Earlier this week, USA Today published a report detailing several harrowing accounts from tourists who had contracted COVID-19 during their stays in Mexico, leading to mandated quarantine at their respective resorts. In every case, the tourists expressed shock and regret upon testing positive prior to the conclusion of their vacation. All were ultimately forced to extend their trip for the duration of their quarantine, sans their partners and travel companions, and wait for negative tests before returning to the U.S. — a result of a federal requirement effective January 26, 2021.
One such ill-fated tourist, according to the report, tested positive after having spent their days zip-lining, swimming in caves at an adventure park and relaxing at their resort, El Dorado Casitas Royale by Karisma, and just before meeting up with friends who were also, coincidentally, vacationing in Mexico — as one does during a global pandemic.
“That can’t be right because I felt fine, no symptoms,” he recalled thinking after receiving his results. “We had been being, I thought, pretty careful.”
Of course, the phrase “pretty careful” within this particular context is … relative. With 127 million global cases of COVID confirmed over the past year and unrelenting advisement from the CDC to avoid all unnecessary travel, we can’t help but wonder — is a vacation to Mexico “pretty careful?” And after innumerable personal testimonies and a dizzying amount of publicly-available data supporting the increased risk of infection during travel, does anyone still really reserve the right to be shocked after testing positive in Mexico?
We tend to think not.
Now this is not meant to travel shame, something we’ve spoken out against previously. The fact is, the decision to travel is still — a year later — extremely personal, from both a political and moral standpoint. Restrictions are beginning to loosen, particularly with vaccine distribution ramping up, and we’ve all been in various stages of lockdown for the better part of the past year. Pandemic fatigue coupled with the desire to travel can be overwhelming — particularly if, like a few of the couples in the USA Today story, you’re determined to celebrate your already-postponed honeymoon.
But if you’re traveling sans antibodies and in advance of receiving the jab, you have to be prepared for potential ramifications. We are all now well versed in the risks by now, and if you contract the virus, you should probably feel some combination of regret, remorse, dismay, annoyance, guilt, accountability, contrition and carelessness. Shock, however? No one’s buying that.
It’s also worth noting that there are far worse places to quarantine than a hotel room with a balcony at the El Dorado Casitas Royale, and while the prospect of being “detained” abroad is certainly a nerve-racking prospect, it’s a little tone deaf to suggest it amounts to more than a very comfortable inconvenience. One tourist likened his departure from his quarantine at five-star, all-inclusive resort — the Pueblo Bonito Rose in Cabo San Lucas — to a release from prison, saying, “It was like [The] Shawshank Redemption. I put my hands in the air, ‘Hallelujah, I’m home.’”
Try a 600-square-foot one-bedroom in Jersey City with a decrepit fire escape in lieu of a balcony in 30-degree weather. Or, you know, actual prison.
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