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I'm an Infectious Disease Doctor and Warn You Not to Go to Disney

You might want to rethink your summer vacation plans.
Mickey Mouse and Nicole Anderson

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., plans to reopen this Saturday—right when the state is experiencing record numbers of coronavirus cases. "The world is changing around us, but we strongly believe that we can open safely and responsibly," Josh D'Amaro, Disney's theme park chairman, told the New York Times. But according to a top infectious disease expert, you might want to think about canceling your summer travel plans.

While Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist and associate professor at the school of medicine, is "tempted" to dissuade you from traveling to other countries—such as South America (Brazil) or Africa (South Africa)—that are experiencing a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and represent current or future epicenters of the global outbreak, he points out that current travel restrictions have likely already canceled those plans for you. 

But there is another popular region of the United States where people are still flocking—despite the rising number of cases. Dr. Ogbuagu is very concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the South—particularly Florida.

High-Level Community Transmission

According to Dr. Ogbuagu, "due to ongoing high-level community transmission driven by multiple factors — including tepid public health responses to the epidemic and adherence to CDC guidelines to prevent spread of COVID-19, high-density residential areas, superimposed on the potential for overwhelmed health systems (less than a quarter of ICU beds remain available already)"—the virus is thriving. 

Even if you booked that trip to Disney World, with "enhanced health and safety measures"—you might want to consider putting it off. 

"I would, therefore, avoid travel to my favorite Disney location this summer," Dr. Ogbuagu tells Eat This, Not That! Health

Wait and See Before Going

Even if you are young and healthy and not at a high risk of infection for COVID-19, you should think about others before you start amusement park hopping. "While the new cases are predominantly young (<44 years of age) and less likely to suffer severe disease or die, they could be human vectors of infection transmitting it to older individuals whom they interact with at home, work, shops etc with negative consequences (in Florida, almost a third of residents are older than 60)," he explains. 

Therefore, it's better to be safe than sorry, when it comes to a Florida vacation. "I would rather watch from a distance as events unfold and it should take the rest of the summer to see if things change and hopefully, in the right direction."

As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
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