While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia, with spring break upon us, it is important to review what we know about the virus and how it may impact travel or vacation plans.
Everyone has to make a personal decision about their activities, but limiting non-essential travel right now is a prudent thing to do.
This is especially true for international travel, travel to hot spots in the United States and on cruise ships.
We are strongly encouraging students, faculty and staff to disclose spring break travel plans so that we can help notify them where COVID-19 blossoms and provide guidance on how to respond.
The Centers for Disease Control has issued a travel advisory for cruise ships. Because of the enclosed space and number of passengers, those at risk for serious complications from COVID-19, including older people (hospitalization and death rates start to increase in people over 60 years old) and those with chronic medical illness, should not travel on cruise ships for now. Currently, the best advice is to avoid cruise ships.
Plane travel is safer than cruise ships, because of the way air recirculates and is filtered, but being in airports and around large numbers of people can increase risk. Avoiding non-essential leisure travel and crowds, for now, is prudent.
For domestic travel, WVU and other universities have banned work-related and non-essential travel within the U.S. and internationally. In the U.S, there are hot spots of COVID-19 and more emerging. Extra care should be taken for traveling at this time. Some of these hot spots are within New York, California, and Washington state. If traveling this spring, please check ahead at the CDC website to gain up-to-date travel guidance.
As we have previously shared, the key to avoiding the virus is staying away from people that are sick (six feet appears to be a safe distance), wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap or hand sanitizer, and avoid putting your hands to your face.
We all still have many responsibilities in our lives and if you need to travel, travel safely.
There is no need to panic, but it is smart to be informed and prepared.
Clay Marsh, MD
Vice President and Executive Dean
WVU Health Sciences