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Thinking Of Traveling For Thanksgiving? Amid New COVID Surge, Infectious Disease Expert Says 'Be Prepared For The Worst Possible Scenario'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Many of us are still on the fence about jetting off to celebrate Thanksgiving at grandma's house.

The bottom line is the safest thing to do is stay at home, but if you are making a Thanksgiving trip, CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas finds out what precautions to take before you hop on a flight.

"Be prepared for the worst possible scenario, which is that you're sitting next to someone who's got COVID and takes off their mask," said Dr. Emily landon, an infectious disease expert at University of Chicago Medicine.

Landon said, if you're planning to fly during the holidays, caution is key.

"That means you want to wear the best mask that you have," she said.

On top of that, a face shield, goggles, or at the very least glasses should also be worn to protect your eyes.

"If someone near you has COVID, and they decided to take their mask off in order to drink a soda or eat those peanuts, then your eyes will be an entry point for them," Landon said.

She also said you shouldn't be too trusting of an airline's disinfecting processes. Sometimes it's best to take matters into your own hands and wipe down your seat, armrests, and tray table with disinfectant wipes yourself.

Landon also said risk level depends on where you're traveling. Shorter, domestic flights are better; because masks tend to come off on longer, international flights.

"That's much more common now on long-haul flights, when people will take them off at night or for parts of the flight," she said.

There are now new apps, like NOVID from Georgia Tech, which break down your risk of exposure in different destinations.

According to the map, if you attend a 15-person event in Cook County, you have a 48% chance of being exposed to COVID, but a celebration with the same amount of people in Fresno has only a 14% chance of exposure.

However, Landon said these apps shouldn't be a deciding factor.

"Those apps are telling you the average person, and so there are some people that are going to be double that risk, and some people that are going to be half that risk," she said.

For instance, visiting a relative with a 10-person bubble is way riskier than celebrating with a relative who's only seen the people inside their household.

Landon said, without exercising proper precautions, cases could spike even more.

"I'm really scared about what we're going to see two to four weeks after thanksgiving. I think it could be really dangerous," she said.

Before you go up, up and away in a plane, remember the curve is also going up.

If you do plan to visit relatives during Thanksgiving, some apps show steps you can take to reduce your risk, like opening windows or limiting how long your visit lasts.


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