Traveling during coronavirus: Should you postpone spring break trips? | by Michael Bartiromo | March 13, 2020

Many people are rescheduling spring break plans as coronavirus spreads – but should you?

The short answer? It depends on where you are traveling and how you are getting there.

Popular domestic spring break destinations such as Miami and South Padre Island are in states that are currently experiencing increased positive cases of coronavirus.  As of March 13, Florida had 42 positive cases, and 2 deaths, while Texas had 28 confirmed.  On Friday, Texas declared a state of disaster for all counties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which typically does not issue advisories for U.S. travel, advise those considering travel to be aware of the community spread of the disease in certain areas and the elevated risk it could potentially pose to those traveling through airports or communal areas in those states.

Ensure where you are going is still open as many popular tourist destinations both internationally and domestically have closed.  Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California, for instance, will close starting Saturday until end the end of March.

The CDC currently puts the risk of infection at “low” when flying between areas that are not experiencing “sustained community transmission.

The CDC currently puts the risk of infection at “low” when flying between areas that are not experiencing “sustained community transmission. (iStock)

Method of travel is just as important to consider, as several cruise liners have canceled voyages after the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess both experienced outbreaks that left 700 and 21 passengers testing positive for coronavirus, respectively.

Planes are still in operation – however, some domestic airlines have canceled flights or altered schedules amid the decrease in demand. The CDC currently puts the risk of infection at “low” when flying between areas that are not experiencing “sustained community transmission,” but urges travelers to always maintain best practices when it comes to safety and hygiene on flights.

For vulnerable populations – meaning those above 60 or people who have underlying health issues – travel to areas experiencing outbreaks is strongly advised against by the CDC.

Several students spoke to Fox 11 about their concerns over the virus. While many were concerned about COVID-19, and vowed to stay home, others felt the deals were too good to pass up.

Several students spoke about their concerns over the virus

Several students spoke about their concerns over the virus (iStock)

“So long as we take proper measures, we should be fine,” said Kadin Barr of Green Bay, who was flying out Tampa Bay with his family, Fox 11 reported.

“I’m staying at home spring break, I’m not going out,” said Wisconsin student Anthony Balao. “I don’t wanna get that!”


If you are concerned about coronavirus and need to reschedule your travel plans, most flights and lodging services, — including Airbnb — are offering fee waivers and refunds for eligible travelers wishing to change plans.

Check with your airline or accommodations to see what their policy is regarding rescheduling or canceling vacation plans.


If you do plan to stick to your spring break plan, make sure you take the necessary safety precautions – keep your hands washed, avoid touching your face, nose and mouth, and practice social distancing. If traveling by plane, carry alcohol-based wipes and sanitize all high-volume touch areas such as armrests, tray tables, seatbelts and call buttons.

Be prepared for the possibility that someone on the plane tests positive – which potentially could interrupt your vacation plans either at your destination or on the return flight. To prepare, pack extra clothing and medications in case of emergency or quarantine.


Wipe the remote, and 9 other tips for a clean, safe and relaxing hotel stay

Be wary of drinking glasses, and don’t put your luggage on the bed if you want to avoid bed bugs


Don’t assume that just because hotel is super posh it won’t have bed bugs. Image: iStock

Irish Times |by Geoffrey Morrison | August 14, 2019

I’ve lost count how many hotels I’ve stayed in. Hundreds, for sure, and on every continent except Antarctica. From beach-side resorts in St Kitts in the Caribbean, to a grand, soaring high-rise in Tokyo, to a castle-adjacent treehouse on the north coast of Scotland, I’ve stayed in some truly lovely places. I’ve also stayed at dilapidated dives in Vegas with rusty taps and rugs so thin you could see the concrete underneath. The memory of the latter still makes me itch.

Over the years I’ve come up with a set of tips and tricks I use in every hotel, from 5-star to wear-your-shoes-in-the-bathroom-star. They range from a little peace of mind and a reduction of annoyance to maintaining a bit of safety and health while travelling. Starting with …

1. The remote is gross
What is touched by everyone but rarely cleaned? A quick swipe with some baby wipes or a damp (not wet) hand towel should help a bit.

