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Yes, Summer Road Trips Can Contribute To The Spread Of COVID-19
While flights may be halted this summer, road trips aren’t. In fact, Americans have been embarking on more road trips than before the COVID-19 pandemic. While it may seem like a safe travel alternative, health experts are scared that road trips may spread the virus.
According to data prepared for the federal government by the Maryland Transportation Institute, there were 32.2 million trips taken by Americans consisting of over 50 miles per trip during the 4th of July holiday week. That number is more than the 31.9 million trips, with over 50 miles per trip in 2019.
The Maryland Transportation Institute put together it’s data by analyzing cell phone locations and tracking how people move about via car, train, and plane.
Aref Darzi, a researcher, tells CNN Travel, “We did a good job during March and April staying home, but it seems that when we reached the Fourth of July, it’s getting back to where it was before the pandemic. We expected to see more travels during the holidays, but getting back to where we were before the pandemic — it was a bit surprising for us.”
Darzi says that the number of road trips is concerning because, “we know that if a person from a region goes to another region has the disease, it may start a new outbreak in a new region.”
The data shows that only about 3 in 10 travelers in hot spots such as Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas didn’t travel during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Professor Luisa Franzini, Ph.D. at the University of Maryland says in an interview that she doesn’t think people are understanding the risks of traveling to a gathering — “even outdoor events like barbecues or a party outdoors — they can still be super spreader events,” she says.
Although traveling by car isn’t as risky as flying or taking a train, it is still risky.
Franzini says, “There is still the risk during the trip when they stop at the gas station to get gas or go to the restaurant. That’s certainly risky. And then once they arrive at their destination, there are risks, too.”
We’ve been going through this pandemic for many months now and while it’s getting exhausting, it’s best to avoid traveling and attending gatherings unless it is absolutely necessary.