Should she stay or should she go now?
March 7, 2020 5:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm in a medium-distance relationship, flying to and from San Jose and Santa Ana/Orange County every other weekend. My partner has tickets to fly up here next weekend. How do we figure out if/when to cancel due to public health concerns? If we cancel, how do we figure out when it's safe to fly again?

The guidance from the local health department so far seems to be "practice exceptional personal hygiene/hand-washing, and avoid close contact with others if you can." We have not been explicitly told to avoid airports/airplanes, but that's pretty close-contact with lots of unfamiliar people.

My partner is getting much more "oh, things are just fine" guidance down in Santa Ana/Tustin, at this point.

I don't want to be the Travel Grinch, but I'd also like to avoid us getting the virus (we're both mid-30s and relatively healthy, but she has frequent contact with older parents).

We're flying on Southwest, so we should be able to cancel and re-use the tickets later. We've discussed driving instead of flying, too, but not sure that actually makes anything any better aside from the in-airport/on-plane exposure risk.

I'm the worrier/planner, she's the "let's just do it" kind of person. We talked about it last night, and she's okay with postponing travel if we have to, but I want a reality check on my own worries, if possible. Ideally I'd love to hear "Hey, you, you're unreasonably paranoid, quit worrying and have your gf come hug you." Not sure about that one though.
posted by Alterscape to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
Answers here are going to be pretty subjective, because really, nobody knows. If it is going to worry you enough to ruin the weekend, then cancel. But my inclination at this stage is to agree with your partner: travel, but with caution and precautions. Airports and airlines are already stepping up sanitation efforts, combine that with your own best practices and your risk will be minimal. As to when to cancel and when to resume, you're going to have to take that a week at a time.
posted by beagle at 6:54 AM on March 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

Assuming driving means one person drives their own car, that seems way less risky to me than spending time in two airports and on a plane. If you do that and then hole up at home for the duration of the visit, I'm not sure how it's much of a risk beyond you each being exposed to whatever germs the one other person has.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:23 AM on March 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

Agree with nobody knows anything at this stage. We're in mostly uncharted territory. I would say that you have two concerns: one is contracting and spreading COVID. The other is that she travels and there's a quarantine or flights are canceled and she's unable to get back.

FWIW I am closer to paranoid than "just do it" on the spectrum much of the time.

Does she have to have frequent contact with her parents? There seems to be a large window of possibly infectious without showing symptoms I'd be concerned about.
posted by jzb at 7:24 AM on March 7, 2020

I'd keep traveling if it were me. The transit through the airplane presents an extra risk of exposure, but otherwise I don't think being in San Jose or Orange County is going to make a huge difference. Weirdly in my own risk calculus I'm much more worried about inconvenience than my health. But if something intensely weird happened and, say, all intercity travel were banned in California it wouldn't be the end of the world to spend more time together, right? And in many scenarios (say, all airports closed) it's still driving distance.

That's just my read on it though, I'm not a health professional.
posted by Nelson at 9:10 AM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

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