Summer vacation and gathering tips for our third summer of the COVID-19 pandemic

Group of people swimming and tubing in a pool

Summer is in full swing! We’ve compiled a few tips to help you feel even more confident in your gathering and travel plans this year.

Can we return to summers as we knew them?

Right now, many of us are in that sweet, relaxing, vacation-taking time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. People are gathering, enjoying the outdoors and traveling. Many restrictions on daily life have lifted, but some may still be looking for ways to get tested for COVID-19 before being in a crowd or on a plane.

The SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and testing remain the strongest tools we have to increase our confidence and make a return to normal activities as safe as possible. As new variants continue to emerge, PCR testing remains the gold standard to detect COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 109,000 daily new cases of COVID-19 in May of this year, bringing the total number of cases to nearly 88 million.

While these numbers reflect a better scenario than a year ago—with higher vaccinations rates and boosters, more treatments and fewer cases of severe illness and hospitalizations—and most certainly a better scenario than two years ago, they also highlight that we’re not out of the woods yet.

Is it safe to travel right now?

While Labcorp is no expert in the travel industry, we are often asked about testing before embarking on a trip. At the time of posting, recently two major, COVID-19 travel restrictions were lifted in the US:

  1. As of April 2022, it is optional for passengers to wear masks on public transportation in the U.S.
  2. As of June 2022, air passengers traveling to the U.S. are no longer required to verify COVID-19 negative status before flying

This has made travel less restrictive during the summer, which is encouraging for vacation-loving families and those who must travel for work or family reasons. However, regulations and guidelines may still change at any time, depending on case severity. Reduce exposure risk for yourself and others with these tips for travel safety from the CDC

  • Make sure every member of your family is COVID-19-negative before traveling
  • If you or a family member is COVID-19-positive, wait the recommended 10 days before traveling, and if you’ve come in close contact with someone who tested positive but are not required to quarantine, wait five days before traveling

If you are traveling outside of the U.S., check requirements and regulations at your destination to make sure a negative PCR or antigen test is no longer required.

Why test using PCR?

A PCR test is one of the best ways to confirm you and those you care about are currently negative for COVID-19. With results in 24-48 hours, PCR testing is also one of the fastest ways to confirm an antigen test.

Summer fun: Ballparks, beaches, barbecues and beyond

Summer is full of activities that involve large crowds. The CDC recommends that these crowded activities should mostly still be avoided, especially for those who are immunocompromised or maintain comorbidities. But, it is understandable that now, with vaccines available, testing and proper COVID-19 precautions in place, people are feeling more confident attending larger crowd activities.

Crowded activities like sporting events, concerts, festivals, parades and more are great ways to enjoy the summer. Individual states, towns or venues may continue to have restrictions or precautions in place, such as:

  • Vaccine requirements
  • Masking protocols and temperature checks
  • Larger, more socially distant spaces

If your entertainment destination doesn’t include any safety protocols, it may be safest to avoid it.

Summer camp and kids’ sports

Many children are out of school and engaging in summer activities like the pool, sports and camps. So, when it’s time for your kids to leave the roost for a few days or weeks and attend summer camp, you may find yourself needing to meet certain safety measures, which might include vaccination requirements and frequent testing.

As of May 19, 2022, the CDC recommends children ages 5-11 receive their first vaccine booster shot, now that they’re eligible. Vaccination rates have already begun rising for this age group: as of June 23, 2022, nearly 500,000 children have received their first SARS-CoV-2 booster shot.

Look for the following policies and procedures from summer camps or activity organizations to help you and your children feel safer about participating:

  • Vaccination requirements for attendance
  • Moderate to strict social distancing, especially for indoor activities/bunks
  • Mask requirements for indoor activities/bunks
  • Enhanced food safety for snacks and meals
  • Strict monitoring for illness and protocols for if someone gets sick

Checking for the above five measures will help both you and your children feel safer during summer activities.

Additionally, if your child comes back from their activities with a fever, fatigue, runny nose, cough or other common symptoms of COVID-19, you can get peace of mind with a PCR combination test. This will help identify not only COVID, but also flu and RSV with one swab and can offer a larger degree of reliability than an off-the-shelf rapid test. PCR testing allows us to have greater confidence in results, which means treatments can be more accurately offered and kids can get back to fun in the sun.

If you’ve got young ones attending day camps or sports, it is also important to ask the question: How will the camp or organization help little children navigate COVID-19 safety protocols?

Summer fun is both exciting and possible with safety in mind

We want you and your family to have the best time over the next few months before the young ones need to return to school. In the meantime, we’re also here to provide all the testing and screening options you need to engage in safe, fun activities and travel for you and your family.

Stay safe out there! And stay tuned for more insights from Labcorp as we continue to navigate COVID-19 together.

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