After months hunkered down at home, many Americans are planning their summer vacations.
And while the country continues to reopen, a spike in coronavirus cases in a slew of states proves everyone needs to stay vigilant in adhering to safety protocols.
This is even more important if your itinerary includes visiting older family members as the CDC says individuals over the age of 65 are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
Before setting out to visit your grandparents or other elder relatives it’s important to assess risk by taking into account their age and underlying health conditions.
Dr. William Miller, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University College of Public Health, also recommends taking precautions two weeks prior to making your visit by limiting public outings, wearing a mask and practicing social distance to minimize the chance of getting infected, reported NPR.
Miller believes traveling by car is safer than flying as the highest risks with driving occur when you stop for food or to use a restroom.
Dr. Ravina Kullar, an epidemiologist and spokesperson for the Infectious Disease Society of America, recommends taking steps to limit your exposure on the road.
"If you have to fill up the gas tank, put gloves on and use hand sanitizer,” Kullar told the outlet. “Pack your own food so there are no additional stops at restaurants."
If staying in a hotel, Kullar advised to "make sure you sanitize everything” by wiping down surfaces with disinfectant.
For those that must fly, it’s suggested to find less populous routes, wear a mask and use hand sanitizer often.
Upon arrival to your destination, Miller advised to quarantine for 14 days prior to seeing any older adults.
"This means a true quarantine — no visits to theme parks, museums or restaurants," Miller said.
If you aren’t able to fully quarantine for 14 days, Kullar advised to keep your visit with elder family members outdoors.
"Sit outside, greet without touching. Keep your distance. Wear a mask and stay outdoors," Kullar said. "Transmission is a much lower probability outside, as long as you are keeping a good 6 feet distance apart, thanks to the constant airflow."
During your stay, it’s also important to avoid crowds and limit contact with anyone outside your family to keep your bubble intact.
If adhering to these health guidelines is not possible or feels overwhelming, another option is to just stay home and visit your older family members once it’s completely safe.