Carpooling during COVID? Experts say to take these precautions

Eldis Sula
October 23, 2020 - 3:38 pm

    The coronavirus pandemic has changed morning commutes for Americans to and from school and work.

    But even amid rising COVID numbers, Americans find themselves having to return to old morning travel methods as institutions and businesses reopen around the country.

    One form of transportation that has experts worried in particular is traveling in cars with other people, whether through rideshare apps or carpooling.

    “They're shedding virus in their mouth and their nose and they're speaking and talking, and in a small car, that individual is certainly going to transmit virus to the members of that car,” Dr. Juan Salazar, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and physician-in-chief at Connecticut Children's, told “Good Morning America.”

    If you do find yourself having to rely on a mode of travel that includes riding with other people, here are a few safety measures to keep in mind.

    Wear a face covering and wash your hands

    This critical piece of COVID advice applies to carpooling. Experts advise wearing a face mask in a vehicle with others, and sticking to stringent hand-washing and hand-sanitizing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommend frequent cleaning and disinfection of surfaces.

    Don’t branch out of your immediate carpool group

    The CDC advises sticking to your immediate group or cluster of people during rides, keeping the number low and sticking to the same individuals everyday. Dr. John Brownstein, epidemiologist, ABC News contributor and chief innovation officer of Boston Children’s Hospital, told GMA: "Your additional contacts lead to potential risk so if you maintain the same contacts, you will reduce your own risk and the risk of spreading to others.”

    Keep the AC on non-recirculation

    The CDC says it’s best to keep your vehicle’s air conditioner or heater on non-recirculation mode. This helps bring in more fresh air into the car and dilute any potential COVID-19 that are floating in the air while you drive.

    Sit far from the driver

    Getting in an Uber? Make sure to sit far from the driver. The CDC encourages picking a seat in the vehicle that is as far as possible from the passenger behind the wheel — likely the back seat diagonal from the driver.

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