For many across the region, spring break began in earnest at the end of this week as many schools have dismissed classes until April.
As COVID-19 cases have drastically receded over the past two months, more and more people may be now considering taking a trip.
According to Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson for the Dearborn-based auto group AAA Michigan, even before the Russia-Ukraine conflict and a rise in gas prices, travel was on the road to recovery from the pandemic. A quarterly AAA survey in January revealed that 62% of Michigan residents felt comfortable traveling; a significant increase from the 38% reported in early 2021.
As a result, travel bookings with AAA were stronger in the first two months than the same time in 2021.
According to the survey, traveler confidence was driven by the following:
- The COVID-19 vaccine
- Belief that the risk of contracting the virus is the same wherever they go
- The implementation of enhanced safety measures
- People are less afraid about the dangers of the virus
- More confident in medical treatments and outcomes
“While some of this is the excitement of getting back to traveling, there are those who had more money to spend after traveling less in recent years,” Woodland said. “And additionally, we’re beginning to see customers apply travel vouchers that they may have received after postponing a previous trip due to the pandemic.”
Dr. Josh Meyerson, medical director of the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, said travelers should take necessary precautions they feel are necessary while traveling.
“We want everyone to enjoy their well-deserved time off from school or work – whether you’re traveling or taking a stay-at-home vacation,” Meyerson said. “So, enjoy … but do so safely and stay healthy.”
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan offered the following tips to area residents to have a safe and healthy spring break:
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines as well as all routine vaccines. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan offers convenient COVID-19 vaccination clinics across its four-county region of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties.
- Check the travel requirements and recommendations for your destination. View the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, www.cdc.gov, for health risks or requirements at your destination. As a reminder, masks are required to be worn in many public places while traveling.
- Visit your health care provider. They can help you get destination-specific vaccines, medicines, and information.
- Plan for unexpected issues. Doing so can help you get quality health care or avoid being stranded at a destination if you become hurt or ill.
- Protect yourself during travel. Take COVID-19 precautions. Practice road safety. Wear sunscreen. Avoid bug bites by using insect repellent. Ensure contaminated food or drinks don’t make you become ill.
- Do not travel if you are sick, tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test, or had close contact with a person with COVID-19 and are recommended to quarantine.
According to the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, for the week of March 16-22 a total of 38 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the department’s four-county region. Of that number, 13 cases were reported in Emmet County, nine apiece in Antrim and Otsego counties and seven in Charlevoix County.
Additionally, two COVID-19 associated deaths were reported over the same time frame in Otsego County and one death was reported in Antrim County.
According to data from the Chippewa County Health Department, as of March 23 there were 48 active (diagnosed in the last 10 days) COVID-19 cases in the county, and one individual was hospitalized as a result of the illness.
“Our rates are lower and across our area and the state, and really across the nation for the most part,” Meyerson said. “The amount of disease transmission is less, so in that sense the risk is lower and less, but it’s certainly not zero.”