‘With COVID-19, you never know’: health expert suggests travelers book spring, summer trips cautiously

Kent Co. Health Dept. epidemiologist says vaccine may not be available for travelers before spring break
Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 05, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — According to the Kent County Health Department, Michigan is doing well in its fight against COVID-19. Lead epidemiologist Brian Hartl said officials were expecting a surge after Thanksgiving but it didn’t happen. In fact, numbers have since been "decreasing to leveling off."

READ MORE: Kent County ranks among best in Midwest for staying home over Thanksgiving

“Right now, obviously Michigan is in a pretty good spot in terms of our numbers,” Hartl said during a Zoom interview on Tuesday. “There are some states across the country that aren’t. They’re seeing their numbers increase. They’re seeing their hospitalizations increase.”

So, Hartl suggested that travelers learn more about the COVID restrictions of the states and places they're traveling to for spring break or summer vacation before booking anything. The CDC lists the COVID numbers for each state and has direct links to the state’s health departments.

He said travelers should avoid hot spots.

“I think once you’re there, you kind of have to abide by whatever rules are there in terms of what’s open. Are restaurants, amusement parks, and entertainment facilities open?” Hartl said. “Or are you going to go and hang out in the house by the pool?”

Hartl added that it’s unlikely that travelers will be able to get the vaccine anytime soon. Currently the vaccine is only going to frontline workers and health professionals as part of phase one of the state's rollout plan.

“Right now things have been a little bit slower than we had hoped in terms of the vaccine rollout,” he said. “Even though it’s a great thing to do, I wouldn’t bank on getting the vaccine before this summer.”

Hartl highly recommended that no one travel if he or she is sick. In fact, they may not be allowed to board an airplane if they are. However, if they are determined to travel, he said it's best to go insured.

RELATED: Travel industry taking steps to welcome people back in 2021

“I think typically I don’t get travel insurance usually because it’s expensive and sometimes you don’t need it,” Hartl said. “But with COVID-19, you never know. Things could change really quickly in terms of the activity and the place that you’re going. You may be exposed. You may get sick. And that could completely change your travel plans.”

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