We’ve learned lots of pandemic lessons since COVID-19 began
In early spring, pandemic lessons came fast and furious. COVID-19 shut down the world. Airlines mothballed planes and slashed scheduled flights. The cruise industry shut down. Many hotels closed. Train schedules were dramatically cut back.
We know that COVID-19 is transmitted through the air, that masks stop it. It infects people everywhere. Governments failed travelers and that misinformation about COVID kills. Today, we know more pandemic lessons that will make dealing with the next spike more successful.
Six months into the pandemic, travel is slowly restarting. Some airplane flights are reinstated. While some hotels closed permanently, others have an increased number of guests. Limited cruising has started, though not without problems. Rail usage is expanding.
While history continues to write itself, I think it’s valuable to see what pandemic lessons we’ve learned so far.
It’s possible to travel and return home safely, but there are no guarantees:
At this time, there are more than 250,000 new cases of COVID-19 daily. Despite that, many travelers taking responsibility for their health and safety are able to avoid becoming COVID infected. No matter how careful you are and where you go, however, even if you take serious measures to avoid infection, there’s no guarantee you won’t get the virus.
COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through air and the aerosolized virus is able to hang there for quite some time.
COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through the air, by aerosolization and respiratory droplets. The virus is a particularly serious problem indoors due to aerosolization. Even with good ventilation, the aerosolized virus can hang in the air for quite some time. In addition, the secondary method of COVID-19 transmission is by touching contaminated surfaces, making good sanitation important.
Study after study, like the one at Florida Atlantic University, and COVID transmission statistics, prove that surgical and multi-layer cloth face masks work. They can significantly reduce the amount of virus that people expel into the air while speaking, coughing and sneezing, plus protect the people wearing them, though not quite as well as protecting others.
Too many travelers selfishly refuse to wear a face mask to protect those around them.
Too many travelers are selfish:
It seems that every day an air traveler somewhere refuses to wear a mask to protect others on their flight and is kicked off the plane and banned from future travel. I’ve been at restaurants where tables are purposely spaced apart, but people, sans masks, insist on standing in between tables, defeating social distancing.
COVID-19 doesn’t stop at international border crossing barriers:
More than 35 countries across the world have more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases.
The COVID-19 virus can infect people everywhere:
COVID-19 isn’t a “city disease.” COVID-19 has hit those living in both suburbs and rural locations, too. It’s killed people regardless of where they live, their culture or where they travel.
You don’t have to feel sick to infect others with COVID-19:
One of the major challenges of COVID-19 is that sick, infectious people can have no symptoms. While looking and feeling healthy, they can infect others and spread the virus.
A summer pandemic lesson — weather doesn’t slow the virus infection rate
Warm weather doesn’t slow down COVID-19 transmission:
One only has to look at the soaring infection rates in the U.S. this past summer to know that warm/hot weather has no effect on COVID-19 transmission.
COVID-19 testing can prevent infection transmission by travelers:
Temperature checks and COVID questionnaires at airports and cruise terminals won’t reveal infected travelers who are asymptomatic, but actual COVID-19 tests can reveal it. If we want to halt infections caused by travelers, testing them is essential.
Don’t tune out the world on vacation:
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers have learned that communication is vital. While you may wish to tune out everyday life, while on vacation it’s crucial to follow the news to stay safe and learn what’s going on around you. I recommend hard news sources, not social media or media that colors the facts. It’s critical to keep cellphones on to communicate, as needed, with family, important information sources and governments for safety information and instructions.
Don’t count on government help in an emergency. Look out for yourself.
Don’t expect your government to help you in an emergency, or any other government either:
In the early days of the pandemic, governments significantly delayed helping citizens evacuate to their home countries, even as travelers were dying and unable to get essential medical care. While many governments eventually helped evacuate their citizens, more than a few travelers were unable to coordinate with their governments and missed the evacuations.
Don’t expect other governments to help, either. For example, government after government refused to help passengers caught on cruise ships in the early days of the pandemic.
If you ask yourself if it’s time to go home:
When conditions at your destination begin to deteriorate and you begin to ask yourself if it’s time to go home, it’s already time to leave. Don’t get trapped. Get out.
Personal responsibility is always essential:
Don’t expect or wait for someone else to keep you safe and healthy. Take responsibility for your own safety and health.
Bad COVID-19 pandemic lessons kill
Get your scientific and medical news from competent, highly trained physicians and scientists who are experts in their field of endeavor and whose work has been found credible by peer review. Social media and too many politicians have railed against masks and pushed worthless treatments and cures. People have been infected following their advice. Some have died.
If there are just two things you learn from this discussion, I hope it is that you need to get your news and advice about the pandemic from credible experts and when you’re out and about, wear a face mask to protect yourself and those around you.
After many years working in corporate America as a chemical engineer, executive and eventually CFO of a multinational manufacturer, Ned founded a tech consulting company and later restarted NSL Photography, his photography business. Before entering the corporate world, Ned worked as a Public Health Engineer for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. As a well known corporate, travel and wildlife photographer, Ned travels the world writing about travel and photography, as well as running photography workshops, seminars and photowalks. Visit Ned’s Photography Blog and Galleries.