2. 20°C is 68°F
Need to set the thermostat in your room? Twenty degrees Celsius is equal to 68°F – a good place to start.

3. Be skeptical of drinking glasses, especially if the hotel lacks a restaurant
Generally, drinking glasses are cleaned after every guest. Generally. If there’s no on-site restaurant, though, how are they cleaned? By hand presumably, but how well? Give them a rinse and a sniff, at least.

4. Don’t put your luggage on the bed
Bed bugs are gross little vampires. Like mosquitoes, but worse. Putting your luggage on the bed can give them a free ride to your next location … like your house. The luggage rack might not be a good option either, since it’s usually close to the bed. Your best bet is to put your luggage in the bathroom and then give the bed, rack, and chair/sofa a close look. Also, don’t assume that just because hotel is super posh it won’t have bed bugs. They might have more means to get rid of the problem, but it can happen anywhere.

5. Bring long cables for your phone
As the number of devices needing to charge increases, the number of outlets available in hotel rooms … stays the same. I’ve stayed in new hotels with zero easily-accessible plugs. Mind blowing. In most airports you can pick up long USB cables so you can plug in and still, hopefully, use your phone from the bed. Travel power strips are handy for plugging multiple devices into that one outlet you found behind the bed.

6. Yes, you can take the little shampoo bottles. No, you can’t take the robe
Some hotels give the remaining soaps to charities like Clean the World. It’s worth checking if they do, as perhaps that’s a better use of the remaining soap than getting lost in your luggage or forgotten in your home medicine cabinet. Many hotels are moving toward large-bottle dispensers, both as a cost- and Earth-saving measure.

7. Lock, latch, and put out the do not disturb sign
Housekeeping comes early. Exactly 100 per cent of the time I’ve wanted to sleep in and forgot to put out the sign, housekeeping wakes me up. In how many languages do you know how to say “come back later, please?” For me, when woken from a deep slumber, a croaky none.

Enabling the safety latch also lets you open the door to see if it really is management knocking while preventing said knocker from unexpectedly opening the door fully. Exceptionally unlikely, sure, but why take the chance?

8. Take a picture of the safe code
Even if you just use your birthday or something memorable in the moment, take a picture of the number you program into the safe.

9. Laundry is expensive
I travel for months at a time. I do laundry about once a week. At an expensive laundromat in Paris I paid €7 for a load of all my clothes. While trapped at a hotel in Fiji during a typhoon I paid $10 for each pair of underwear.

You should definitely pack light enough that you’ll need to do laundry on any trip longer than a week. Some hotels, and nearly all hostels, have inexpensive laundry facilities on-site or nearby. The staff will usually help you find a place. There’s always washing in the sink too, which is free if you have the time.

10. And lastly … Stay in a hostel instead
I’ve spent the majority of nights during my extended travels of the last five years in hostels. Hotels can be great, but they’re invariably expensive. Hostels probably aren’t what you think, and can be a great way to save money and meet new people.

– New York Times

Family’s stay in Spain marred by bed bug accusation – they fight Airbnb bed bug claim

September 2, 2015 | by John Croman, KARE

MINNEAPOLIS — A Twin Cities family’s vacation to Spain took a bizarre turn when their host leveled a troubling accusation.

Debra and Joe Gartner were accused of causing a bed bug infestation at the home they stayed at in Seville for three nights in early August, and at one point were told they’d have to pay for the extermination treatment.


“I got a message from her from her saying she was convinced someone in our party had infested her house with bed bugs,” Debra Gartner told KARE.

“She said she stayed in the same bed the day we left, and that she woke up the next morning with hundreds of insect bites all over her body.”

The Gartners had booked the room through the Airbnb website, so they followed the dispute resolution process set up for guests and hosts on that site.

“She kept wanting me to admit to having bites. I said we didn’t have any issues at all. I would’ve notified them, I would’ve let them know if that had happened.”

