With states across the country issuing instructions for residents to remain reception to assist curb the coronavirus outbreak, readers from Atlanta to Central Oregon emailed with questions on whether it’s safe to pass by car. Over the phone, email and in text messages, we asked experts in epidemiology and infectious diseases for answers — and what precautions you ought to take, if you want to hit the road, to remain safe from infection.
“It’s not necessarily about getting into the car,” said Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, a worldwide health physician and vice-chair of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s global health committee. “What really matters is what you’re getting to do once you get somewhere.”
With the new travel restrictions, are people allowed to drive to a special state? Will there be problems coming back?
As far as whether pass by car is permitted, that’s determined by where you reside . for instance, Puerto Rico, US territory that has stringent restrictions in situ , prohibits residents from going anywhere besides the supermarket or pharmacy after 9 p.m. — or risk a $5,000 fine or six months in jail.
Be sure to understand your state’s rules and if you would like to travel out of state, those of your destination and any states you want to travel through.
“Given the strain we have already got on our health care systems we don’t want people flocking to at least one place, getting sick, then placing even more of a strain on the health care system” there, Dr. Kuppalli said, noting samples of people traveling to Hawaii, where additional illnesses would add undue strain to the state’s already overburdened system.
First consider why you would like to travel.
“Traveling longer distances by car isn’t advisable immediately , unless it’s of a more urgent nature,” said Rachel Patzer, an epidemiologist and director of health services research at Emory University School of drugs . “If it’s far enough that it requires you to refuel or stop for food, this might be harder to practice social distancing and will put you or others in danger .”
Moreover, she said, “If you bought sick and were distant from home it’s going to be important for you to understand where to travel to urge care, which can be harder if you’re on the road traveling.”
I need to drive a far distance, but the trip is in just one state. Is that OK?
Again, traveling short distances are better than long ones, albeit you’re not leaving the state, Dr. Patzer said.