It would be hypocritical of me to continue writing about COVID without acknowledging that I tested positive after getting home from our most recent trip. In spite of my best efforts to protect myself, I still contracted COVID. Janet got it too. Actually, I got it from her, and she got it from one of the people on the river cruise we took. That person, there were at least two people who in hindsight were symptomatic during the cruise, most likely became infected when they opted not to mask up on their flights over to Europe. Their airlines did not require masking whereas Lufthansa, whom Janet and I flew with, did. Everybody in our group was vaccinated, though we weren’t required to get tested before the trip. Even though it wasn’t required, Janet did a home test before we departed…it was negative. The people in our group whom I suspect infected us didn’t start showing symptoms until around day 4 of our cruise so I doubt if pre-departure testing would have done any good anyway. Neither person asked to get tested once they started with the sniffles and sneezing, nor did anyone from the cruise line ask them to get tested. One attributed her symptoms to asthma, the other to allergies. Those seemed like reasonable explanations at the time, common problems when you travel to another country across six time zones. In hindsight, they weren’t. They had COVID.
In my last post about COVID I wrote that I didn’t think it was inevitable that Janet and I would get COVID, in spite of our travels. I was wrong. I underestimated two things when I posted that….the ease with which the current strains of COVID evade protective measures by those who take them, and more importantly, I grossly underestimated the willingness of the other people we come into contact with while traveling to take the same precautions and protections that Janet and I observe.
For both me and Janet our COVID cases were mild….much less bothersome than the last actual cold I contracted. I chalk that up to us being vaccinated and double boosted. It didn’t prevent us from getting COVID, but I do believe it prevented us from getting really sick.
It seems that most of the world, the travel industry included, has put rigid adherence to pandemic prevention behind them. Contact tracing is non-existent now, and I’m not sure how effective it would have been anyway. There was no mechanism for me to report my positive COVID test result to the airline, nor to the river cruise company once I got home and got tested. Janet did inform the host of our travel event of our positive COVD tests, but by then anyone else who contracted COVID on the cruise as we did would have already experienced symptoms and gotten themselves tested. Or chose not to.
For the most part, both the government and the travel industry has gone from treating COVID like a plague to treating it like the common cold almost overnight. It has only been within the past month that most travel related COVID testing requirements have been eliminated. I can’t even say that approach is wrong…only time will tell.
I know that COVID won’t be the mild annoyance for everyone that it has been for me and Janet. I will continue to get booster shots when they are available and recommended, I will continue to mask up when I fly or find myself in crowded indoor spaces, and I will continue to get tested when I think I’ve been exposed or have even mild symptoms and isolate as appropriate. That’s all I can do at a time when others won’t even do that much.
My biggest take away from my bout with COVID is that I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m over 60 years old now and have more of my life behind me than in front of me. I am no longer willing to put a single day of whatever time I have left on this Earth on hold in an effort to avoid COVID. Maybe my mild encounter with COVID has emboldened me, but I don’t think so. I felt that way before we took our most recent trip, and my recent bout with COVID just reinforces that feeling.
Whether or not it is right for you to travel still comes down to your personal risk tolerance. The main difference between today and the early days of the pandemic is that you can no longer count on others to keep you protected. For better or worse, most people traveling now aren’t taking even the simple precaution of wearing a mask, and that’s an important consideration if you fall into a higher risk group. COVID is still a greater threat than most people are willing to treat it as being, but it won’t be too much longer before it too is “just a cold” and maybe for all practical purposes it already is.
This will probably be my last post dealing with COVID. As travel suppliers and governments around the world drop the few COVID restrictions that remain, there is little else I can offer on the subject. I’m living proof that no amount of personal protective measures will keep you from getting COVID.
As travel agents we will still advise our clients to take the same precautions we continue to take for our own travel…get vaccinated, boosted, and mask up on planes, buses, and in crowded indoor spaces. We will also continue to inform our clients of the few COVID restrictions and requirements that remain depending on your destination and mode of travel. That gets easier to do as time goes on, as each major restriction or requirement falls by the wayside. There aren’t many left, and those too will be going away soon enough. Is it too soon? I don’t know.
Janet and I already had several more trips planned between now and the end of the year, and we still plan to take them. We are taking a month off from travel to make sure the next time we hit the road we aren’t the cause of someone else’s case of COVID, but we will travel. At some point down the road we’ll probably get COVID again. By then treating COVID like the common cold might be the norm….it pretty much is now.
(Originally posted on 29 Jul 2022)