Traveling safely with COVID-19 precautions in place | Lehigh Valley Regional News


COVID-19 and the Omicron variant may be putting many travel plans in flux.

With precautions in place, there may be a way to still travel safely.

Head of Bethlehem based VIP vacations Jennifer Doncsecz joined the 69 News Sunrise team on Saturday morning. 

Doncsecz recommends using a travel advisor that specializes in the destination of your choice to make sure all planning goes smoothly and understands the COVID-19 protocols. 





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Your Insider’s Guide To Going To The Rose Parade, From Tips On Viewing To Pandemic Precautions


I’ve been going to the Rose Parade on and off since my 20s. To me, it’s an annual rite of Southern California togetherness to stand in a crowd yelling “Happy New Year!” to people we don’t know. At the same time, the people in the parade have each spent time, tears and money (lots of money!) to come here just to be in our local shindig.

If there were ever a year to go see the parade in person, this is it.

It’s back after the pandemic canceled the 2021 New Year’s Day tradition, and its theme, “Dream, Believe, Achieve” celebrates educators, health professionals and others in public service who have endured very tough times.

Conversely, if there were ever a year to skip the parade and watch it on TV from home, this is it.

It’s happening as the exceptionally contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus is surging in Southern California, so it’s a risky time to be part of a crowd.

Whichever option you choose — hibernate away from the sniffling hordes or brave the great outdoors with thousands — let this be your guide to maximizing your personal safety and enjoyment as 2022 begins.

2020 Rose Parade float animals with construction equipment

In this 2020 Rose Parade float, cartoon animals operate heavy equipment

(Sharon McNary

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LAist.com)

Happy pandemic new year. Okay, let’s get on with it.

Pandemic Precautions

The biggest change in this year’s parade and bowl game are the new pandemic requirements for thousands of spectators and participants.

Participants:

Every band member, football player, parade volunteer, float driver, horse rider and Rose Parade princess has to show proof of having been vaccinated or received a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event they are attending.

Spectators:

Spectators headed to three ticketed events drawing 10,000 or more participants, which the Tournament of Roses considers “mega-events,” will have to meet the same requirements. Those events are:

  • The Rose Bowl game
  • Floatfest post-parade float viewing
  • The Rose Parade grandstands in the security area at TV Corner from Green Street and Orange Grove past the big turn at Colorado Boulevard east to Fair Oaks. 

Proof requirements:

  • The city and Tournament of Roses Association defines “full vaccination” as the two-shot series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Be prepared to  show an official vaccine card or phone app that proves you got your shots, plus a photo ID. 
  • For the proof of a negative test, you’ll need a paper or digital proof from the test provider, plus a photo ID. Self-attestation — where you verbally assure them you’re vaxxed — is not accepted. 
  • There’s a booth at the Rose Bowl where you can get the test done up to 72 hours in advance and get a wristband that will be accepted at the mega-events.
  • To speed entry into events requiring proof, the Rose Bowl is encouraging attendees to upload your vax or negative test information to the Clear Health Pass phone app. It takes about 10 minutes to register, and you’ll need to have your ID and other info handy to complete that step.
  • As of this writing, the proof of vaccination or negative test is NOT  being required of spectators in grandstands east of the secured TV corner area or those attending Bandfest or Equestfest, because they won’t attract more than 10,000 people. 
  • But even though it’s currently not required, because things are still in flux, the Tournament of Roses website is cautioning attendees to “be prepared” to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.
  • Masks are strongly recommended for all events where you’ll come into contact with others. Children over age 2 must wear masks at the events.
graphic showing requirements to enter the Rose Bowl stadium

The Tournament of Roses has these requirements to get into the Rose Bowl stadium.

(Courtesy of Tournament of Roses Association)

The giant float barns that are normally open for ticketed tours of the decorating during the last week of the year are not allowing visitors inside this year due to the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

Getting To The Parade

In 2018, this very publication titled its guide, “How To Survive The Migraine That Is Getting To The Rose Parade.” This was unfair. It doesn’t have to be a headache.

If there IS traffic, then YOU are the traffic. Nobody else is leaving their home in Pasadena at 6 a.m. in the morning. So plan in advance. Here’s the Tournament of Roses survival guide for getting to the parade and finding parking.

On New Year’s Day, in Pasadena, the city adjusts its signal timing and posts hundreds of traffic control people to help move the vehicles along.

Just take the most convenient freeway to Pasadena and follow directions. Best bets are the 210, 134 and 110. The parade route will close to traffic at 10 p.m. with limited major street crossings of the parade route kept open north and south until 6 a.m.

Parking on side streets near the parade route within walking distance of the parade is free. Pasadena lifts its restrictions on overnight parking during the New Year’s holiday. The big exceptions are the no-parking signs on streets designated for use by emergency vehicles.

