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Risks of road trips during the pandemic: Tips on staying safe

Dr. Ali Hassoun is an Infectious Disease Specialist. He tells us, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to mix with other groups and be in the same car.”

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — If you plan on traveling for the holidays this year, you’re probably aware of some of the risks that come along with getting on a flight during the pandemic. But, what if you decide to take a road trip? You could be facing some risks as well.

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During the pandemic, most people might turn to taking a road trip rather than flying to their destinations for the holidays. But, we spoke with an expert who says there are some tips you need to keep in mind if you plan on piling into the car this year. 

Dr. Ali Hassoun is an Infectious Disease Specialist affiliated with Huntsville Hospital. He tells us,  “I don’t think it’s a good idea to mix with other groups and be in the same car.” 

Dr. Hassoun says it's safest to avoid mixing household groups when traveling, especially for an extended period of time. But, he knows there’s a high chance people will still do this. He adds, “If you really need to do it, then you can wear masks. But, that wouldn’t decrease the transmission. Because, if you’re on a long road trip, your windows are closed and all that-- there’s a higher chance of transmission if someone infected is in that car.” 

Try to only ride in cars with people who are in your ‘household groups’. But, if you are riding with others, Dr. Hassoun has some tips. He says, “If you really need to get with others, you’re going to have to wear your mask all the time. Probably try to ride with the windows open most of the time. But, because of that close contact, there’s always going to be a high risk.”

Dr. Hassoun says this year, the holidays should look a lot different to avoid any spikes in coronavirus numbers. It could take some time to see the results of any unsafe celebrations. Dr. Hassoun explains, “Usually, for any major event or any major holiday, it’ll take about 10-14 days from that time to see the spike. But, you know, I don’t think we should wait for that because we’re already seeing an increase at the moment. So, we really need to be much more careful as the holiday season comes. How are we planning these holiday gatherings? They need to be much smaller and need to be outdoors.” 

When you do make it to your destination, Dr. Hassoun says you should avoid meeting with even extended family members. But, if you decide to, remember to social distance! And wear a mask! Even though you’re related, you’re still mixing with people from different households. 

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