It’s been nearly three months since the novel coronavirus pandemic shuttered the country and separated families. As states lift stay-at-home orders and businesses re-open, many Americans will want to resume pre-pandemic life—which includes visiting older or immunocompromised family.
It’s understandable that families want to enjoy each other’s company outside of Zoom. And you’re probably wondering if it’s safe to visit older family members or friends.
Without a vaccine, visiting older family and friends remains risky, says K.C. Rondello, M.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Public Health & Emergency Management at Adelphi University.
People over 65 and those with underlying conditions like diabetes, heart or lung disease, are susceptible to having severe complications from COVID-19.
Ultimately, it’s up to individual families to determine if—and when—they want to risk physical visits.
“There will never be a time when some government agency says, ‘Ok, you’re good to go,'” says Dr. Rondello. “There will never be that sort of announcement, so determining when the right time is and pulling the trigger is a question that many people are going to increasingly face.”
We asked Dr. Rondello what you should consider when navigating the risks of visiting an older or immunocompromised family member.
Is it safe to travel to see family?
Flying or taking mass transit may cancel out social distancing measures you’ve already practiced since you could contract COVID-19 from a sick passenger. Dr. Rondello says it’s less risky to make local trips where you can drive directly to a relative’s house without stopping. If you stop for gas, try to maintain social distancing and use hand sanitizer when handling the pump.
If you need to fly, consider taking an extended trip. Dr. Rondello recommends spending a full 14 days in quarantine before visiting an older family member.
“After that quarantine period, then you can have your visit in a safe manner,” he says.
What measures should you take before visiting family?
You want to take certain precautions that lower the risk of your family and friends getting sick. Here’s how, according to Dr. Rondello:
Visiting a vulnerable family or friend can be stressful—don’t let that stop you from enjoying the moment.
“You’ve made the decision to go, so get the greatest value on that visit that you can,” says Dr. Rondello.
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