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Researchers create COVID holiday travel checklist

Health experts are concerned about a rise in COVID-19 cases heading into the holidays, but you can start planning now to keep you and your family safe.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Halloween is just days away and winter holidays are just around the corner, all while coronavirus cases are on the rise in Oregon and across the country.

We are now seeing increases in 42 states as hospitals reach capacity. Experts warn the next 12 weeks could be the darkest period of the pandemic.           

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said we've already seen a clear pattern of case numbers shooting up after holiday weekends.

“We also know that COVID-19 transmits more easily indoors than outdoors,” Vines said. “So, there's a real concern that in the coming weeks, the coming months, as people head indoors and look for those natural human ways of wanting to connect with other people – that we are going to see the virus spread and potentially make its way to older people who are at higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.”

So as the case numbers go up, how can you keep yourself and your family safe during the upcoming holidays?

This year, Vines suggests keeping Thanksgiving and other holiday traditions to just your household and socializing outdoors instead of around food.

RELATED: Portland restaurants winterizing outdoor dining

If you're traveling, near or far, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas have come up with a holiday checklist to help you plan ahead.

Vines sees it as a step in the right direction.

“I don't have a magic formula for how to do it without any risk at all, but certainly a plan like that, that speaks to how to manage risk during travel, how to have a conversation with people that you're seeing,” she said.

Here are some examples from the checklist:

  • Today, get your flu shot. Check travel restrictions at your destination and have everyone attending pledge to follow the guidelines.
  • Two weeks before the get-together, if you can, start your self-quarantine. Conduct daily temperature checks and continue following all safety measures.
  • Then, for five to seven days leading up to the holiday, get your diagnostic PCR test to make sure you haven't been infected. And stock up on hand sanitizers, face masks, Clorox wipes, plus any other items you may need for travel. 
  • Day of travel, when it's time to hit the road or the skies, make sure you have proper PPE and avoid crowded areas.

While the checklist is a great place to start, there is no vaccine and no surefire way to prevent transmission of COVID-19 while traveling this holiday season.

“I will point out that nothing is full proof. So, I see a plan like this as risk reduction. Any time people get together there is some risk of disease spread, whether it's COVID-19 or something else,” Vines said.

Click here to print out the full checklist from Baylor researchers. 

RELATED: Oregon, Washington join multi-state review group on COVID-19 vaccine