To stay or to go.

That’s the big question facing most Americans, some of whom might sense that the four walls around them have all but closed in as they’ve remained homebound during the coronavirus pandemic.

With the reopening of the economy and more people hosting indoor and outdoor gatherings, many have an itch to hit the road for a summer vacation.

However, some experts warn that staying home might prove a smarter decision.

“I’m following the public health guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] to stay at home and limit nonessential travel in order to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Regina Benjamin, a former U.S. surgeon general and founder and CEO of Gulf States Health Policy Center, told CNN.

“The same applies for nonessential international travel,” added Benjamin, who lives in Alabama. “I am going to spend time enjoying some of the local treasures on the beautiful Gulf Coast of Alabama.”

Americans are expected to take more than 700 million trips between July and September, which is about 120 million fewer than those taken a year ago.

Analysts at AAA projects that bus, rail and cruise ship travel will experience a decrease of roughly 86 percent. Air travel is expected to decline 74 percent below 2019 levels, according to AAA.

However, the forecast for road trips in automobiles sits at 3 percent.

“Americans will get out and explore this summer though they’re taking a ‘wait and see approach’ when it comes to booking and are likely to book more long weekend getaways than extended vacations,” Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, said in a news release.

“When they do venture out, the greatest share of travelers — 683 million — will take to the road to satisfy their wanderlust,” Twidale suggested.

Dr. Jay C. Butler, CDC deputy director for infectious diseases, said that travel increases the chances of getting and spreading COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, so planning will be important for those who hit the road.

“This time around, people will have to anticipate who they are going to come into contact with and who they are going to visit,” Butler told CNN. “They’ll also have to consider factors such as preparing while on the road; if they are traveling by car, train, or plane, and looking at the local conditions of their final destination.”

If you do plan to travel, the CDC recommends regularly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after touching surfaces frequently touched by others, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and before touching your face or eating.

If soap and water are not available, bring and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Avoid close contact with others.
• Keep 6 feet of physical distance from others.
• Wear a cloth face coverings in public.
• Cover coughs and sneezes.
• Pick up food at drive-throughs, curbside restaurant service, or stores.

Still, if you must travel, Benjamin said upon return everyone should self-quarantine for 14 days after your trip if possible: stay home and monitor your health.

“Afterwards, practice the 3 W’s — wear a mask, wash your hands, watch where you stand, six feet apart,” Benjamin said. “If you experience any symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, contact your health care provider immediately.

“It’s important to note, a hospital is the safest place for you to be if you start showing symptoms of COVID-19 or other conditions, like a heart attack or stroke,” she said. “The American Heart Association recently launched a public education campaign, ‘Don’t Die of Doubt,’ to remind the people that it’s still important to call 911 and go to a hospital if you’re having a medical emergency.”

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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