Planning a family trip? Ohio doctors share what to keep in mind with mask rules dropping

“Flying is safe on the plane. It’s not zero risk,” said Dr. Joe Gastaldo, an infectious disease specialist at OhioHealth.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you’re planning and packing for your next trip, you can now leave one thing behind — your masks. 

Masks are no longer required at Columbus airports, on COTA buses, and for Uber and Lyft.

These changes are likely something families are thinking about as they make summer travel plans. 10TV’s team of infectious disease experts weighs in on what you need to know to keep your family safe.

“I would still wear the masks in areas where there’s so high levels of virus circulating and we know that masks will prevent you from getting sick,” said Dr. Mahdee Sobhanie, an infectious disease expert at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

When it comes to the risk of getting COVID on an airplane our experts said due to airflow, it’s generally safe.

However, you can’t control who you’re sitting near.

“I think that I would still wear a mask because I really don’t know the person sitting next to me and what they may bring,” said Dr. Mark Herbert, an infectious disease expert from Mount Carmel Health System.

“Flying is safe on the plane. It’s not zero risk,” said Dr. Joe Gastaldo, an infectious disease specialist at OhioHealth. “And in the context of us not having mask mandates anymore you may have somebody who is coughing or sneezing next to you with COVID-19 not wearing a mask, and that we’ll be putting viruses out there.”

And there’s more to consider: you or someone in your family may have a compromised immune system or you’re traveling with children too young for a vaccine.

“If it were my kid, and they’re between 2 and 5, and not able to get vaccinated yet, I’d still have them wear a mask on a plane,” said Dr. Mike Patrick, an emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Even though COVID is a mild disease in most children, that’s also not 100%.”

Our experts say it’s unclear when a vaccine will be ready for little ones under the age of 5.

“Right now, I think they’re really tinkering with the dose, like what is the best dose, you don’t want to necessarily be too high, you don’t want it to be too low, you want to get it right the first time,” said Dr. Patrick.

There are a couple of ways to monitor COVID where you are or where you’re going.

One way is through current virus levels in wastewater. You can track this at the CDC’s website – there’s local data. Here’s a look at Franklin County from two different locations.

And two, Walgreens now has an active dashboard showing positivity rates at all locations across the country. 

Tools recommended by the experts to help you and your family stay informed as you plan those summer trips.

COVID-19 in Ohio: Recent Coverage ⬇️

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