A week of fast-moving coronavirus news has puzzled travelers — me included.
The World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on March 11. That night, President Trump announced restrictions on travel to the U.S. from much of Europe for 30 days, though the ban will not apply to U.S. citizens and certain other travelers with ties to the U.S. People arriving from Europe will be routed to designated U.S. airports for screening. (At this writing, it is unclear if Minneapolis-St. Paul International will be among those airports.) The U.S. State Department has introduced a Level 3 Global Health Advisory, encouraging citizens to reconsider all travel abroad.
What about domestic travel? Given the news, I reconsidered my own upcoming trip to Los Angeles, despite a prepaid, nonrefundable hotel reservation. Los Angeles County has declared a state of emergency. An eerie Instagram photo taken during rush hour of the 405, the country’s most congested freeway, showed only a handful of vehicles. UCLA has transitioned to online learning. I wondered if store and museum closings would come next.
Then I considered the bigger picture. Would I be traveling to a place where a health crisis was in full bloom? Maybe it would be better for the people of L.A. if I stayed home.
Health experts promote social distancing with the hope that the country can avoid spikes in illness, the kind that could leave hospitals overwhelmed and sick people underserved. As the WHO’s director general said when announcing the pandemic, “let’s look out for each other.”
My family made a tough call. We changed our flight (Delta is waiving the usual $200 per ticket fee) and shifted the hotel dates (we could move our reservation, but not get a refund).
Meanwhile, a new plan is buoying my spirits. I just booked a cheap flight to New Orleans for summer, and I can cancel without penalty since Delta will charge no change fee on flights booked through March 31.