Jacksonville immunologist on travel and COVID: ‘A much better spot than 2 years ago’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Coronavirus isn’t quite gone and certainly hasn’t been forgotten, but the virus doesn’t panic people as it did during the height of the pandemic over the past two years.

That being said, Jacksonville-area medical professionals agree that this summer, travel is not as big of a concern even as COVID cases are on the rise.

Through Tuesday, the 7-day average for new cases in Florida was more than 9,000 daily.

“To put a little perspective to that, early in May, we had here in Duval County about a 2.5% positivity rate. When the state released data last weekend, we were up to 18.5%,” explained Dr. Sunil Joshi, an allergist and immunologist.

While the case numbers rise, Joshi says hospitalizations are not up dramatically — something he calls a good sign.

Severe illness is not nearly as bad as it was a year ago. That impacts the advice medical professionals are giving when it comes to widespread travel for a holiday like the Fourth of July.

“If you are fully vaccinated and you’ve received your booster and you’re at relatively low risk of severe disease outcomes, please enjoy yourself and travel the summer and travel like you had been in the past, but be smart,”

Joshi says that means checking the levels of positivity in whatever location you plan to travel to.

In a crowded indoor facility, he says consider wearing a high-quality mask.

And if you’re not fully vaccinated, or at severe risk of serious outcomes from the illness, maybe adjust your plans — but keep in mind that most Americans have been fully vaccinated.

“I think one thing we are all tired of talking about COVID, right?” Joshi said. “The bottom line is: I think we have to admit and realize we’re in a much better spot than we were two years ago when we were talking about let’s not travel, let’s wear masks wherever we go.”

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.