This past month my husband, our six year old daughter and I flew to Florida for a vacation from the cold Michigan winter and to enjoy some two-on-one time with our older child (our twelve month old stayed behind with grandparents).  Our “requirements” for deciding where to vacation were that we wanted to go somewhere warm/sunny and also somewhere we could take her snorkeling.  This lead us to look at Mexico, international islands and southern Florida.  Amidst our “last minute” planning, a new order by the CDC went into effect making our decision quite easy.

As of January 26, 2021, an Order by the CDC went into effect placing a requirement for proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or recovery from COVID-19 for all airline passengers arriving into the United States.  The CDC states, “All air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country must get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to present the negative result or letter of recovery before boarding the flight.” This new order, in effect indefinitely, has made it difficult for most Americans to travel outside of the country.  For travelers, if the required test’s result is positive, the traveler would need to quarantine for 14 days and then obtain a “Letter of Recovery” to return.  This brings up quite a few risks that the majority are unable to face.  It’s obvious that no one wants to get the virus, especially while out of the country, but the unknown of being stuck in a foreign country to receive health care, if needed, is a little worrisome. Also for those with children and/or pets, it was most likely already a task to align child (or pet) care for the duration of their time away, let alone for an additional two weeks after.  Aside from who will care for them, the time away was probably the most the parent felt comfortable leaving their child but to add an additional 14 days is unthinkable for many parents. Our five-day vacation was the longest any of us were OK with leaving the baby of our family behind and I couldn’t imagine adding another 14+ days to that.

What if one or two of us were to test positive and the other(s) negative?  The one or two that tested negative would have to stay behind to isolate for 10 days due to exposure and still miss work or school.  What about those with asymptomatic positive tests? I’ve seen sarcastic comments on social media mentioning that it “wouldn’t be so bad to have to quarantine at an all-inclusive resort” if there were minimal to no symptoms.  That is, if you’re not quarantined to the room.  Many resorts are actually covering the cost of a required quarantine return back to their resort after a positive Covid test. Depending on the resort, some are doing all expenses (room and board) covered, others covering the cost of the room and some might vary in the number of days covered by the resort anywhere from 7 to 14.

There is one exception to the required test upon entering the United States. We know that those that have had Covid-19, quarantined 14 days and recovered may still show a positive test result days to months later due to antibodies.  The CDC’s site states, “CDC does not recommend getting tested again in the three months after a positive viral test, as long as you do not have symptoms of COVID-19. If you have had a positive viral test in the past 3 months, and you have met the criteria to end isolation, you may travel instead with documentation of your positive viral test results and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that states you have been cleared for travel. The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.” They continue, “A letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that clears you to end isolation, e.g., to return to work or school, can be used to show you are cleared to travel, even if travel isn’t specifically mentioned in the letter.”  With this being said, if a couple tested positive, quarantined and recovered within the past three months, they are “allowed” to travel outside of the United States together and return without being required to take a Covid test and test negative upon returning.

While many are still hesitant and concerned to travel because of the virus itself, the complications and uncertainty of the new travel order are causing the remaining to postpone their international travel.  The new travel order has caused those that do want to travel to get creative.  Florida is booming with out-of-state visitors and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii have experienced a significant tourism increase because visitors can still get their “island getaway” feel or fix while staying within the United States.

In Michigan and the colder states (this year it’s not just the northern states experiencing the cold, though!), there seems to be an itch after the New Year until warm weather returns to get away and take in some sunshine. On top of the need for sun and warmth, many are feeling cooped up from being in some sort of quarantine for over a year now.  Spring break is approaching… Are you a spring break traveler?  Colleges, like Butler where my niece attends, have cancelled Spring Break altogether to minimize exposure and have instead made the other breaks, like Christmas/holiday and summer longer. Needless to say, we felt very safe throughout our trip, were able to take in some rest, relaxation and sunshine and returned healthy.  Will you be traveling soon?  If so, I hope you enjoy and stay healthy.  Where are you off to?