Bay Area experts share how they are avoiding getting COVID while traveling this holiday

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Saturday, December 18, 2021
Experts share how they're avoiding COVID while holiday traveling
Doctors are sharing the personal choices they are making during the holidays amid omicron variant fears.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For the past two years, doctors have guided and informed us during this pandemic. Now they are sharing the personal choices they are making during the holidays.

When asked about holiday plans, "We are not going to travel," said Dr. Chris Colwell and added, "We do have family members who are older and are at-risk and in part because we want to be particularly safe."

Dr. Colwell is the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of Medicine and Associate Division Chief the Infectious Diseases Division is traveling to Boston to see her parents with her 13 and 11 year old sons.

RELATED: Travelers react to new omicron variant, possibility of new restrictions

She has a strategy ready for airplane ventilation for her youngest son, who she says is not fully vaccinated.

"He has his first dose. So we always put him in the middle and turn his vent on above him because he was the one that couldn't get vaccinated until recently, which is November 4th," said Dr. Gandhi.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, Professor of Medicine and Infectious Disease at UCSF is traveling to New York to see his mom.

"I haven't seen her for a long time. I'm not going to let the fear of omicron disrupt my plans. I'm vaccinated and boosted," said Dr. Chin-Hong.

These three doctors believe you should be safe to travel if you're fully vaccinated, boosted and don't have any preexisting health conditions.

VIDEO: State recommends COVID testing for travelers entering California

More than two weeks since Thanksgiving, we're only beginning to understand how gatherings may have impacted COVID-19 case rates across California.

Early data shows the omicron variant is four times more transmissible than the delta variant, but with vaccination numbers increasing, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong believes, "This might be a little window period. There will be a bunch of spiking occurring after Christmas and that may not go down until the end of January, February."

Dr. Chin-Hong recommends these tips when traveling:

"The ABCDE's of safe tips. A is for awareness. You look at the weather report, you look at what COVID is doing in the place you are visiting. B is for boosters. You want to make sure you get your booster shot. C is for your children. If your children are eligible for vaccines make sure you get them. D is for diagnostic test. E is everything we know so well. Masking if it's crowded, making sure the ventilation is okay."

According to experts, if you are in a room where everyone is vaccinated and boosted, you cut the chance of getting infected by 95 percent.

But Stanford epidemiologist Dr. Jorge Salinas is not convinced this is the best time to travel.

RELATED: Stanford doctor urges people to take omicron seriously ahead of holidays

"It transmits so well that it produces explosive outbreaks when it enters a gathering, it can affect everybody at the gathering," said Dr. Salinas.

In Dr. Colwell's case, he's also getting his two sons coming from college tested, despite them being fully vaccinated, which is something these three doctors recommend when seeing elderly family members

"Certainly before any family gathering that we have," said Dr. Cowell.