Paid parking spaces for cars and RVs can be reserved at:

You can also take the Metro L Line (the Gold Line) to Pasadena and get off at any stop between Del Mar and Allen, and walk to Colorado Blvd. Just remember the crowds will be thickest at the intersections closest to the Metro stops, so be prepared to walk a bit farther.

Bringing your bike is another option, although it will be crowded on the Metro, and you may find it a challenge to safely lock your bike in a place that doesn’t interfere with parade crowds.

Very soon after the last parade unit passes, the street opens up to street sweepers, and the water-filled barriers that block some streets are emptied.

The parade takes about 2.5 hours to pass, and it moves at 2.5 miles per hour, but by about noon most parade route traffic is back to normal.

That’s when the traffic control focus shifts to getting many thousands of cars parked and people shuttled on buses from Old Town Pasadena to the Rose Bowl game. (More on that below.)

Rose Parade 2022 route closures

Route closures for the Rose Parade 2022

( Courtesy city of Pasadena)

Parade Grandstand Tickets

The very best seats — if still available — cost $100 to $110 at the grandstands at TV Corner, which are the areas from the start of the parade at Orange Grove and Green Street to Orange Grove and Colorado Blvd. But if you’re sitting in those seats, you have to arrive to pass through security by 6.30 a.m.

This is the area where the bands are still very fresh and precise for the cameras (despite any New Year’s Eve partying). Floats and bands make the 110-degree turn here.

This year, at this portion of Orange Grove, you’ll be able to see a made-for-TV performance by country singer LeAnn Rimes and a dance troupe, which opens the parade.

Beyond Fair Oaks, going west along Colorado Boulevard, grandstand seats cost $60 to $80. Tickets for all grandstands are sold by Sharp Seating.

A row of drummers in red and blue uniforms and tall white hats strapped to their chins carry drums reading "HOPE."

El Salvador marching band in the 2020 parade. The theme was Power of Hope and the event took place just a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic led to shutdowns of much of pubic life.

(Angel Di Bilio

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Getty Images/iStock Editorial)

Accessible Parade Viewing

Three places are set aside where people with physical or vision disabilities can each sit with three guests in accessible (and super-primo) parade viewing areas. The tickets are free, but are in high demand and must be requested in advance, so take this as advice for the 2023 parade.

You can request tickets to accessible viewing places  here, or call (626) 449-4100, or email [email protected]

Sidewalk Parade Viewing

This is what I do most years, and it works out just fine. I wake up around 8 a.m., turn on the TV broadcast, fix myself a plate of party leftovers and a cup of coffee, and run outside at 8:30 a.m., when the parade starts, to see the Stealth Bomber, or some other costly government aircraft, buzz the parade route. My neighbors do this too, and we all say “Happy New Year” to each other.

After that, I go back indoors and watch the first few bands and floats on TV. Then I put on my running shoes and jog 1.8 miles to the parade, arriving just as the first motorcycle police arrive to lead the parade. (You don’t have to do that. I like to run. But it’s a good way to clear the webs from the night before).

When I get there, I’m usually standing about eight people back from the blue “honor line” painted on the asphalt, behind which people can sit or stand. But sightlines are not an issue. Typically about the first four rows of people are sitting in chairs, then standing behind them are kids, then short people, then taller people. And everybody gets a great view of the parade.

My point being, you don’t have to live in Pasadena or stay overnight to see all the spectacle the parade has to offer.

Everything you need or want to see is right there in front of you, even if you are standing toward the back of a crowd. The floats are ginormous. The bands have hundreds of people in them and play very loud, and the horses are quite tall.

And since the parade is 5.5 miles long, you WILL find street parking and a place to stand. If you arrive after the parade has started, that’s fine too. The farther along the parade route you go, the later the parade arrives.

Pro-tip: to see the parade for free, drive your car or get dropped off within about a half-mile of Colorado Boulevard, someplace east of, say, Lake Avenue to Sierra Madre Villa. You can arrive early (like around 7 a.m.) and have a picnic breakfast in your car and walk over to the parade route, or you can get there later and be assured of a place.

The People’s Grandstand

Here’s how some people make it work. Below is what I call “The People’s Grandstand,” and it’s kind of a locals-only institution. Fans create their own little wooden seats that fit nicely into the notches in the stones lining the sloped wall of the 210 Freeway overpass over Sierra Madre Blvd. In the rare rainy year, they have shelter, and in the more typical warm years, they have shade. And they get to view the spectacle of the taller floats folding themselves down to fit under the overpass and opening back up on the other side.

People sit on small wooden seats that help them perch on a sloped wall under a freeway overpass

The People’s Grandstands — Local craftspeople make small wooden seats that fit in the mortar notches in the sloped wall under a the 210 Freeway overpass at Sierra Madre Blvd.

