Mom Wonders If It’s ‘Crazy’ To Fly With Her Toddler During Coronavirus Outbreak To See BFF


Toddler on plane

In the last few weeks, the coronavirus that's sweeping China seems to be all anyone can think about, as questions over what it is and how it spreads continue to plague medical experts. It's also left many travelers with one looming question: Is it safe to fly? That's what one mom was left asking after her husband all but banned her from bringing their 2-year-old son on a recent flight to visit her BFF. She's not so sure his fears are warranted, and wrote in to Slate's "Care and Feeding" advice column looking for a little advice.

  • The anonymous mom said she was so excited to visit her best friend in Minnesota, until news of the coronavirus outbreak spread.

    The two women live far apart, which is why the mom was anxious to visit -- especially because the friend's daughter has a birthday coming up.

    "We rarely get to see each other in person, perhaps once or twice a year, and our children are only six months apart," she explained in her letter. 

    Having their kids spend time together was meant to be half the fun.

    "This was going to be a fun trip to catch up and have my son and her daughter get a chance to play and celebrate her 2nd birthday together," she continued.

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  • But according to the anonymous mom, her husband became "dead set" against the reunion.

    She says he's mostly freaked that she and their son will have to travel through a major city to get to Minnesota during the coronavirus outbreak, and the risks are just too much for him to take.

    "He says he’s terrified of us catching the virus and then dying," she explained. "He says we live in a rural area for a reason, and it is an unnecessary trip with high risks."

    Her husband pointed out that most like they'd be traveling through airports and traveling in highly densely populated areas, which would put them in contact with hundreds of people from all over the world.

  • The woman admitted that her husband's concerns have her rattled.

    She doesn't know how to weigh what her husband says against "an appropriate risk assessment."

    "Am I crazy for traveling with my 2-year-old right now?" she wrote. "Am I putting my son at unnecessary risk?"

    Her husband also told her that it was "selfish and unnecessary" to bring their son on her trip.

    "My husband would like him to stay home where it is safe and coronavirus free," she added. 

    Is he overreacting?

  • In the comments, people were quick to point out that her husband sounds like he doesn't have his facts straight.

    "All the hysterics is fun, but we should really be more concerned with the flu," one commenter wrote

    "The flu is still outdoing coronavirus in terms of lethality by leaps and bounds, and we know it's already in America (instead of spotty reports of maybe in some major cities)," another added. "The news coverage of coronavirus is making it out to be a huge crisis."

  • According to the experts, the naysayers may be right.

    Although the coronavirus may be demanding more headlines, there have actually been substantially more deaths from the flu in the Untied States than those linked to the new strain sweeping China. In fact, influenza kills between 12,000 and 61,000 people annually, epidemiologist Brandon Brown of the University of California at Riverside recently told NPR. And this year is on track to be one of the worst flu seasons yet. 

    Although we are still in the middle of flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated at least 19 million people have been diagnosed with the flu so far. Of those cases, 180,000 have been hospitalized and 10,000 have died.

  • As for the coronavirus, the numbers are certainly alarming -- if you live in China. 

    The BBC reported there have been 7,711 confirmed cases in the country as of January 29 and the death toll has reached 170 people -- and counting.

    Cases of the coronavirus have been found in at least 15 other countries, including six known cases in the United States, but there is still a lot to be learned about the coronavirus and how it's spread.

    ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton shared last week that experts aren't exactly sure how contagious the virus is, how it spreads, how long the incubation period is, or even how much of a threat the coronavirus truly is. Ashton also said that right now, the fatality rate is "hovering around 2 to 3 percent," though that number might get bigger.

  • Some commenters did agree with the husband, however.

    (Er, well, sort of.)

    "Lady, it's crazy to bring a toddler on any flight, period," one person wrote.

  • That's why advice columnist Nicole Cliffe had a compromise for the mom.

    Her answer was simple: Leave the little one at home and go hit the town in Minnesota without him.

    "You’ll have an easier visit with your best friend, your husband will feel that you have compromised with him (since he would rather you both stay home)," she explained, "and he’s the one who will have to do the actual work of the compromise: solo child care for a few days."

    As for whether her husband is overreacting? Cliffe admitted that it certainly seems so.

    "No one is telling rural Americans with normal immune systems to avoid domestic travel (as opposed to unnecessary travel to China) and stay at home," she argued. "The WHO’s advice on coronavirus is still just the basic advice of cold and flu season: wash your hands. That’s been the most important part of preventive medicine since we discovered that germ theory was real."

  • If the mom wants to avoid illness in general (and the flu in particular), then leaving her toddler at home isn't a bad idea.

    After all, we all know that there's no way to keep small kiddos from touching things and then putting their hands in their mouths, which means sanitizing can only get her so far.

    "I find flying with [a toddler] to be a nightmare despite being generally relaxed about the Petri dish that is recirculated airplane air and the filthy armrests," Cliffe wrote. 

    So even if her husband wasn't having a complete meltdown, it probably would be best not to shlep her son on a long flight in the middle of flu season.

    "For now? Leave the kid. Take the cannoli," Cliffe advised. (How's that for a new parenting motto?)

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