By John Diedrich
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
June 19, 2020
As our world continues to open amid the coronavirus pandemic, we are tracking the numbers. But many of us have questions about how we can protect ourselves and others. What can we do to slow the transmission of COVID-19?
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has assembled a panel of experts from the University of Wisconsin’s Madison and Milwaukee campuses. They will periodically answer questions from readers. This is the second installment. Read the first here.
We also have doctors answering your personal health questions. And here are other pieces discussing risks and answering your questions.
Please keep in mind scientists and doctors continue to learn much about this new virus, and guidance is changing. They will provide the best information that is available.
I am scheduled to fly next week. What precautions should my wife and I be taking?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still urge individuals to avoid non-essential travel, especially if you are sick. If you must travel by plane, there are things you can do to make it as safe as possible. Also, there are a few changes to be aware of:
1) Wear a mask and maintain a six-foot distance from those outside your household, including while in line for check-in, at security, waiting at the gate, and boarding.
2) Passengers are allowed one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces in carry-on luggage. Bring it and use it!
3) Changes are coming to the security process to minimize TSA worker contact with your personal belongings. You may be asked to scan your own boarding pass. Also, carry-on food needs to be separated into a clear plastic bag, and if you forget to remove something like a laptop, you may be asked to exit security to remove it yourself.
4) Many airlines are limiting snacks and beverages available in-flight. Bring your own.
5) Many airlines are capping seats per flight, keeping middle seats empty, and seating alternating rows. This varies so you may still end up with people seated nearby. Keep your mask on (many airlines require this) and choose a window seat if available.
6) Disinfect armrests, tray tables and window ledges (travelers are also permitted to bring individually-packaged alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes in carry-on luggage).
7) Be aware that your destination or home state may have a health or travel advisory as well as guidelines for self-quarantine after travel.
8) Consider minimizing close contact with others for 14 days after you fly, particularly if you live with or are visiting someone who is at high risk of complications from COVID-19.
9) Monitor your symptoms and get tested if you suspect you have COVID-19 and wait to travel back home until you have met the criteria for ending isolation if you test positive. For more tips, see a related post on the Dear Pandemic Facebook Page.
— Amanda M. Simanek, PhD, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Zilber School of Public Health and associate editor for the Dear Pandemic Facebook page.