(Sharon McNary

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LAist.com)

Camping Overnight: How Not To Do It

Camping overnight on New Year’s Eve on the Rose Parade route is a venerable local tradition. When I was a kid in the sixties, turning on the TV early New Year’s Day, the local news reporter would interview people who were just waking up in their sleeping bags. Seemed pretty glamorous. But I tried it once, years later — and I can tell you, it’s not.

I didn’t dress warmly enough. I didn’t bring a blanket to wrap up in. I didn’t bring enough money for food. I was in my old Army overcoat, jeans and tennis shoes and a wool cap and the temperature must have been in the 30s. I ended up melting the soles of my shoes trying to get my feet warm on somebody’s hibachi fire. At midnight, there were wonderful battles of Silly String and tortillas and marshmallows that left the street littered with a gummy mess. Around 1 a.m., somebody handed out trash bags, and that’s what I ended up sleeping in until sun-up when a horrible woman woke me up claiming that she had reserved the very ground upon which I was sleeping for her church group.

Things have changed somewhat since then. Pasadena now has a long list of do’s and don’ts for campers that are meant to correct mishaps and misbehavior from prior years. So tortilla fights and running into the street to bomb cars with marshmallows and Silly String are no longer allowed. (But it still happens.)

Plus, ever since the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, there’s been an extra level of security along the parade route that informs the rules.

Camping along the Rose Parade route

These people secured spots along the Rose Parade route and are waiting for the go-ahead to move into the street.

(Andrea Bernstein

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LAist.org)

Camping Overnight: What’s Allowed

  • Arriving early: You can show up on the sidewalk at noon Dec. 31,. and at 11 p.m  you can move yourself and overnight essentials out to the blue-painted honor line in the street.
  • Fires: You can cook or stay warm with a fire, but only if it’s a manufactured barbecue that sits one foot off the ground, and is at least 25 feet away from any building.  You should have a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Pets: However, the city advises against bringing pets to overnight camping because it gets cold, and they might be frightened by loud noises.

Camping Overnight: What’s Not Allowed

  • Reserving space: You cannot reserve space on the sidewalk or in the street by leaving an unattended bunch of chairs or sawhorses or boxes or trash cans or whatever. The city will confiscate them and you’ll lose your place on the parade route as well as your furniture.
  • Heavy furniture: Pasadena Police Department does not want bulky items on the parade route, so no sofas, mattresses or Barcaloungers, partly because they can conceal dangerous items but also because they get left behind and the city has to haul them away. Step stools and ladders are also not allowed.
  • Creative firepits: No fires other than those in manufactured barbecues that sit a foot off the ground. A particular problem are the perforated drums of washing machines that have been used as firepits in past years. Those tend to spread sparks and fire, so they won’t be allowed.
  • Disturbances: No fireworks, no drugs, no alcohol, no loud horns, no drones.  Pasadena has a law against smoking at public events, including the Rose Parade, and that includes tobacco, cannabis or vaping products. The city also bans people selling any items or seating space along the parade route.
People in camp chairs on a grassy area

Victoria Garcia of San Bernardino, left, Bobbi Taylor of Hemet and Dustin Ingle of San Jacinto camp out on Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 31, 2014 before the 2015 Rose Parade.

( MAYA SUGARMAN

/

LAist.com)

The Sideshows

Everybody knows about the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game, but there are some fun holiday side shows you can take family and visitors to see that will cement your status as a true Tournament of Roses insider.

Bandfest

The bands that march in the Rose Parade are fantastic, but they go by pretty fast, and seeing them on TV strips away the big sound and details that make them so much fun to see and hear in person.

But you can get your full-on fix of marching bands at Bandfest, which happens a few days before the parade.

It’s at Robinson Stadium at Pasadena City College at 2 p.m. Dec. 29 and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Dec. 30.

The 18 bands that will march in the parade get divided into three different shows, each opened by the 180-member Pasadena City College Honor Band (50 members of the band are current PCC Lancer Band members and the rest are high school students who audition to play in the band).

Each band performs its field show on the PCC football field before grandstands of family, friends and band fans. Tickets to each performance are $20 and parking is free.

Equestfest

The horses in the Rose Parade do a lot more than just trot along leaving horse droppings for the volunteers in white suits to sweep up. On Dec. 29, Equestfest shows off the horses and riders doing drills and dances, trick riding and roping.

Admission gets you the performance in the arena, plus access to walk through the stables to chat with the riders. It’s at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. There are two shows, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 and free for kids ages 5 and under. VIP tickets are $45.

A man dressed up in a fur Badgers hat of the University of Wisconsin with a woman wearing an apron before the Rose Bowl stadium entrance

Sharon McNary, dressed in an apron required while selling beer for a nonprofit club, stands with a proud Badgers fan outside the Rose Bowl stadium entrance

Rose Bowl Game

The Rose Bowl Game, a.k.a. “The Granddaddy of Them All”, is traditionally the afternoon of New Year’s Day, a few hours after the parade ends. Getting to this 108th Rose Bowl game and Fanfest tailgating is easy because you’re not allowed to drive there or be dropped off.