On August 26 the Gartners received a message from Airbnb staff saying they weren’t responsible for the cost of exterminating the bed bugs because it’s beyond their control. Airbnb also offered a $125 voucher for their troubles.

“They gave us a gift voucher and said we could use it on anything we wanted. Great! I thought I could stop thinking about it, that we were done with it.”

But on August 30 a different Airbnb representative wrote to say the Gartners would have to forfeit their $562 security deposit, because of their host’s cost of exterminating the bed bugs.

“How do I defend myself? I’m here and she’s there!” Gartner exclaimed. “If I had damaged something in her home I most definitely would’ve replaced whatever it was. But how do you prove you didn’t bring bed bugs? How do you prove a negative?”

Gartner contacted KARE because she was frustrated with the process, and wanted a chance to defend her position with Airbnb.

Within minutes of being contacted by KARE, an Airbnb spokesman called to say that there had been a misunderstanding.

“We’ve issued a full refund to these guests,” Jakob Kerr of Airbnb said. “Our team will be reaching out to them to apologize for any inconvenience.”

Kerr said he wouldn’t be able to offer a more detailed explanation of the conflicting messages Tuesday evening because he had just been made aware of the situation.

There are 1.5 million properties currently listed by Airbnb, a website that allows guests and hosts to deal directly with one another after submitting personal profiles and being approved.

Since the San Francisco based company launched the site 50 million guests have used to service to make accommodations.

Dan Hendrickson of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota told KARE that Airbnb has an A-plus rating from BBB of San Francisco.

“They’ve had some complaints, but they’ve done a good job of taking care of disputes that have come their way,” Hendrickson explained.

Debra Gartner said she heard from the company Tuesday night after KARE made inquiries. She said she’s fairly certain that the TV station’s involvement expedited the process of getting her issue resolved.


This Bug Is Giving People the “Kiss” of Death

Kissing Bugs…Love Bugs…Bedbugs

all transmit Chagas disease

Good Housekeeping | November 19, 2015 | By Asher Fogle

Kissing bugs are every bit as invasive and icky as the name implies: They often bite human faces and lips at night, leaving behind a parasite that causes Chagas disease. Now, there are at least a dozen people infected in Texas, and experts predict that number to rise.

The bugs, a species of triatomine, are found throughout the state and most carry the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi — described by researchers as a silent killer.


Chagas disease, typically found in the tropics, first appears with flu-like symptoms. It then progresses to a chronic phase, where 30% of people develop heart issues and 10% experience gastrointestinal problems. In rare cases, Chagas leads to death. But a person could be infected for years and not know until more serious symptoms set in.​

“I’ve never left the United States. I’ve never even been on a cruise,” Candace Stark, a LaGrange, Texas, woman who learned she had Chagas in 2013, told NBC 5. A month after she had donated blood, the bank sent her a letter that said their routine screening found Trypanosoma cruzi in her blood. And a second test from the CDC confirmed she had the parasite in her body.

“I was scared,” she said. “I was really scared, because everything I read about it was about your heart and what it would do to you.”

No approved Chagas vaccine or cure exists. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only have experimental drugs, which are reportedly only 85% effective and must be taken shortly after infection.

To infect someone, kssing bugs leave feces near a bite, which itches. When it’s scratched, the feces are driven under the skin and into the bloodstream. Stark couldn’t remember being bitten. But months after her diagnosis, she found a kissing bug in the closet of her parents’ ranch. Texas A&M researchers confirmed it contained the parasite.

And Baylor Medical Schools researchers have found that most of the kissing bugs in Texas also contain the parasite. Even worse: The majority of bugs tested in the lab had human blood in their system — meaning they had already potentially infected people.

Though kissing bugs have been present in the region for decades, researchers say more people are encountering them as once-rural land is developed into suburbs. People who live near wooded areas are at higher risk, NBC 5 reports. Experts recommend that you avoid stacking wood near your house and ensure there are no places where small animals can nest because they attract the bugs.

