Should we go stay in our Air BnB and hike in NY next week?
November 19, 2020 4:22 PM   Subscribe

I can't say that we have made up our minds, or that we are either looking for confirmation or a strong argument against this idea. But I put it to the hive mind to discuss and help me think through this even more. And here are the details!

We booked an Air BnB over the summer for our annual Thanksgiving runaway hiking trip. The price was better than in our own state and put us right in the middle of the mountains, Fleischmanns, NY. It is a single-family barn on some property, and we will not be in contact with other people on the property (I think the owners of the land, who will not share a building with us or ever be in contact with us at all, might be there but not close).

We are driving from central NC to there, and plan to take as many groceries and liquors and wines with us as possible. We might have to go to a supermarket to stock up on a few things, but we will not be going to restaurants and bars, no matter what. Beyond that, our only exposure to other people will be on hiking trails. We have a dog, so we will have to stop for breaks, and we are humans so we have to stop for human needs. We plan on bringing as many snacks and sandwiches as we can for the ride so we don't have to stop when we don't have to.

We both got COVID tests today because of the quarantine travel rules, and we hope to get the results by Saturday (we leave Sunday). Neither of us is especially at risk of exposure; I teach from home and she is only at her store 2-3 days a week, and they have strict precautions.

Is this stupid? Are we being safe enough? Should we cancel and lose the payment for the Air BnB? We can afford to lose the money, but it sucks. What are you general ideas?
posted by Snowishberlin to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total)
That sounds pretty responsible to me.

The testing is great; the activity is very safe (exposure to others on trails will be brief and in the outdoors); and you'll generate minimal extra contact with other people during your travels thanks to your packing and your decision to stay at a whole unit airbnb.

I think you should enjoy yourselves.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 4:30 PM on November 19 [5 favorites]

This isn't a great time to travel period, not just because of Thanksgiving traffic but because the pandemic is literally at the worst it has ever been.

I don't think your travel plans substantially increase your risk of COVID, but what if you get in a car accident or hurt yourself hiking? All the advice I've seen would indicate that this is a really shitty time to end up in an emergency room, because all the beds everywhere are full.

It sucks. I wouldn't do it though.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:31 PM on November 19 [16 favorites]

What you are describing does not follow current NYS travel guidelines. “A few people on the trail” and “might go to the supermarket” is not quarantining.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:31 PM on November 19 [19 favorites]

False negatives are not uncommon, so you can't count on the test. The only way to do this safely is to hard quarantine for 14 or more days (going to the store does not count) and to cross all your fingers/pray to your deities/hope that you don't get in an accident or into a situation where you have to interact with other humans. The drive you are suggesting is a really long one, I know because I've made it many times, and you will likely be in contact with people at rest stops etc. The pandemic is currently raging throughout this country, so odds are not insignificant that you'll come into contact with someone on your ride up who has it. The area where you're going is more remote and might not have hospital beds for visitors if the unthinkable does happen. Their hospital should be as open as possible for residents, not for visitors.

I get it. I haven't seen another human being in 256 days. This whole thing is really, really hard. Is there something that you can do at home instead? A hike you can take there that's within driving distance where you won't have to stop at rest stops? Why risk putting others at risk during a pandemic so that you can relax? Not snarky; this is a genuine question to ask yourself. Everyone should be making sacrifices in the rotten situation we are in. I would really implore you to do the right thing and not the comfortable or fun thing here.
posted by k8lin at 4:43 PM on November 19 [7 favorites]

What you are describing does not follow current NYS travel guidelines. “A few people on the trail” and “might go to the supermarket” is not quarantining.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:31 PM on November 19

Oh WTF!!? I would swear the CDC only had that we had to have tests 3 days before and then 2 days after arriving (we would probably to to Duane Reade or whatever the Walgreens equivalent is up there) to be okay. DRAT. Hmmm.
posted by Snowishberlin at 4:50 PM on November 19

Please bear in mind that hunting season begins this weekend and goes through December 13. So if you do end up in the Catskills area, please make sure you all wear fluoro orange (especially your dog).
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:51 PM on November 19 [4 favorites]

The initial hiccup I'm seeing is: post-test, did you both come home and stay home? Your results from that test won't mean much if your partner had to go to a shift at her store any time between taking the test and you leaving on this trip, or if either of you have to physically go into a store between the test-taking and your arrival at your destination.

