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'Always remember the safest thing is not to go' | Health experts warn about safety in spring break travel

'Travel is probably our number one reason of bringing more infection back in the community.'

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — This time last year, many were planning out spring break trips until the coronavirus pandemic put everything on pause Today, with a vaccine, a better understanding of the virus and a decrease in the number of cases, people are planning vacation — but health experts are still warning about safety. 

"Travel is probably our number one reason of bringing more infection back in the community," said Dr. Sarah Moyer, Louisville Metro's Chief Health Strategist. "So I am definitely concerned but I think we know how to mitigate better than we did previously."

Trends from last year show a surge in cases after travel holidays on the Fourth of July, fall break, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Moyer said even if vaccinated, it is best to reconsider spring break travel plans. 

"If you are planning a trip just always remember the safest thing is not to go," Moyer said. "Second safest thing is maybe keep your travel local, but if you are traveling and taking probably a very well-needed break make sure you are testing three days before you leave."

The health department has counted at least five cases of reinfection involving those who have been vaccinated, though she says all of them were older residents with weaker immune systems. 

"If anyone falls under the categories to be vaccinated make sure they have at least their first dose before you go," Moyer said. "It's always best to quarantine two weeks before you leave."

New Albany travel agent Mark Bliss, owner of Bliss Travel Inc, said people have been booking their spring break flights since the end of 2020.

"We've done a lot of Disney, a lot of Key West to try to get down far enough south to try to get that weather," Bliss said. 

Bliss is currently working with about 12 families. 

"[We've] seen a lot of domestic spring break which is not the norm for us anyway, but I think a lot of people are a little sketchy about leaving the country," Bliss said. 

The CDC requires travelers from abroad to present a negative test if they come back into the U.S. Bliss believes that is why most of his clients are avoiding international travel.

"People are scared they might get stuck in a foreign country in their destination," Bliss said. 

Manager of Travel Promotions at AAA East Central Marita Williams said more people are taking the non-traditional route when it comes to spring break plans. 

"A lot of bicycling, hiking kayaking — that is something that people would have never thought that would've been their big draw for their vacation but they're loving it," Williams said. 

AAA East Central expects to see a spike in the number of drivers hitting the road in coming weeks. 

"What we’re seeing now with what happened during COVID is a lot of people are doing different vacations than what they normally would," Williams said. "You might be doing a national park vacation or staying close to home or driving to local parks."

RELATED: Moyer: Louisville has 'a few more weeks' before vaccinating Phase 1C

RELATED: 'It will be required' | Vaccination passports could be required as soon as the summer

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