I know that this is the time of year many of you are thinking about spring break and summer vacation travel. However, the current COVID-19 situation may be causing you concern about where to go or whether to travel at all. Here are some things I would like you to consider if you are planning travel or about to embark on a trip. First, please be sure you are aware of any CDC travel advisories that exist. These advisories will tell you about the current travel recommendations for countries and regions where COVID-19 resides, including information specific to older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. The airlines are also watching these advisories, and many are changing or cancelling flights accordingly. Even travel within the United States may need to be revisited, as airlines and trains are reducing service and events are being cancelled.
If you do travel internationally, you may be screened for COVID-19 symptoms when you return to the United States. Even if you are not sick, you may be asked to stay home for 14 days before coming to work—regardless of where you traveled. If you come to work and later develop flu-like symptoms, you may be sent home for the duration of the illness. Please talk with your supervisor before you report to work if you or a family member has traveled internationally, has been asked to self-quarantine, or has flu-like symptoms.
It is important we work together to protect you, your family, and your colleagues to the greatest extent possible. Please do not be afraid to report flu-like symptoms, especially those related to travel. An overview of telework and leave options is provided in the DHS HR Guide for Employees: Pandemic Emergency Reference. Supervisors also have guidance they can review if workplace flexibilities are being considered.
I recognize that a lot of time, money, and anticipation are wrapped up in vacations, both for you and your families. Be thoughtful about your plans and be prepared to be flexible. As we have seen in the news, events and advisories can change rapidly. You could leave for a destination where there is no problem the day you depart, but while you are away find that airline, train, or cruise schedules have changed or that new health screening measures are in place. Scrambling to find a way home, or finding you have to end your vacation with self-quarantine measures, may not be the restful break you envisioned.
Again, if you do plan to travel, please ensure that you review the CDC travel advisory website before embarking on any international travel. If you are considering domestic travel or an overseas trip, the CDC has a series of web videos about COVID-19 to review. Whether you travel or not, you can find tips to keep healthy on the CDC’s COVID-19 website.
In the meantime, keep up those good habits: wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, practice proper sneeze and cough etiquette, use greetings other than handshakes, and if you are feeling sick with influenza-like symptoms, stay home for the duration of your illness.
I will continue to provide you updated information.
Chief Human Capital Officer