COVID-19 travel guilt

So we are traveling in the middle of the ongoing 2019-2020 coronavirus outbreak and I feel guilty about it. While we are not currently in a location that is being heavily hit by new cases of the virus, we run the risk of becoming infected and spreading the virus further every time we move around. We started this trip in early January when the coronavirus was much smaller and I hadn’t heard any information predicting what it has now become.

Map of COVID-19 spread taken from on 2020-03-09.

As of right now, we have four weeks remaining in our itinerary with stops planned in Edinburgh, Norway, Sweden, and Paris before returning home. Our options are probably to either cut our trip short and head home, shelter in one location until it is time to return home, or continue with our itinerary as planned. Riskiest part of our remaining itinerary is the final 5 days that we have planned in Paris. France recently crossed 1,000 cases and the number of cases is growing quickly.

We’ve looked at the possibility of returning home early. We’ve found that from our current location in Aberdeen, we’d have to fly out of Edinburgh and in order to get back to Minneapolis, we’d be facing quite expensive tickets that our travel insurance wouldn’t likely cover since we aren’t currently being recommended to change plans by any health authority. We could also explore sheltering in-place by trying to extend our stay in Scotland. Not sure yet how we would do this as the place we are currently staying is not available for an extension and again our travel insurance wouldn’t likely cover our cancelled plans or any new reservations.

The Litany Against Fear for hand washing. Found on /r/WitchesVsPatriarchy.

I expect that we will continue with our planned itinerary while taking precautions to limit our exposure to other people and public venues as well as use good hand-washing practices. I am of course watching closely as things develop and adapt as appropriate. In any case, I expect that we will have to self-quarantine once we do return to the US. If I was viewing the situation from a purely selfish standpoint, my family is probably safer facing the coronavirus while in Scandinavia/Europe given the lack of preparedness from the US government.

Published by devinberg

Associate Professor of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

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