Though no other outbreaks have been found, kissing bugs are also commonly found in New Mexico, Arizona, and California. And Chagas infections were reported in California, Louisiana, and Tennessee.

Health officials suggest you contact your doctor and the state health department if you find kissing bugs in your home or suspect you have been bitten.

This bug could give you the ‘kiss’ of death

Misstated info on Video 1.5 Million in US infected CHAGAS & 50 million World Wide with 15 to 20,000 deaths annually.

Nov. 19 Video transcript provided by

Texas health officials say “kissing bugs” have infected at least 12 people with a parasite that has the potential to kill.

“I’ve never left the United States. I’ve never even been on a cruise,” a woman told KXAS.


Video still via Newsy

“I was infected right here in Texas.”

Kissing bugs get their nickname because they favor biting human faces and lips at night. The parasite they leave behind causes Chagas disease. The bugs and parasite are usually only found in the tropics.

The disease has an acute phase much like the flu to start. Then it transitions into a chronic phase, during which up to 30 percent of people develop heart problems and 10 percent develop gastrointestinal issues.

In rare cases, Chagas disease can end in death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 8 million people in Mexico and Central and South America are infected with Chagas disease, yet most don’t even know it.

There’s no approved treatment for the disease. The CDC only has experimental drugs, which reportedly can be up to 85 percent effective, but they have to be taken soon after a person is infected.

Most counties in Texas have reported kissing bug sightings. (Video via KXAS)

KXAS reports the rise in infections is likely due to the growth of suburbs on land infested with the bugs rather than the bugs coming into the state.

This video includes images from Glenn Seplak / CC BY 2.0 and Simon Fraser University – University Communications / CC BY 2.0.

Woman ‘ravaged’ by bed bugs at luxury hotel four years ago STILL suffers from shocking skin condition

July 7, 2015 | By:  Jess Galley | MirrorOnline

This is the shocking condition a woman has been left in after she was ravaged by bed bugs while on a romantic getaway FOUR YEARS ago.

Jessica Mann still suffers from skin conditions despite the original incident happening in May 2011 on a break with her ex-partner.

The 24-year-old, from Manchester, received a five-figure payout after being bitten so badly on the trip to the Dominican Republic that she was left with peeling, dry and broken skin.

At the time she stayed with then boyfriend Aaron Rigby at the Sirensis Cocotal Hotel, in Punta Cana, but after just a few days the young couple started to break out in painful rashes and blisters.

Jessica suffers from skin condition Pompholyx, which leaves the skin on her hands and feet sensitive, peeling and dry.

But since the ordeal her symptoms have significantly worsened and Jessica – who is an aircraft co-ordinator at Manchester Airport – is still suffering pain and discomfort.

Now specialist illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have secured payouts for the pair from tour operator Thomas Cook – despite the firm denying liability.

Mercury Press
Attack: Aaron Rigby, Jessica’s then boyfriend, was badly bitten by bed bugs on holiday

Jessica said: “I had never been on a long-haul holiday before and the trip was meant to be a special break for both of us – instead, it was a very frightening experience and I just wanted to go home.

“When you go on holiday you just never expect in a million years to suffer these issues.

“And now I have no choice but to live with my condition which seems to have been made worse by the holiday. It is immensely frustrating.

“It was supposed to be a memorable break but looking back now, I just wish we’d never gone.”

Both Jessica and now-ex Aaron required medical treatment for the rashes and sought advice from the sit doctor at the resort, with Aaron being given medication.

But after returning home Jessica needed a whole month off work to recover from the severe blistering.

They were both then treated at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport for the large, irritable red blisters, which burst, and prescribed painkillers, steroids and creams.

Clare Pearson, from Irwin Mitchell, represents the holidaymakers. She said: “This is a terrible situation in which our clients have developed extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing conditions during what was meant to be a relaxing holiday.

“Sadly such cases are not uncommon and while nothing can be done to reverse the problems Jessica and Aaron have faced.

