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7 Ways to Avoid COVID Now, According to the CDC

Ask yourself these simple questions before traveling this week.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

With Christmas behind us, New Year's Eve approaches—and with it, one more chance to gather with friends and family. The CDC warns: That's one more chance to catch—or spread—COVID-19. Indoor gatherings are leading to outbreaks, and may cause what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, calls "a surge upon a surge." "If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes,' you should consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travel," advises the CDC. Read on for the questions—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus


Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?



Consider the age and/or underlying conditions. "For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s," says the CDC. "Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older." But remember: anyone can get COVID at any age.


Are cases high or increasing in your community or at your destination? 

Ambulance and firefighter trucks block the street in downtown

"The more cases in your community or at your destination, the more likely you are to get and spread COVID-19 as a result of your door-to-door travel," says the CDC. "Check CDC's COVID Data Tracker for the latest number of cases in each area."


Are hospitals in your community or at your destination overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19? 

Emergency medic and doctor moving patient to emergency room in hospital

For example, hospitals in California are overflowing. "To find out, check state and local public health department websites," says the CDC.

RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors


Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? 

female wearing protective mask while standing opposite the worker of airport and checking temperature

Many states are forcing those crossing state lines to quarantine upon arrival, with a penalty of a fine. "Check state and local requirements before you travel," says the CDC.


During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don't live with?

Two young female friends chatting over coffee in cafe.

The CDC defines "close contact" as "someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated."


Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or airplane, which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?

Students and travelers using public transport for commuting

"People at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, should consider their level of risk before deciding to go out and ensure they are taking steps to protect themselves," says the CDC. "Consider avoiding activities where taking protective measures may be difficult, such as activities where social distancing can't be maintained. Everyone should take steps to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 to protect themselves, their communities, and people who are at increased risk of severe illness."


Are you traveling with people who don't live with you?

Middle aged couple at an airport during coronavirus pandemic.

This is how COVID-19 spread can happen. It isn't about how many people you're hanging out with but where they came from. "Ten may even be a bit too much," Fauci has said. "It's not only the number, it's the people who might be coming in from out of town. You want to make sure you don't have people who just got off a plane or a train. That's even more risky than the absolute number."

RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci


How to Stay Safe This Holiday Season

girl wear medical face mask on sunny city street

Again, "If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes,' you should consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travel." And follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more
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