One of Buffalo’s nicknames is “The City of Good Neighbors”. And key ways to be a good neighbor are to take care of each other when in need, and to make sure our own actions don’t harm others.

Travel, especially international travel, is risky when it comes to illness. Not only are we going to be exposed to many germs, but we run the risk of bringing germs from a place where they are prevalent to places where they are not. (Ask me about the time I developed full-blown malaria at ICLS2008 in Maastricht after visiting the rural Himalayas!)

Many of us have fallen into routines around protecting ourselves in our home environment when it comes to COVID-19. But regardless of what makes sense in our day-to-day life, I’d encourage everyone to think about taking some extra protection in order to be a good neighbor when coming to Buffalo.

During the annual meeting we will be taking whatever precautions are recommended or enforced by our governmental health authorities at the time (in our case, that means the Erie County Department of Health, New York State, and the US Centers for Disease Control). We’ll provide everyone with an N95/KN95 mask for the week when you register (at the moment, mask wearing is recommended but not required for gatherings like ours), and we will have a substantial number of rapid COVID tests if you would like one courtesy of the local health authorities. Our region is currently considered low risk for covid. If you would like more sensitive metrics, our state conducts wasterwater monitoring; for more specificity, select Erie County and Bird Island STP.)

Research shows that long plane flights lead to greatly increased risk of infection (25x!), and mask wearing blocks this risk. We recommend you wear a good mask (ideally an N95, KN95, or similar mask) while traveling to and from Buffalo, especially in crowded settings. Consider testing for COVID-19 if you feel at all ill (many cases of COVID at this point are contagious but are asymptomatic). International visitors whose home healthcare systems will not cover the full cost of US healthcare when traveling are strongly encouraged to get travel health insurance; this type of insurance is not intended to cover things like cancelled tickets or hotel penalties if you get ill, but the actual costs of seeing doctors and receiving treatment. Healthcare costs in the US can be astronomical, and foreign visitors are not eligible for any government coverage. And although the US no longer requires proof of vaccination for international visitors, we encourage everyone to stay up to date on COVID, flu, and other vaccines and boosters. Staying healthy by taking your vaccines, wearing a mask (and washing hands) in transit, and (if needed) taking temporary health insurance helps not only you, but everyone in our community.