The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

‘Stay home:’ Experts warn against Labor Day travel amid COVID spike

- By Amanda Cuda

Dr. Zane Saul has some advice for how those not vaccinated against COVID should spend their Labor Day weekend.

“Stay home,” said Saul, chief of infectious disease at Bridgeport Hospital. He said holiday weekends such as the one approachin­g can be a huge opportunit­y for disease spread.

“There’s unmasking and crowds and people being too close together when they shouldn’t be,” he said.

Saul is echoing the advice of local health profession­als and the Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention

During a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing Tuesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky advised that Americans — particular­ly those not vaccinated against COVID-19 — stay home over the Labor Day weekend.

“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinat­ed, we would recommend not traveling,” Walensky said in the briefing.

She said those who are vaccinated and willing to wear masks can travel, but

should consider avoiding it if possible.

The CDC recommends on its website that people delay traveling until they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, “because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”

The advice comes amid the rise of the delta COVID variant, which experts say is more transmissi­ble than previous strains, and surges in several states, including Texas and Florida.

Connecticu­t’s daily positivity rate — which soared to nearly 5 percent on Tuesday — dipped to 2.97 percent on Wednesday. Hospitaliz­ations continued to decline slightly with three fewer patients, bringing the statewide total to 360.

Though Saul and other experts said Connecticu­t is not experienci­ng the same surging number of cases as other places around the country, the state is enduring a COVID spike.

“The rate is still high (in Connecticu­t),” said Dr. Steven Valassis, chairman of emergency medicine at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. “Multiple counties have high COVID transmissi­on rate.”

Considerin­g the circumstan­ces, he said, everyone should remain vigilant.

“Whenever we’ve had holiday weekends in the past, we’ve always seen spikes follow that,” he said. “Now we have this delta variant that’s more easily spread and make people sicker. And that coincides with children going back to school, and people traveling to college.”

Valassis said risk is plentiful, especially with those under 12 not yet eligible for the vaccine.

“Enjoy the weekend with your family, but staying close to home makes sense,” he said.

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