Info sources re. transit issues from coronavirus
February 26, 2020 6:20 PM   Subscribe

Predicting transit issues from coronavirus – I'm healthy with no direct concern re. the virus, but I have U.S. / Europe travel coming up that my work and plans depend on. Are there info sources I should follow to predict chances I'll have to cancel those trips?

(I don't mean for this question to be insensitive to people who aren't in good health – my apologies if it reads that way.)

I'm based in Philadelphia. I've got San Diego, upstate NY, and Sweden/Norway travel coming in the next four months.

It wouldn't be a disaster if I got stranded temporarily in any of those places – my question's more re. what info sources I should watch for clues re. whether the trips will have to be canceled entirely.

San Diego's a concern because I'll be there for several weeks (not in the city of SD, in a low-population mountain area nearby). So I'm realizing the situation might change in southern CA for airports – and/or for transit from mountain areas to the airport – across a block that long.
posted by kalapierson to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I’ve heard of any tools or websites that do this, partly because the reporting of diagnosed cases is always going to be behind the actual spread of cases. In China, the only other comparably huge country with coronavirus to the US, even draconian population and media controls could not stop the spread of the virus to every province in a matter of weeks.

If it is any comfort, which it may not be, I think we can be sure that people carrying the virus have been in the US for weeks already. But because the US has a far more robust health system than China and an open media system that is going to report extensively on the first significant cases, we can have more confidence than, say, the people of Hubei that normal sanitation precautions and what we hear from media sources like the CDC or your state’s health department will help us stay safe.

I think you need to consider how willing you are to travel. The options are, it seems:

1) Don’t travel. This is the safest possible option. You would reach out to whoever you are travelling to and seek out whatever other options (digital delivery or meetings, delaying meetings, etc) exist to accomplish your aims. This may be inconvenient but is by far the least stressful for everyone, unless your physical person is required to...do something there?

2) Cancel the long-haul trips and drive to upstate New York in your own vehicle. This exposes you to a slightly higher risk but even if the virus explodes I can’t see road-based interstate travel being limited.

3) Travel but shorten the trips and modify them to meet in places with no access to the public - so meet the client in a back office at their location rather than a café or something.

4) Travel as planned but expect disruption. As a Hong Konger, I fully assume that my planned vacations at Easter and in the summer will be totally upended. I may yet cancel, but the airlines may simply cancel for me and give me a refund since empty planes don’t make money. I would assume that the Sweden/Norway trip will be disrupted, San Diego less so. Get good travel insurance and connect with your company’s HR on what freedom you have to (say) stay an extra day or two, or whether you’d be paid during your 14-day home quarantine before returning to work.

Good luck! This is the biggest event of the year globally and we all need to expect some uncertainty.
posted by mdonley at 7:57 PM on February 26


One addition - I missed that San Diego is a multi-week trip. In your situation I would drive out there, stay alone in a standalone building like a rented house and cook for yourself - reducing your exposure to other people is going to be the number-one way people stay healthy.
posted by mdonley at 8:00 PM on February 26


You can see the most recent COVID-19-related travel advisories on the CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel.

So far this week, the CDC has raised Iran, Italy and Japan to Level 2 Warning Status: Practice Enhanced Precautions.
The CDC’s travel advisories page is updated regularly so it's the place to look for travel alerts wrt outbreaks.
posted by waving at 6:52 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Thank you all! I'm not concerned with catching the virus – or more accurately, I think it's likely I will at some point – just trying to predict whether I'll get to take the trips themselves, which are so valuable for me. (Yes, physically being there is the point in each case and there's not a possible remote realization of the work.)
posted by kalapierson at 12:49 AM on February 28


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