As many start making spring break travel plans, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan is reminding area residents to pack COVID-19 safety tips along with beach towels, swimsuits, and sun block — or whatever vacation needs you may be packing in your suitcase.
Whether you’re traveling on a cruise ship, traveling in the United States, or traveling internationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tools and resources to make your trip as safe and healthy as possible.
In addition, the CDC offers details about travel requirements in your destination, mask requirements, vaccine requirements and more at its website. which may be accessed at www.cdc.gov.
The CDC’s new COVID-19 community levels recommendations do not change current travel requirements, including the requirement to wear masks on public transportation and indoors in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports.
“Travelers should heed safety guidelines before they leave on a trip and upon returning home,” said Lisa Peacock, health officer with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “Taking precautions will help assure you are healthy to travel, stay well during your vacation, and return in good health to share stories about your adventures with family and friends.
“Testing is widely available in most areas with quick turnaround time to meet any requirements you may encounter and is also a tool you can use after vacation to assure you have returned healthy,” Peacock added.
The health department continues to offer COVID-19 vaccination clinics across its four-county region of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties.
In addition, the health department has testing clinics with quick turnaround results so there is no interruption to travel plans. No symptoms or doctor’s order is necessary. All ages are welcome and no appointment is needed, although pre-registration via nwhealth.org/covid19test.html or by calling (800) 432-4121, will save time at the testing location.
Testing is also available at the health department’s new mobile clinic. For the mobile unit schedule, visit www.nwhealth.org.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is also reminding residents to not travel under the following circumstances:
- You are sick, even if you recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days or are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.
- You tested positive for COVID-19.
- Do not travel until a full 10 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.
- You are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test.
- You had close contact with a person with COVID-19 and are recommended to quarantine.
- Do not travel until a full five days after your last close contact with the person with COVID-19. It is best to avoid travel for a full 10 days after your last exposure.
If you must travel during days six through 10 after your last exposure:
- Get tested at least five days after your last close contact. Make sure your test result is negative and you remain without symptoms before traveling. If you don’t get tested, avoid travel until a full 10 days after your last close contact with a person with COVID-19.
- Properly wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others for the entire duration of travel during days six through 10. If you are unable to wear a mask, you should not travel during days six through 10.
If you had close contact with a person with COVID-19 but are NOT recommended to quarantine:
- Get tested at least five days after your last close contact. Make sure your test result is negative and you remain without symptoms before traveling.
- If you had confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days, you do not need to get tested, but you should still follow all other recommendations (including if you develop COVID-19 symptoms).
- If you travel during the 10 days after your last exposure, properly wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others for the entire duration of travel during the 10 days. If you are unable to wear a mask, you should not travel during the 10 days.
According to the MI Safe Start Map, which tracks the levels of COVID-19 indicators, the Traverse City Region (which includes Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties) is at a risk level of “substantial” as of March 7. For the week of Feb. 28-March 7, weekly cases per 100,000 was at 75.3, which is still above the threshold of 50.
The test positivity rate in the Traverse City Region for that same week was at 7.2%
Additionally, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan on Tuesday reported a total of 70 new COVID-19 cases and seven COVID-19 associated deaths for the week of March 2-8.
Of that number, 13 new cases were reported in Antrim County, followed by 11 in Charlevoix County, 21 in Emmet County and 25 in Otsego County. Emmet County also reported three COVID-19 associated deaths in that week timeframe, while Antrim County had two deaths and one death apiece was reported in both Charlevoix and Otsego counties.
For more information, visit www.nwhealth.org.