COVID-19 Story Tip: Gatherings and Travel Safety as States Lift Coronavirus Restrictions


As states reopen businesses and venues where crowds are likely to gather, there are many ways to ensure safe travel and engagement. One approach is to test people with and without symptoms of COVID-19. A rapid antigen test can detect the coronavirus in minutes, and those without it can be allowed to enter a restaurant, attend a church service or go on a cruise ship, says William Greenough III, M.D., professor emeritus of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and associate medical director and clinical chief of the ventilator rehabilitation unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

In addition to trained medical professionals continuing to test, rapid community testing can allow people infected to learn quickly of their condition and quarantine appropriately.

Another aspect of safe traveling is the use of contact tracing — identifying and contacting those who potentially came in contact with an infected person, and advising them on the next steps. Contact tracing can decrease spread of the virus if the contacts can quarantine for the recommended two to three weeks.

When it comes to transportation, Greenough recommends selecting an airline, train or bus that tests passengers before boarding, seats passengers at least 6 feet apart and adheres to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations regarding vehicle cleaning. Although traveling by car with coronavirus-negative passengers is safer, Greenough notes that all passengers must be mindful of the potential for exposure to the virus when stopping at gas stations, rest stops and other places where crowds may gather.

Camping is safe, Greenough adds, as long as you avoid using facilities and equipment frequently used by others, maintain social distance and prioritize outdoor activities. For out-of-state travel, know the status of the pandemic at your destination, and observe all the precautions the CDC suggests: wash your hands frequently; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; wear a mask; maintain a 6-foot distance from others, and buy food and other items via drive-thru and curbside pickup.

Greenough is available for interviews about traveling safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

For information from Johns Hopkins Medicine about the coronavirus pandemic, visit For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit