Healthcare officials urging extra caution ahead of holiday travel

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Healthcare officials are urging holiday travelers to be more aware and take additional precautions this holiday season. Officials fear if extra steps aren’t taken, the Lowcountry could see a post-holiday spike in new COVID-19 cases.

“Our job this Christmas is to make certain that the Grinch that is SARS COV-2 doesn’t find anyone,” says Dr. Michael Schmidt, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Many are traveling over Christmas to see family for the first time this year. Experts say if not cautious, it creates an opportunity to bring an unwanted guest along with them.

“And that’s just a great opportunity for the virus to find a new host, that’s what we saw after Thanksgiving,” says Dr. Schmidt.

Schmidt says families should coordinate testing before traveling and safety measures ahead of time.

“You can’t trust that everyone coming into your loved one’s home will be similarly effective at protecting others… And you never know who could be asymptomatic and giving you that unsuspecting gift,” says Dr. Schmidt.

For those traveling by plane, Dr. Schmidt says travelers should wear a mask, distance when possible, and avoid touching their face.

“Don’t eat anything on the plane, you know because your hands are really the window of how the virus could effectively, inadvertently come in,” says Dr. Schmidt.

Health officials urge getting a COVID-19 test five days after returning from holiday travel as well. Airport officials at the Charleston International Airport are anticipating a steady bump in passengers as Christmas approaches.

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