Holiday Travel: Navigating a Pandemic
Since the pandemic began in the United States and Canada in March 2020, many states have implemented travel restrictions that are difficult to keep straight. The coronavirus case rates can determine what steps you may need to take if you do plan to cross state lines. Now that we are several months into the pandemic, there are a few user friendly guides that do track the most up to date testing and quarantine rules in North America, so you don't have to rely on your own Google searches.
Here are a few tools that I would recommend to use if you plan on traveling over the coming holiday season.
COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
This map shows the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location. The map shows county level data and the risk level is between 0-100% that at least 1 person will be Covid-19 positive at the event, given the size of the event. For example, we normally host at least 15 people from two states at our home for Thanksgiving. According to the map, there is at least a 47% chance that if we had that many people at our home, that one person would be positive. Here is an article from CNN about a family where 15 members have tested positive after a family gathering on November 1. This year, we've decided not to risk it. We have decided to only have our immediate family for Thanksgiving.
AAA Covid-19 MaP & Road Trip Planner
The travel organization AAA doesn't require you to have a membership to use it's online Covid-19 travel map. This map details the latest state, county, and city level travel restrictions and protocols. The map will show which states have quarantine or testing requirements, mask laws, or stay at home orders. If you click on a state or county, the map will bring up more detail such as if masks are required, if restaurants are open for dine in seating, if rest stops are open, etc. The map will also highlight checkpoints on the roads if you are passing through tribal lands in New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Montana, and Washington State. There are additional road restrictions for people traveling to New York City.
For table view of every states restrictions, the government relations company Multistate has created this dashboard. You can scroll down the alphabetical list to see the exact details of the existing travel rules, gathering restrictions, etc. Links to any local health orders, mask mandates, and school closures are also included.
Fortunately, there are several organizations that have stepped up to provide good details for people that travel. This information will be useful for anyone in the US and Canada that plans to travel this holiday season. If you choose to travel, stay safe. I've been reviewing this data as we plan a post Thanksgiving trip to South Carolina from Michigan. Other than getting gas, we won't be around anyone. Instead of our usual flying to the south, we have opted to drive and instead of using hotels, we are taking our teardrop. While we are not traveling the most direct route to our destination, we will be self contained, stopping to spend the night in National Forests along the way. If you do choose to travel, stay safe and follow the safety protocols of where you're going.