Everybody has to take the free shuttle bus from Old Town Pasadena. The good news is that every big game at the Rose Bowl has the same drill, so the shuttles run like a well-oiled machine.

The facede of the Rose Bowl has the name in green script with a red rose above. A series of tall columns hold up the structure.

The Rose Bowl stadium.

(Laser1987/Getty Images

/

iStock Editorial)

Grab a shuttle on Corson Ave. between Walnut Street and Fair Oaks Ave. anytime from 10 a.m. to two hours after the game is over. Parking is in the Parsons lot for $45 on Union Street between Fair Oaks and Pasadena avenues. The shuttle is two blocks’ walk from the Memorial Line L (Gold Line) Metro station.

It’s a crowd scene, waiting for the bus, riding it and at the Rose Bowl, so wear your mask and be ready with your vaccine or negative COVID-19 test results once you’re there..

The most specific information for getting to the game and the Fanfest pre-game festivities is on the Rose Bowl Game website.

What do you want to know about how we Play in L.A.?

And, how do you play? Sharon McNary wants to hear your questions and stories about affordable, accessible and inclusive ways we stay active for physical and mental health. 🚵🏻‍♀️ 🎳 🛶 🏕 ⚽️ 💃 🏄🏾‍♂️ 👨🏿‍🦽 🏃🏽‍♀️ 🏓 🛹 🤹🏻‍♀️





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SCVNews.com | Motorists Traveling to Mountains Urged to Take Precautions


The California Department of Transportation partnered with multiple agencies in San Bernardino County Thursday to provide safety tips and information for motorists traveling to mountain areas during the holidays.

A recent storm and another one projected next week by the National Weather Service (NWS) will bring more snow to mountain communities and resorts before Saturday, Dec. 25.

Important information was provided to the public who plan to visit the mountains this winter by Caltrans, the County of San Bernardino Public Works, San Bernardino County Fire, San Bernardino County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol (CHP), United States Forest Service, California Department of Forestry (Cal-Fire), and the National Weather Service.

– Check weather conditions before you go https://www.weather.gov/sgx/ and traffic conditions http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/.

– Add time to your trip in the event there are delays on the roadways. Try not to travel during peak times – Friday, Saturday and Sundays are the busiest on mountain routes during snow conditions. Leave a day early and a day later if possible.

– Bring tire chains to mountain regions during winter months (November through April) even if there is no chain control at the time. Weather conditions change rapidly without notice.

– Prepare your vehicle for travel – check tires, wipers, engine fluids and have a full tank of gas.

– Bring a charged cell phone and charger.

– Bring warm clothing and appropriate shoes/boots for snow conditions.

Never install chains or snow play in the roadway or traffic lanes.

– When snowing, permitted chain installers are there to install your chains for a nominal fee.

– Did you know? The new fine for a citation in a “No Parking” zone on local and state highways in San Bernardino County mountain areas is now $150.00! Please do not park in no parking areas.

– Bring a trash bag – the Clean CA campaign urges all Californians to keep our state beautiful and to please dispose of litter in trash receptacles. Remember that litter is very harmful to wildlife when left behind. Please don’t feed the bears!

– Do not leave broken sleds behind – take them with you and trash them in the appropriate receptacle.

– Always keep watch on your children.

– It is illegal to vend from state highways and BBQing is also not allowed in turnouts.

– Go to legal snow play areas for recreation https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sbnf/recarea/?recid=81723. Never trespass on private property.

– Slow down, provide ample distance to the car in front of you and have patience while driving on mountain routes. Use turnouts if you are driving too slow for motorists behind you.

– Really important! Steer clear of snowplows and heavy equipment working to keep the roads open for everyone! In other words, Don’t Crowd the Plow!

– If it’s raining and you approach running water across the road – Turn Around Don’t Drown!





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BBB Tip: Planning a getaway during the pandemic? Take these precautions | Consumer Watch


CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (BBB) — With coronavirus vaccinations ramping up, many people are looking forward to traveling again. This may mean planning a summer vacation or even a spring break trip.  But the pandemic isn’t over yet, and there are still multiple risks associated with traveling – both to your health and your wallet.

What to Know When Planning a Trip

If you are planning a getaway this spring or summer, BBB recommends the following tips to minimize the risks.

