With leisure travel ramping up, doctors are urging people to take cautions before leaving on trips.
"Clearly there's a lot greater safety if you've been fully vaccinated, meaning you've had your one (Johnson & Johnson) or two (Pfizer or Moderna) shots, and waited the appropriate time thereafter," said Dr. Lisa Pickett, the Chief Medical Officer at Duke Health.
Through Tuesday, 19.1% of North Carolina adults were fully vaccinated. It's a significant percentage, but certainly not high enough to forego the 3 W's, especially when traveling.
"It is very concerning and certainly if you look at the data here in North Carolina, what we're seeing, we have survived the mountain, but we're certainly not in the valley by any means. We're about at the point where we were last fall," said Dr. Emily Sickbert-Bennett, the Director of UNC Medical Center's Infection Prevention.
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Though state COVID-19 metrics have dipped from their peak around the holidays, there were 2,098 new cases reported Wednesday, and 981 people in hospitals, the third consecutive day of increases.
However, that hasn't tempered interest in leisure travel.
Traveling by personal vehicle is safer than by plane or train, and you should take appropriate safety measures if doing the latter.
"Once you arrive at a place, think about the activities that are safer to do, where you stay make sure you clean everything down. When you're in common spaces, wear a mask and stay apart, and wash your hands. And then try to do as many activities as you can outside or just with your household or people you've chosen as your personal group," Pickett said.
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If you're at a hotel or motel, avoid crowded spaces such as elevators and lobbies and wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
You should consider your eating schedule to try to limit interactions.
"I really would encourage people to eat outdoors. I think it's safer right now to eat outdoors when possible, at off-hours when a restaurant may be less crowded," Pickett said.
Outdoor recreational activities, whether it's at the beach or amusement parks, are generally considered safer than prolonged periods indoors, though doctors recommend you stay close within your group.
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A travel agent recommends people familiarize themselves with local travel restrictions and requirements before leaving, including possible rules on mandated quarantines.
When the trip is finished, taking appropriate steps can help prevent possible exposures at home.
"It would be safest for you to limit your interactions if you were incubating the virus and interacted with other people upon returning people, (as) you certainly could transmit it in that manner," Sickbert-Bennett said.
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