Mercury Press
Relaxing: Jessica Mann had hoped to have the time of her life at the Sirensis Cocotal Hotel Resort

“We hope that the settlements will go some way towards helping them to take steps to put these issues behind them.

“Their story is an important reminder that everything possible should be done to ensure the safety of holidaymakers always comes first.”

Jessica added: “Nothing can change what has happened but after securing this settlement we just want to put this ordeal behind us and move on.

“It was not just the rash that spoiled the holiday, there were lots of other things wrong with the hotel.

“There were lots of insects in our hotel room and the fridge and lights in our first hotel room were not working properly.

“When Aaron and I complained to both the Thomas Cook Representative and the staff at the hotel they did not seem to take our complaints very seriously and at times it felt like I was spending more time complaining than I was enjoying the holiday.”

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook UK & Ireland said: “We were sorry to hear about Ms Mann and Mr Rigby’s experience while on holiday at the Sirenis Cocotal in the Dominican Republic in 2011.”

“Thomas Cook closely audits all the properties to which it operates to ensure that only the highest health and hygiene standards are maintained. We can confirm that the Sirenis Cocotal is no longer featured in our holiday programme.”

“It is never our intention to disappoint our customers. We are happy to say this matter has now been resolved to Ms Mann and Mr Rigby’s satisfaction, and that we have reached an agreement with their legal representatives.”


How to avoid bedbugs while traveling

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Are you scared of bedbugs? Do they make you afraid to travel and spend the night in a hotel?

The latest infestations involve the Columbus area, which pest-control company Terminix lists as the seventh-most infested city in the nation. And in the Cleveland suburbs, bedbugs have been found in four Parma schools this year.

The bedbug problem is not just seen at hotels, but rather anywhere that people infested may travel or live.

“Hotels are not the big problems anymore,” said Brad Grace of Grace Exterminating. “It’s more in housing — multi-family housing and low-income housing.”

Hotels cleaned up their act, not wanting the stigma of having bed bugs, he said.

People who have been around the critters find out quickly how bad they bite.

“At first, it doesn’t even bother you. Then, you start itching, and then it can really drive people crazy, because it’s very irritating,” Youngstown Health Commissioner Erin Bishop said.

Brad Grace said, for a one bedroom apartment, it can cost approximately $900 to $2,000 to get rid of bedbugs. Grace has special equipment which burns the bugs by heating them up to more than 135 degrees.

“Heat is 100 percent effective in killing bedbugs, baby bedbugs, even eggs,” said Grace.

If bedbugs still make you afraid to stay in a hotel, here are some things you can do:

  • Put your luggage in the bathroom or on a hard surface, such as a desk or dresser.
  • Don’t leave your clothes out where bugs can crawl into them.
  • Check the bed by pulling off the linens and looking under the mattress and behind bedposts.

Travelers – Don’t Bring Them (BED BUGS) Home

July 2015

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) — A local Cedar Rapids apartment complex has reportedly run into a bed bug problem, but they aren’t the only one. The tiny bugs are making their way around Linn County and other areas in the world.

Bed bugs are an insect, Ruby Perin from the Linn County Public Health Department, said. They’re flat and oval, they kind of look like an apple seed and they feed on the blood of humans.  Perin said the hitchhikers can sometimes be found in hotels, but can catch a ride into your home by way of clothes or luggage.

During heavy travel seasons, its best to inspect your hotel bed and couches before settling into your room.  Once you get home from an overnight stay, Perin said one of the first things you should do is wash all your things.  As far as inspection, there are no special tools needed; just use your eyes. Look for black spots on your floor boards, which is their fecal matter, and also check the seams of your mattress for the actual bugs or their exoskeletons and the back of your headboard.

WestPoint Home, powered by KiltronX:  The Battle of The Bug

August 27, 2015

 “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” It’s a phrase most of us grew up with. Maybe you heard it from your parents, as they tucked you in. For years, most of us were also blissfully unaware of what a bed bug actually was. That’s because we were living in a golden age as far as bed bug problems are concerned.