  • Understand the risks and delay plans if possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that “COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are extremely high across the United States.” Since travel increases your risk of infection, CDC recommends delaying unnecessary travel plans to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. In addition, if anyone in your household or at your travel destination is at high risk of infection, everyone in the household should act as if they, themselves are at increased risk of infection.
  • Research travel restrictions. Travel restrictions vary by state and country and are constantly changing. Visit the U.S. State Department’s “Know Before You Go” page and the CDC Travel Planner to get up-to-date information on COVID-19 related travel restrictions as you plan your trip and as your travel dates approach.
  • Take precautions before and after your trip. During the 14 days leading up to your trip, avoid situations that could put you at risk for infection, such as attending large group events or using public transportation, recommends the CDC. Then, get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel and keep a copy of your negative test results with you. After your trip, get tested again 3-5 days after arriving home and make plans to self-quarantine for 7 days after travel, regardless of your test results. The CDC also advises getting vaccinated, if eligible, and waiting until two weeks after your final vaccination dose to travel.
  • Pack a “pandemic bag.” Condé Nast Traveler recommends stocking up on pandemic essentials before you head out. Pack a bag with COVID-19 prevention staples including “hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfecting wipes, health insurance cards, a thermometer, latex gloves (for one-time use in public spaces), and hand soap.” If you’ll be on the road for extended periods of time, it’s a good idea to bring drinks and snacks along too so as to avoid unnecessary stops in public places.
  • Make flexible travel plans. Flexibility is key during the pandemic. Be willing to pay extra for fully refundable flights, car rentals, and accommodations. Your plans may change last-minute due to an unexpected lockdown or infection.
  • Understand what travel insurance covers. CNBC reminds travelers that purchasing travel insurance is wise, but it may not cover every situation. Read the fine print or work with a travel agent to understand how your policy works. Most travel insurance will cover medical expenses if you get sick during your trip or the cost of your trip if you must cancel due to illness, but they may not cover the cost of your trip if you need to cancel because a state or city goes into lockdown unexpectedly. Read BBB’s tips on buying travel insurance. 
  • Opt for a road trip instead of flying. Waiting in security lines and sitting on crowded flights will increase your risk of infection, says Nerd Wallet. If you, or anyone you’ll be in contact with, is in a high-risk group, it’s best to drive. Road travel carries risks too, but it’s much easier to mitigate them from within a smaller space you and your family control. Read BBB’s tips on renting an RV and buying camping gear. 
  • Book accommodations that make it easy to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Business Insider recommends speaking with the hotel or host before you book a stay. Find out what precautions and sanitary measures they are taking in between guests. Inquire about shared facilities, such as gyms, pools, spas, and restaurants. In many cases, such facilities could be shut down until further notice. Make sure you are comfortable with the precautions any hotel or vacation rental has in place ahead of time.
  • Wear a mask and social distance. To protect yourself and your family, CDC advises travelers to wear a mask, avoid crowded areas and stay at least six feet away from others whenever they are in a public space.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking and camping at state and national parks are a great way to enjoy warmer weather since they don’t involve sharing indoor spaces with others. If you want to stay a few days, book your campsite well in advance. Parks have become a popular pandemic vacation option and spaces are limited.



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Traveling when vaccinated: These pandemic precautions are still needed


For vaccinated people who do choose to travel, Rivera urges that they choose trips wisely and use mitigation strategies to protect themselves and others. While renting an RV and driving to the mountains might be safe, for example, she recommends avoiding high-risk activities such as flying, traveling to crowded places, and gathering with anyone outside of one’s household.

“You still need to reduce your risk until the majority of the population is protected,” Rivera said.

The United States is, after all, only now coming down from its highest caseload peak, said Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“We’re not anywhere near to a place where we can control the spread of the virus,” Watson said. “So it is unfortunately not the best time to relax our guard on the personal mitigation measures we’ve been taking, like distancing and masking and just trying to avoid crowds.”

That advice applies to everyone, including those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered from covid-19. And while you can feel more personally protected while traveling once you have been vaccinated, the science is still out on whether the vaccine will stop you from spreading the coronavirus to others.

That means that if you’re not vigilant after being vaccinated, you could be increasing the risk for people you’re traveling to see, others who live in the place you’re traveling to, and people in your community once you return home.

Watson said scientists are hoping to get more data from the vaccine companies on the issue of asymptomatic coronavirus transmission or infection soon.

Saskia Popescu, an infectious-disease epidemiologist and infection preventionist at George Mason University, has been acutely aware of the risks when traveling for work during the pandemic.

“I’m fully vaccinated, and I still take every single precaution with my traveling,” Popescu said. “The thing is, even as we learn more about vaccines and asymptomatic infection, it’s also that it’s 95 percent effective, so there’s still a 5 percent chance [of getting covid-19].”

Popescu said she believes strongly that continuing to wear a mask is not only about protecting herself and others, but also about tacitly encouraging others to continue wearing theirs while many remain at risk.

“It’s really important to be a good role model, a good steward,” Popescu said. “Because if [strangers] see you’re not wearing your mask, they don’t know that you’ve been vaccinated. Why contribute to misperceptions of safety?”

Until we know more about the vaccine, it’s best to wear a mask (or two), continue social distancing and follow other standard coronavirus precautions. A possible end to the pandemic is in sight, Watson reminded, as vaccines ramp up and transmission comes down.

