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10 ways to avoid Covid-19 during your holiday road trip

November 18, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Thanksgiving holiday traffic travels on I- 70 in Genesee, Colorado on November 27, 2019. - - A pair of storms packing heavy snow and hurricane-force winds left tens of thousands without power in the United States on November 27, 2019, and wreaked havoc for Americans traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. (Photo by Jason Connolly / AFP) (Photo by JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images)

Many health and government officials are urging Americans to stay home for the holidays, but if you are planning a road trip, these tips will help protect you and your family from Covid-19 along the way.

But if you must travel, and some 48 million Americans are expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving this year, here are 10 tips to protect you and your family from Covid-19 along the way.

To be sure you're not sick and taking the virus along with you to your loved ones, quarantine with your family or traveling companions for two weeks -- that's the typical amount of time it takes for the virus to replicate and subside, even if you have no symptoms.

"The more cases at your destination, the more likely you are to get infected during travel and spread the virus to others when you return," the CDC says.

For any road trip, pandemic or not, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends prepping a car emergency kit that includes jumper cables, flares or reflective triangle, an ice scraper, blankets, maps and cat litter or sand in case you need something for better tire traction.

Prep a first-aid kit for the humans in the car, too, along with plenty of water and healthy snacks, as well as extra masks for travelers older than 2.

"Making stops along the way for gas, food or bathroom breaks can put you and your traveling companions in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces," warns the CDC.

Always wear a mask when you leave your car, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics, and carry sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer to wipe down door handles and knobs and toilets.

After using the restroom, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (the amount of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice), open the bathroom door with a hand towel, and use hand sanitizer before touching your car keys or door handles after leaving the facilities.

Traveling in a car is obviously "a very tight, enclosed space," said Dr. Henry Wu, an associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

In cases where that's unavoidable, everyone in the car should be masked.

When it comes to reducing the risk of contracting Covid-19 while eating on the road, it's always going to be safer eating outside, where the virus can dissipate into the open air, experts say.

The partitions and six-foot spacing installed in many indoor restaurants isn't enough protection, said Linsey Marr, the co-author of a paper on airborne transmission of Covid-19 via very small droplets called aerosols that can float for hours.

"Don't rely on a negative test on Tuesday before Thanksgiving and think that clears you," said pediatrician Dr. David Rubin, who directs PolicyLab, a research and public policy center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that's tracking Covid-19 cases in communities across the country.

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