What You Need to Know-Week of November 2nd
The most important weekly updates for you to keep your community healthy
In this Update:
1. Information You Need: How to visit family safely?
2. Information You Need: MMR vaccine and children
3. Quick Question: Is someone noninfectious after their isolation period ends?
1. Information You Need: How to visit family safely?
After spending months physical distancing, many of us are eager to visit family and friends. However, it is important to remember that there is no risk-free option to visit family or friends in person. If you do decide to plan a trip, there are certain precautions that you can take to reduce your own, and your loved ones’ risk of COVID-19. The steps below may help you decide if travelling is a good idea, and if so, how to do so more safely.
Consider the risk level
- It is first important to decide whether or not your travel is essential.
- If you intend on visiting a friend or family member that is over the age of 65, has underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, is immunocompromised, or has a chronic lung condition (e.g., asthma or COPD), it may be important to avoid a visit, or you may need to take additional precautions (e.g., quarantining for 14 days before visiting in person).
- It should be noted that how you quarantine is critical to the level of risk that you may be introducing to additional family members. If you carry out essential activities such as food shopping in person, while the individuals you are visiting do not go anywhere in person, you will still be elevating their level of risk.
- Many states have travel restrictions in place and may require you to quarantine upon arrival. It is important to be prepared for what these restrictions may be for your destination. They may also vary by where you are traveling from.
Have conversations with your family members or friends to know everyone’s comfort levels.
- It is okay to say no to visiting family or friends. At the end of the day everyone’s safety and health is most important.
- Having conversations about boundaries and precautions (e.g., only visiting outdoors, wearing cloth face coverings, physical distancing) can help everyone understand what others are comfortable with and can avoid stressful situations later.
- You should let the person who is the most conservative with their choices be the level that you adhere to. For example, if you visit someone who doesn’t ever go out shopping in person, etc. you should also not go shopping in person while you stay with them. Your exposure and risk behavior influences their risk as long as you are together.
Think about how you will travel to your destination
- Use the flowchart we provided in our previous update “Is it safe to fly” to see if you should travel and how you will get there.
- Driving is a safer alternative to flying because you may reduce your contacts by avoiding airports and airplanes.
- If you do intend to drive there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of exposure while on your road trip.
- At the hotel: Choose hotels that have exterior doors and individual unit AC. Open the doors, wipe down surfaces and turn on the fan to air out the hotel and sanitize prior to bringing your things into the room. You should also bring your own pillows. Wipe down high touch surfaces like door handles etc.
- Pack your own food or go only through drive throughs that you know have good protocols for hygiene.
- Pay at the pump for fuel.
- Minimize any time spent in high traffic restrooms such as truck stops.
- If it is a long road trip, make sure you have multiple cloth face coverings. Put the one you aren’t wearing in the sun. Or carry some disposable coverings with you.
If possible, find a way to quarantine yourself for 14 days before and after your arrival.
This is not always possible, but it is a great idea.
- You could rent a home for two weeks and once the two weeks is over you could visit your family and friends safely. If you cannot afford to be in a separate place, see if there is an area in the home where you can minimize your interactions.
- A basement
- A room with a seperate entrance or bathroom.
- If you are traveling somewhere warm, you could even use a tent outside in the yard (one of our AZCOVIDTXT team’s family members did this and they only went into the house masked to use the restrooms, etc.)
- Wear cloth face coverings if you are entering a home and you haven’t quarantined.
- It is also a very good idea for those you are visiting to also quarantine for 14 days prior to the visit.
- While you cannot test out of quarantine if you have had a definite exposure to SARS-CoV-2, what is being described here is an assumption of exposure during travel. One way to further reduce potential risk is to take a COVID test approximately 5-8 days upon arrival. PCR is more sensitive. If you have had a known exposure you should not travel or visit others.
Reduce contacts other than those you are visiting with.
If you decide to visit your family or friends in person, you should avoid close contact with anyone else outside those you are visiting. This does not mean that you cannot go to the grocery store, it just means that you should avoid any unnecessary outings and close contact with people other than those you are visiting. Always adhere to the practices of the most conservative in your group. If there are people who take greater risks, this will increase your risk as well.
- Follow COVID-19 safety precautions
- Whenever possible, be sure you and everyone travelling with you wears a cloth face covering and maintains physical distancing.
- Be outdoors as much as possible or open windows to improve ventilation.
- Bring 70% alcohol based hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with you
Learn more about Domestic Travel During COVID-19
Halloween is coming up soon and it is important to consider the risk level of activities that you plan on participating in! It is always safer to participate in online activities (e.g., online costume parties with friends and family) or activities with the people that you live with (e.g., carving pumpkins). However, if you do plan on participating in a moderate or high risk activity, here are some ways to help reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 and of spreading it to others:
2. Information You Need: Children’s MMR Vaccine and COVID-19
It is now more important than ever to receive your regular vaccines!
Research is demonstrating that existing vaccines may help in reducing complications or severe symptoms associated with the COVID-19 virus. We have previously discussed the importance of getting flu shots during a pandemic – for more information regarding flu shots, check our September 7th update. However, scientific evidence also suggests that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine may reduce the risk of inflammation caused by COVID-19 and it is possible that the vaccine leads to an increased immune response in children. It is still uncertain how long this possible increased protection would last for COVID. However, measles, mumps and rubella immunity from the MMR vaccine lasts decades (maybe even your lifetime!) after the shot series is completed in childhood.
The theory behind this lies in the type of vaccine. Live attenuated vaccines, such as the MMR vaccine, are weakened versions of the actual virus. This category of vaccine has been shown to provide protection against not only the specific virus that the vaccine is targeted (e.g., Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), but also potentially other viruses as well. You can think of this type of vaccine as a workout for your immune response that is training your immune system to defend against a variety of other pathogens that it may encounter in the future. If you have children, be sure that they receive their scheduled vaccines, including the MMR vaccine!
3. Quick Question: Is someone contagious after their isolation period ends?
Most COVID-19 patients with symptoms are considered no longer infectious when they are 10 days past first symptoms AND have been fever free for at least 24 hours AND your other symptoms are improving. In some cases, people who fall into this category may still test positive 10 days after their symptoms have resolved. Although they are not likely contagious, those who test positive should take additional precautions, wear a mask and limit their interactions with others.
For those who never showed symptoms: Wait until 10 days from your positive test to come out of isolation. If you start to have symptoms then you will want to follow the guidance above and stay in isolation until 10 days after symptoms started AND 24 hours after your last fever without medications AND when other symptoms are improving.
For those with very serious illness and hospitalization. CDC guidance indicates: A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce infectious virus beyond 10 days. For these people, they may need to extend the duration of isolation and precautions for up to 20 days after symptom onset. If you or someone you know had severe illness they should consult with their doctor to determine when they can end isolation.
The next update will cover information about having stressful conversations with family about the holidays. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to COVID-19 in Arizona, please complete next week’s AZCOVIDTXT survey that you will receive via text in about a week.