Like tchemgrrl pointed out, your first COVID test in NC coming back negative is the initial step. Assuming those come back negative, you then drive to NY (Sun), making the minimum number of stops for pee breaks possible, and quarantine for three days in NY (Sun, Mon, Tue), staying on the farm. You then obtain a second test in NY on Wed - the day before Thanksgiving? Where are you planning to get your second test? - and then return to quarantine until you get your second set of negative test results, which may be who knows how many days later. Will it be before you have to turn around and drive back home? Does that let you squeeze in even one of the short hikes you're envisioning? I am assuming your reservation is for a full week, but that doesn't seem long enough to accommodate anything you'd actually *want* to do up there.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 4:52 PM on November 19 [5 favorites]

Sounds more than reasonable and I would do it. Wear your mask whenever you are near anyone on the trails.
posted by AugustWest at 5:02 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

Ok, I can't find what I thought were restrictions that we just had to have a useless negative result 3 days before (a la Pandora Kouti) and then one while we were there.

Thank you all for your answers and input! We are canceling the trip because we are dumb and can't internet. Sigh. But it is for the safest, and we wish you all the best.
posted by Snowishberlin at 5:06 PM on November 19 [37 favorites]

Yeah, NYS is imposing a 14 day quarantine for travelers. Not that we can really enforce it, so we’re relying on individuals (yikes) to do the right thing. And —looking across the country — rural areas are getting hit hard. (As many of we NY State-ers kinda expected, but it doesn’t make it less heartbreaking.)

Fleishmanns is gorgeous and totally worth the trip. If you were already nearish the town, or MAYBE in the state, I’d likely say go for it, with MAJOR precautions! But, even though our “numbers” are comparatively low, I’m really worried for our rural hospitals. Including those in my area.

I’m mostly sure your trip wouldn’t cause a literal hotspot, but testing is FAR from foolproof, so we just can’t 100% know.

I don’t want to be a bummer, but I would stay put. :(
posted by functionequalsform at 5:07 PM on November 19

Please don't do this. I'm begging as a person who has only been to the grocery store in 8 months, with friends who are doing the same, many more of whom have gotten sick in the past 10 days than the remainder of the pandemic: please stop moving around for anything other than a dire situation. Please stop coming to our grocery stores, the only place we go, in the places where we live.

If everyone would just stay close to home until we have some non-hostile entities in charge of managing this pandemic, that's really the most amazing thing anybody can do right now.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:09 PM on November 19 [22 favorites]

I know it sucks but thank you for doing the right and good thing.
posted by unannihilated at 5:10 PM on November 19 [11 favorites]

I’m not saying whether or not you should do it, but this part is right under quarantine on the linked guidelines:

For travelers who were out-of-state for more than 24 hours:
Travelers must obtain a test within three days of departure, prior to arrival in New York.
The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
On day 4 of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain another COVID test. If both tests comes back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.
posted by raccoon409 at 5:36 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]

The NYS rules change is relatively recent—I work for a NYS university where the students are in the process of leaving until February, and have gotten a ton of emails about it. I’m sorry you have to cancel the trip!
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:03 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

Go. Your plan is responsible and memorable time together as a family is important. Have fun!
posted by summerstorm at 6:03 PM on November 19 [2 favorites]

We missed our shot. The various state level quarantines are security theater; the virus is raging out of control across the country and there is no reason to think that 'being from out of state' increases anyone's risk at this point, no matter what state you're out of. As a recent letter from the Minnesota Department of Health regarding a case in our apartment building states, "The risk of exposure for other individuals present in the building on that date is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community."

The virus is in "the general community" and you will pass near to several someones who have COVID on this trip. You should assume that everyone that you see has COVID. The transmission risk is low as long as you limit your length of contact. There is good reason to think that this trip is less dangerous for you and for others than being "only at her store 2-3 days a week". Limit human contact as much as possible, wear your mask, make your indoor public visits short and infrequent. None of this is different from what you would do at home. Enjoy the outdoors while you can, it's going to be a long fucking winter.
posted by Kwine at 9:10 PM on November 19 [5 favorites]

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