The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is encouraging Wisconsinites planning or returning from spring break travels to take simple public health precautions to prevent illness.
Although overall COVID-19 case numbers are declining, students and other travelers can still become ill or spread COVID-19 to others. Getting tested after returning home if you’ve been to a location with high COVID-19 community levels and continuing to layer prevention strategies are essential steps for staying safe, protecting the most vulnerable in our families and communities, and reducing strain on health care systems in communities across the country.
“Traveling increases your risk of being exposed to COVID-19,” said DHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard.
“People who have received their primary vaccine series and their booster dose are considered up to date and are less likely to get sick, experience severe illness, or be hospitalized due to COVID-19, compared to those who are unvaccinated," Westergaard added.
"Your booster dose is key to making sure your COVID-19 vaccine continues to offer the best protection. Also, knowing the COVID-19 Community Level of the places you visited or plan to visit can also help you decide which prevention strategies to take, like wearing a mask or getting tested," Westergaard said. "It is important to remember that you can continue to wear a well-fitting mask or respirator at any time if it makes you or others feel safer.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DHS recommend Wisconsinites delay their travel plans if they are not up to date(link is external) with COVID-19 vaccines. Everyone age 12 and older is eligible to get a booster dose(link is external). Additionally, Wisconsinites should not travel if they:
• Have symptoms of COVID-19.
• Have tested positive for COVID-19 and have not completed their isolation period.
• Have recently been exposed to COVID-19 and are recommended to quarantine.
• Are awaiting COVID-19 test results.
For those yet to take their spring break trip, mask wearing is still required on all forms of U.S. public transportation. Wisconsinites are also responsible for knowing and complying with all airline and destination requirements.
Traveling to areas with low COVID-19 Community Levels and planning outdoor or physically distanced activities can further reduce the risk of getting sick.
DHS also encourages all Wisconsinites to get tested before traveling and to get tested and isolate if they’ve returned home and have developed symptoms. Those who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines should visit the CDC website for additional travel recommendations regarding testing and quarantine.
COVID-19 self-tests are available for free from the federal government and at pharmacies and retailers around Wisconsin and can be an important addition to carry-on bags. In addition, testing is available at many sites around Wisconsin. Using the public health tools that are available to us will continue to help keep Wisconsinites safe at home and on the road.