but now is the time to be more cautious.

“Right now, we just don't have herd immunity,” said Waring. “We don't have enough people who've been fully vaccinated. They feel like it's OK to just go out and be in the world.”

And if you must travel, Waring said there is more to consider.

“I think really thinking about where you're going, what you're going to be doing when you get there, thinking about what the local rates of infection are, and that destination,” she said.

Waring said a local trip like going on a hike or even camping could cure your travel bug. Washington State Parks is allowing camping on March 22 when the state moves to Phase 3 of reopening.

“Just the sheer fact that it requires a lot of planning to travel nowadays, so it may actually be more relaxing and less stressful to pick a local trip,” said Waring.

If you are traveling, the TSA asks that you please:

  • Wear a face mask while traveling on all public modes of transportation. Remembering to cover both your nose and mouth with the mask.
  • Be vigilant about leaving prohibited items at home to reduce the likelihood that you will need to come in physical contact with a TSA officer who would have to confiscate prohibited items. (Check for prohibited items here)
  • Be ready when you arrive, with your valid ID ready. Don't bring any liquid over 3.4 ounces. (Hand sanitizers are excluded from this rule. You have a 12-ounce limit for those in carry-on luggage.)
  • Absolutely no firearms/guns at security checkpoints. Passengers can only fly with firearms in checked baggage. The TSA has guidance here on properly packing and declaring firearms in baggage. 
  • Enroll in TSA PreCheck

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