March 4, 2020
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

State Health Agency Offers Tips for Travelers in Response to COVID-19

Advice is for people who are planning and returning from trips

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is urging people who are planning trips and returning travelers to pay attention to guidance for travel provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus).

“The reality is that we really have to carefully consider our travel plans as COVID-19 affects more countries,” said State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers. “The CDC provides travel notices that can help people make informed decisions about their travel plans. These notices are based on the potential health risks involved with traveling to a certain area, and it should be frequently monitored as guidance is evolving rapidly with COVID-19.” 

Travel notices fall under different levels, with level 3 travel health notices indicating widespread and sustained transmission of COVID-19 and level 2 travel health notices indicating sustained, but not widespread, community transmission. As of today, the countries with level 2 and 3 travel health notices include: China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. Check the CDC’s Travel Information page for details on the various risks in those countries.

Out of an abundance of caution, DHS is also recommending that travelers returning from countries with a CDC level 2 or level 3 travel health notice follow guidance for travelers returning from countries with a CDC level 2 or 3 travel health notice. This includes limited self-quarantine for people traveling from countries with a level 3 notice. All returning travelers should monitor themselves for symptoms of the illness, such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. People should keep in mind that this may be re-evaluated as new guidance becomes available.

For travelers who develop symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of leaving the country with a level 2 or 3 notice:

  • Call your health care provider. Call ahead before you go to your doctor’s office or to an emergency room. Tell them your symptoms and that you traveled to an area of the world experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Do not use public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • If you have a face mask, wear it if you need to be around other people.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze.

Anyone needing emergency medical attention during their monitoring period should call 911 and let them know that they traveled to an area of the world experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

“We will continue to provide information about COVID-19 as DHS prepares for a possible pandemic, but I want to reassure people that the risk of getting COVID-19 in Wisconsin remains low,” Ayers said. “We can all do our part to prevent the spread of illnesses by thoroughly and frequently washing our hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when we are sick.”