“We’ve all sacrificed so much over the last year,” she said. “I would hate for people to be in a situation where they’ve been so careful this whole time and let down their guard and get someone sick, or get themselves sick, and potentially have a really severe outcome.”

Travel during the pandemic:



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Whitmer concerned about Florida travel, urges precautions


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a March 1, 2021, press conference in Lansing about coronavirus. (Courtesy Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that a factor in Michigan’s surging COVID-19 cases is fewer people were infected earlier in the pandemic than in other states, and she expressed concern about spring break travel to Florida.

Florida and Michigan have reported the highest and second-highest number of cases of a more contagious variant that was first identified in the U.K. Michigan had the United States’ worst infection rate in the past two weeks.

“Yes, I am concerned” about travel between the states, the governor told reporters while attending the opening of a large-scale vaccination site in Oakland County. “It’s a concern no matter what. That’s why we are really encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

She urged people returning from Florida to work from home and have their kids learn virtually for at least a week. She and health officials later recommended that people get tested after in-state, out-of-state or international travel. Michigan will provide about three-dozen pop-up testing sites to make it easier for travelers.

The variant first identified in the U.K. is up to 50% more transmissible than the virus that surged last spring and again in the fall, making it more adept at thwarting measures that were previously effective, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists have concluded it is also more deadly.

Whitmer remained averse to tightening restrictions that were loosened in recent months and continued to emphasize vaccines, which have been given to at least 35% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older, including more than 67% of people 65 and up. She said she will get her first shot Tuesday, alongside one of her daughters, a day after eligibility opens to everyone 16 and older.

“It’s a bit disappointing that as our vaccination rates are going up that our infection rates have not done a similar decline,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said.

The state health department reported nearly 5,500 new coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths. The seven-day average, 5,128, has grown six-fold over nearly six weeks. About 2,600 adults were hospitalized with confirmed infections, more than double the roughly 1,200 in the hospital two weeks ago.

“By the recent numbers, we know we’ve got a bit of a reality check happening,” Whitmer said. “We know that COVID is still very present and it is still a very real threat. We may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but we are still in the tunnel.”

She said Michigan did well keeping COVID-19 metrics low. She suggested that is a reason — along with variants, pandemic fatigue and increased travel — why there is a third wave.

“Because of that, we’ve got fewer people per capita who have antibodies than a lot of other states do,” she said. She noted that while her administration has eased restrictions, it has not gone as far as states that eliminated mask requirements.

More than 17,000 deaths in Michigan have been linked to COVID-19. More than 569,000 people had recovered as of March 26.



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Whitmer Concerned About Florida Travel, Urges Precautions | Florida News


By DAVID EGGERT and MIKE HOUSEHOLDER, Associated Press

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that a factor in Michigan‘s surging COVID-19 cases is fewer people were infected earlier in the pandemic than in other states, and she expressed concern about spring break travel to Florida.

Florida and Michigan have reported the highest and second-highest number of cases of a more contagious variant that was first identified in the U.K. Michigan had the United States’ worst infection rate in the past two weeks.

“Yes, I am concerned” about travel between the states, the governor told reporters while attending the opening of a large-scale vaccination site in Oakland County. “It’s a concern no matter what. That’s why we are really encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

She urged people returning from Florida to work from home and have their kids learn virtually for at least a week. She and health officials later recommended that people get tested after in-state, out-of-state or international travel. Michigan will provide about three-dozen pop-up testing sites to make it easier for travelers.

The variant first identified in the U.K. is up to 50% more transmissible than the virus that surged last spring and again in the fall, making it more adept at thwarting measures that were previously effective, according to the World Health Organization. Scientists have concluded it is also more deadly.

Whitmer remained averse to tightening restrictions that were loosened in recent months and continued to emphasize vaccines, which have been given to at least 35% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older, including more than 67% of people 65 and up. She said she will get her first shot Tuesday, alongside one of her daughters, a day after eligibility opens to everyone 16 and older.

“It’s a bit disappointing that as our vaccination rates are going up that our infection rates have not done a similar decline,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said.

The state health department reported nearly 5,500 new coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths. The seven-day average, 5,128, has grown six-fold over nearly six weeks. About 2,600 adults were hospitalized with confirmed infections, more than double the roughly 1,200 in the hospital two weeks ago.

“By the recent numbers, we know we’ve got a bit of a reality check happening,” Whitmer said. “We know that COVID is still very present and it is still a very real threat. We may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but we are still in the tunnel.”

She said Michigan did well keeping COVID-19 metrics low. She suggested that is a reason, along with variants and other factors, why there is a third wave.

“Because of that, we’ve got fewer people per capita who have antibodies than a lot of other states do,” she said.

More than 17,000 deaths in Michigan have been linked to COVID-19. More than 569,000 people had recovered as of March 26.