According to some sources, bed bugs predate humans and evidence even suggests we have been battling the bug for millennia. Then in the 1940s we got some help. Perhaps for the worse, it came in the form of DDT, a pesticide used to combat insect-borne diseases like malaria and typhus. DDT also proved to be highly effective against bed bugs and we hardly caught sight of the critters for nearly 30 years.

Today, they’re officially back and many in heavily populated areas worldwide are not sleeping tight at all. A 2013 survey of pest control professionals conducted by the National Pest Management Association found that 99 percent of respondents had encountered bed bug infestations in the prior year. Over the last decade we have seen a staggering surge in the population of the pests.

Ever the opportunists, they spread rapidly, hitching rides along with unsuspecting travelers. As anyone who has encountered a bed bug infestation can attest to, they are notoriously difficult to eradicate. They multiply rapidly, with a single pregnant female potentially producing more than 5,000 bed bugs within a six-month period! They hide in seams, mattresses and dark corners, coming out only at night to feed. You likely won’t feel them or see them though, as they inject a dose of anesthesia along with their bite to avoid the vengeance of a woken victim. Intense itching, lesions and allergic skin reactions will likely follow.

Okay, is your skin crawling yet? Here’s the good news: We have a five-step action plan to help you reclaim your life if bed bugs have crawled into it.

1.       Identify the enemy

The first step is to confirm that you are, in fact, dealing with bed bugs. Early detection is critical to preventing more costly treatment down the road. Bed bugs hide away during daylight hours (and scurry away rapidly if you shine a light at night), so if you spot more than a few you are likely dealing with an advanced infestation.  They’re small; about the size of an apple seed and reddish brown in color. If you do capture a bug, place it in a plastic bag or glass bottle for closer inspection. The adult is broadly oval, flat and wingless.

Bed bug droppings are a tell-tale sign of an infestation. They usually consist of a cluster of dark spots in one area. Look for black residue along the seams of your mattress and on your bedding.

2.       Eliminate clutter

If you suspect you have an infestation, it’s time to start your elimination plan. Bed bugs love to steal away in nooks, crannies and crevices. Reduce their hiding spots by getting rid of any unnecessary clutter. Remove, vacuum and bag any personal items like soft toys, stuffed animals, shoes, bags and knick-knacks.

3.       Treat living areas

Bed bugs are resilient and difficult to kill. There are few products on the market that can destroy them effectively. We like the lineup of products from Live Free both for their strength and safety. The company offers an array of tools that use a toxic-free, plate-based powder to essentially pull the bug apart at the skeletal level. They make for a potent barrier system around the house and offer protection for couch cushions, furniture legs, cabinets, cracks and corners.

4.       Launder regularly

While washing alone won’t eliminate bed bugs, a dryer goes a long way toward killing them off. They don’t like high heat. To finish the job, though, you’ll need an added weapon. Treated dryer sheets like this one disperse a non-toxic powder throughout the dryer that’s formulated to attacks bugs. Be sure to regularly wash all bedding and clothes with treated dryer sheets on high heat.

5.       Prevent future infestation

Once you’ve returned your home to a bug free sanctuary, there are a few steps you can take to minimize future risk. Invest in treated mattress and box spring encasements, which not only protect your bed from migrating bed bugs, but also actively kill them.

Bed bugs are also great travelers and are happy to take a ride home with you in your luggage. Protect yourself by doing a visual inspection of your hotel bed. Examine the mattress, box spring, edges of the headboard and sheets for signs of bed bug droppings or the bugs themselves. Be sure to keep your luggage on a luggage rack and never on the floor or bed.

If you do suspect that you’ve been exposed to bed bugs, launder all your clothing with treated dryer strips, bag personal belonging and consider treating your home with a bed bug response kit.

Finally, remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Dealing with a bed bug infestation can be an extraordinarily frustrating and uncomfortable ordeal. We hope you never have to encounter it. But if you do, we will have you armed for the battle.