SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Local health officials are urging Siouxlanders to rethink their holiday travel plans this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you don’t feel well, don’t travel,” Tracy Larson, MercyOne Siouxland Chief Nursing Officer, said.
With combined COVID-19 and flu season concerns, elderly relatives and those with preexisting conditions are the most vulnerable.
“You need to be quarantining if you’re going to go visit them. You need to be limiting your contact out in your own community. Make sure you’re always wearing a mask,” Dr. Michael Kafka, UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s Medical Director for Quality and Safety, said.
Most hospitals, clinics, and urgent care centers are reserving COVID-19 tests for those with symptoms, making things difficult for folks who are hoping to test preemptively, and are asymptomatic.
“Current guidance is not to test without symptoms, and a lot of it is related to having those tests available to those who are really sick,” Larson said.
However, Dr. Kafka says there are options available to travelers.
“Local pharmacies do have connections with a reference laboratory. They do asymptomatic testing, [and] if you go to the website, or call in, they can make an appointment for you,” Dr. Kafka said.
No matter where you travel, health officials recommend attending smaller gatherings with immediate family members only.
“You can invite others in, too, via Zoom, via Webex–there’s an opportunity to keep things on a smaller scale,” Larson said.
If you do plan to attend a larger gathering, make sure you’re wearing a mask except when eating, and stay socially distanced.
“Maybe one person serves the food so a lot of people don’t have to serve the food, and then keep the sound down, and the music, and what-not, so that people don’t have to shout,” Dr. Kafka said.
“It’s the holidays–people want to hug, they want to kiss the babies. This is not the year to do that,” Larson said.