Eggert reported from Lansing.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Planning a getaway during the pandemic? Take these precautions


CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (BBB) — With coronavirus vaccinations ramping up, many people are looking forward to traveling again. This may mean planning a summer vacation or even a spring break trip.  But the pandemic isn’t over yet, and there are still multiple risks associated with traveling – both to your health and your wallet.

What to Know When Planning a Trip

If you are planning a getaway this spring or summer, BBB recommends the following tips to minimize the risks.

  • Understand the risks and delay plans if possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that “COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are extremely high across the United States.” Since travel increases your risk of infection, CDC recommends delaying unnecessary travel plans to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. In addition, if anyone in your household or at your travel destination is at high risk of infection, everyone in the household should act as if they, themselves are at increased risk of infection.
  • Research travel restrictions. Travel restrictions vary by state and country and are constantly changing. Visit the U.S. State Department’s “Know Before You Go” page and the CDC Travel Planner to get up-to-date information on COVID-19 related travel restrictions as you plan your trip and as your travel dates approach.
  • Take precautions before and after your trip. During the 14 days leading up to your trip, avoid situations that could put you at risk for infection, such as attending large group events or using public transportation, recommends the CDC. Then, get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel and keep a copy of your negative test results with you. After your trip, get tested again 3-5 days after arriving home and make plans to self-quarantine for 7 days after travel, regardless of your test results. The CDC also advises getting vaccinated, if eligible, and waiting until two weeks after your final vaccination dose to travel.
  • Pack a “pandemic bag.” Condé Nast Traveler recommends stocking up on pandemic essentials before you head out. Pack a bag with COVID-19 prevention staples including “hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfecting wipes, health insurance cards, a thermometer, latex gloves (for one-time use in public spaces), and hand soap.” If you’ll be on the road for extended periods of time, it’s a good idea to bring drinks and snacks along too so as to avoid unnecessary stops in public places.
  • Make flexible travel plans. Flexibility is key during the pandemic. Be willing to pay extra for fully refundable flights, car rentals, and accommodations. Your plans may change last-minute due to an unexpected lockdown or infection.
  • Understand what travel insurance covers. CNBC reminds travelers that purchasing travel insurance is wise, but it may not cover every situation. Read the fine print or work with a travel agent to understand how your policy works. Most travel insurance will cover medical expenses if you get sick during your trip or the cost of your trip if you must cancel due to illness, but they may not cover the cost of your trip if you need to cancel because a state or city goes into lockdown unexpectedly. Read BBB’s tips on buying travel insurance. 
  • Opt for a road trip instead of flying. Waiting in security lines and sitting on crowded flights will increase your risk of infection, says Nerd Wallet. If you, or anyone you’ll be in contact with, is in a high-risk group, it’s best to drive. Road travel carries risks too, but it’s much easier to mitigate them from within a smaller space you and your family control. Read BBB’s tips on renting an RV and buying camping gear. 
  • Book accommodations that make it easy to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Business Insider recommends speaking with the hotel or host before you book a stay. Find out what precautions and sanitary measures they are taking in between guests. Inquire about shared facilities, such as gyms, pools, spas, and restaurants. In many cases, such facilities could be shut down until further notice. Make sure you are comfortable with the precautions any hotel or vacation rental has in place ahead of time.
  • Wear a mask and social distance. To protect yourself and your family, CDC advises travelers to wear a mask, avoid crowded areas and stay at least six feet away from others whenever they are in a public space.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking and camping at state and national parks are a great way to enjoy warmer weather since they don’t involve sharing indoor spaces with others. If you want to stay a few days, book your campsite well in advance. Parks have become a popular pandemic vacation option and spaces are limited.



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Planning a getaway during the pandemic? Take these precautions.


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – With coronavirus vaccinations ramping up, many people are looking forward to traveling again. This may mean planning a summer vacation or even a spring break trip. But the pandemic isn’t over yet, and there are still multiple risks associated with traveling – both to your health and your wallet.

What to Know When Planning a Trip

If you are planning a getaway this spring or summer, BBB recommends the following tips to minimize the risks.

