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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

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How to Travel and Visit Family during a Pandemic: Physical Health Edition

By Dmitri 

Hello again my dear readers, 

How these crazy times just keep getting crazier. It’s felt like a long time since we last spoke. I took a ‘vacation’ during late June, and I’d like to offer you all a few fair words of advice if you or a loved one is planning on doing the same any time soon. 

Although we’re still experiencing the effects of the pandemic, sometimes visiting family can take precedent. That’s what happened to my partner and I about a month ago; with my mom and both his parents/their families all living in Michigan, everyone wanted to see us. So we said ‘why not! Travel can’t be that bad right?’. Well, now we’ve lived it, and the least we can do is recount the experience, what we did and what we wish we did better. 

Before I get this list started I’d like to clarify these tips are based on my own experience. Life is often complicated and messy, so please just ultimately try to listen to the CDC, and stay as safe as possible.

1. Have a good quality disposable mask for your flight. My partner and I were fortunate enough to get 2 pairs of N95 masks for the flight out and back. From our experience flying was probably one of the riskiest parts of our travel. The two airlines we took have ultimately decided they’d prefer to pack people into a smaller number of flights as opposed to keeping distance. Sharing a closed amount of air with 50+ strangers isn’t a walk in the park these days so try to take extra preventative measures when flying. 

  1. Allocate your time so you see as few people as possible day by day. Since my partner’s parents are separated, we had to figure out a way to juggle going between three different households with as little cross-contamination as possible. For us, that meant highlighting which string of 3-4 days we would spend where.
  1. Be sure to pack hand sanitizer, and at least 2 reusable masks. This one’s pretty self-explanatory but it was easy to forget to sanitize after coming back from the grocery store or spending time with someone.
  1. Be aware of the web of people you’re seeing. Every single adult we interacted with said to us, “Oh, well you’ll be safe around me. I’ve only been seeing two or three neighbors/friends/family members.” They all said this without the realization that we’ve been seeing numerous adults who have all been saying that, let alone considering who their neighbors might have been seeing. I interacted closely with my sister and brother in law. She works at a hospital and he works at a grocery store. They’re both essential workers who come into contact with dozens of people every day. That’s great for them but it was nerve-wracking to me to see them and then somehow also end up hugging my partner’s grandparents that same day.
  1. This leads me to my final point, try your hardest to keep your own morals straight. These are crazy times and a lot of normally reasonable adults aren’t acting safely. I can’t even begin to describe the anger I felt towards my own mother who’s ‘sick of wearing a mask’. Well, sometimes the health and life of others need to be held above one’s own comfort. If you at any point on your vacation come down with a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting, please try to limit contact as much as possible and get tested if you have the means. Your family might really want to see you, but it’s not worth risking their or your own health.

With those few words of advice and anecdotes, I hope you understand why I’ve referred to my vacation in quotation marks. I loved seeing old sights and familiar faces, eating my mom’s cooking again, but overall that trip was a stress-inducing nightmare. Next time I’d like to delve deeper into the mental health side of this topic as well. 

But for now, my readers, stay safe and stay healthy, 

~Dmitri