  • Understand the risks and delay plans if possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that “COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are extremely high across the United States.” Since travel increases your risk of infection, CDC recommends delaying unnecessary travel plans to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. In addition, if anyone in your household or at your travel destination is at high risk of infection, everyone in the household should act as if they, themselves are at increased risk of infection.
  • Research travel restrictions. Travel restrictions vary by state and country and are constantly changing. Visit the U.S. State Department’s “Know Before You Go” page and the CDC Travel Planner to get up-to-date information on COVID-19 related travel restrictions as you plan your trip and as your travel dates approach.
  • Take precautions before and after your trip. During the 14 days leading up to your trip, avoid situations that could put you at risk for infection, such as attending large group events or using public transportation, recommends the CDC. Then, get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel and keep a copy of your negative test results with you. After your trip, get tested again 3-5 days after arriving home, and make plans to self-quarantine for 7 days after travel, regardless of your test results. The CDC also advises getting vaccinated, if eligible, and waiting until two weeks after your final vaccination dose to travel.
  • Pack a “pandemic bag.” Condé Nast Traveler recommends stocking up on pandemic essentials before you head out. Pack a bag with COVID-19 prevention staples including “hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfecting wipes, health insurance cards, a thermometer, latex gloves (for one-time use in public spaces), and hand soap.” If you’ll be on the road for extended periods of time, it’s a good idea to bring drinks and snacks along too so as to avoid unnecessary stops in public places.
  • Make flexible travel plans. Flexibility is key during the pandemic. Be willing to pay extra for fully refundable flights, car rentals and accommodations. Your plans may change last-minute due to an unexpected lockdown or infection.
  • Understand what travel insurance covers. CNBC reminds travelers that purchasing travel insurance is wise, but it may not cover every situation. Read the fine print or work with a travel agent to understand how your policy works. Most travel insurance will cover medical expenses if you get sick during your trip or the cost of your trip if you must cancel due to illness, but they may not cover the cost of your trip if you need to cancel because a state or city goes into lockdown unexpectedly. Read BBB’s tips on buying travel insurance.
  • Opt for a road trip instead of flying. Waiting in security lines and sitting on crowded flights will increase your risk of infection, says Nerd Wallet. If you, or anyone you’ll be in contact with, is in a high-risk group, it’s best to drive. Road travel carries risks too, but it’s much easier to mitigate them from within a smaller space you and your family control. Read BBB’s tips on renting an RV and buying camping gear.
  • Book accommodations that make it easy to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Business Insider recommends speaking with the hotel or host before you book a stay. Find out what precautions and sanitary measures they are taking in between guests. Inquire about shared facilities, such as gyms, pools, spas and restaurants. In many cases, such facilities could be shut down until further notice. Make sure you are comfortable with the precautions any hotel or vacation rental has in place ahead of time.
  • Wear a mask and social distance. To protect yourself and your family, CDC advises travelers to wear a mask, avoid crowded areas and stay at least six feet away from others whenever they are in a public space.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking and camping at state and national parks are a great way to enjoy warmer weather since they don’t involve sharing indoor spaces with others. If you want to stay a few days, book your campsite well in advance. Parks have become a popular pandemic vacation option, and spaces are limited.

For More Information

Get more advice by reading BBB Tip: Adapting Travel Plans for Coronavirus and BBB Tips on COVID-19.

Stay informed about travel restrictions and the spread of the virus by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel page and the U.S. Travel Association.

Copyright 2021 WSAW. All rights reserved.



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Health experts advise COVID testing and precautions for spring break travel


However, Lea said that number is still about 40 percent below what they’re used to seeing outside of a pandemic. Usually they see 35,000 to 40,000 at this time of the year.

With that in mind though, Lea said to prepare for longer wait times at the airport as you make your way to your getaway trip this spring break. It’s recommended to arrive two hours before flight time for domestic flights and three hours for international.

Lea also encourages people to be mindful of the new ways the airport is adapting to COVID-19 health measures and the options travelers have at the airport.

“We have the acrylic barriers, hand sanitizer dispensers and continue robust cleaning. You have options for touchless parking. We have options to order your food online and then you can get it to go or at your gate,” said Lea.

A big part of travel now is also following health protocols and being informed on travel rules and COVID-19 regulations of your travel destination.

“Follow requirements for face coverings, social distancing, personal hygiene. Those are the things that we want people to know about and to take those precautions,” said Lea.

“Really try to distance yourself. Public transportation will require you to wear a mask, the airports will require you to wear masks so consider having a mask and ample masking supplies to wear and social distance,” said Sherry Johnson, a nurse practitioner and infectious disease specialist for St. Luke’s.

“Preparing for travel now is to be flexible. The rules of travel are changing almost every day,” said Gene LaDoucer, a spokesperson for AAA.

LaDoucer said planning ahead and being prepared for the unexpected is a big part of travel too. Especially when planning international trips, working with a qualified travel agent is highly recommended.

“Travel agents will have a handle on what the requirements are and whether you need shots, whether it be a quarantine period, whether there is insurance required,” said LaDoucer.

“Really consider what you’re doing. Now might not be the time really to go to crowded beaches or places where you’re potentially going to infect yourself or bring covid disease back into our community,” said Johnson.

Johnson emphasized the importance of getting tested for COVID-19 before and after vacation.

“If you’re traveling internationally, you are usually required to have a negative covid test before you board the plane so you will need to show proof of that before you enter the airplane,” said Johnson.

The CDC recommends to get tested one to three days before your flight and when you come back from your trip, get tested again three to five days after you return and isolate at home for seven days.

For those needing guidance from a travel agent, you can reach the Duluth AAA office at (218) 723-8055.  They have a link with additional travel advice here.

To learn more about CDC guidance on travel, click here.

To learn about COVID-19 health measures at MSP Airport, click here.



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