COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic: Amtrak-related Discussion

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fillyjonk

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
476
I have a trip in March (in a sleeper, but I get on mid-route) and I don't even know. My mom, who I am going to see, is in her early 80s. I assume if *I* got the virus, I'd probably recover, but given her age, I am not so sure she would. I don't want to carry it to her.

Has there been ANY research definitively showing if any kind of sterilizer wipes help? I would not be averse to cleaning the hard surfaces in my roomette MYSELF but I'm not gonna lug a tub of wipes along if they do nothing against viruses. I know deactivating a virus (which is technically not alive) is harder than killing a bacterium in many cases.

I am a biologist but I am an ecologist. I generally don't worry about "ambient" bacteria because 90% of them are harmless to humans, but viruses freak me out a little.

I still might cancel my trip, I don't know. Next time I could make it up would be May, after the semester ends.

The thing for me: I have a really hard time with uncertainty and knowing if I am doing the "right" thing. Add on the overlay of still mourning my dad and (a) wanting to spend as much time as I have left possible with my mom and (b) worrying about "what if I pick up the virus and infect her?"
 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
717
Sleepers are better than coach travel for this issue, but you are assuming your room was thoroughly sterilized the last occupancy. I'm not sure that's the case during hectic turnarounds. Almost impossible when a room is vacated mid-route.
Sometimes just before we detrain, I will take a flashlight and look under the seats in our roomette to be sure we haven't forgotten something. When you look under the seat with a flashlight, the sight is not encouraging.

Also when going into our viewliner roomette at the start of a trip I have found clothing in the overhead storage space left by a previous occupant. That is not encouraging either (well especially when it doesn't fit).

I doubt that "thoroughly sterilized" is in the Amtrak vocabulary.
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
510
Enjoy your trip. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touch your face, mouth, nose. Carry a small alcohol hand sanitizers, Amtrak bathroom fixtures are a pain. Use a paper towel when touch the flush buttons, door handles.

This bug is easy to catch, but not very deadly. It’s not time to panic, it time to think, and plan.

Family care plan.
Work at home plan.
Alternative Children’s care.
Alternative Pet care plan.

Extra supplies, to avoid going shopping.
Your favorite sick foods. Such as soup, and drinks to keep yourself hydrated.
Pet foods, and cat litter.

If your ready for a zombie outbreak your ready for a earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or a flu bug like Coronavirus it’s all the same.

Enjoy your trip, don’t panic.
I have a cruise at the end of April, air travel in the US end of June and Amtrak early September. I will simply evaluate as needed. I have cancel for any reason travel insurance which at least covers 75% of my costs.

As far as home supplies the basic 14 days doesnt get it done at all. If your area has an outbreak and you have 14 days of food etc then what? The outbreak most likely will be much greater after that period and off to the store we all go. Ugh. Im cautiously optimistic however that we will get thru this. Ive been thru an earthquake, tornadoes and 5 hurricanes so im decent at long term prep.

Hoping everyone gets to do their train trips!
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
628
Venice cancelled this year's Carnival, which is a huge deal for Venice. Italy is taking this seriously. Here is hoping they get a handle on it soon.

I have already gotten notices about a couple of professional gatherings being postponed (mostly international events.)

The college where I work is deciding today whether to cancel the spring study-abroad experience in Venice (and probably will.)
 

flitcraft

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
476
Cruises are probably the best reason to get 'cancel for any reason' insurance, since historically they've been much tighter than airlines in allowing refunds due to instability, safety concerns, etc. Though, the Diamond Princess situation must be causing some concerns for the cruise companies--if someone tried to cancel, but was denied, and then ended up on one of the quarantined cruiseships where eventually many of the passengers were infected, I can see a PR nightmare for the cruiseline, not to mention the possibility of legal action. That's one of those situations where a tight cancellation policy could literally become a "bet the company" policy.

Airlines have thus far been more reasonable--Cathay Pacific was allowing no-fee cancellation and full refunds for longhaul flights even before many of the Chinese connecting flights were cancelled. The PR hit that airlines take for being hard-nosed isn't worth it--just ask United Airlines!

Amtrak hasn't had to deal with this kind of situation before--but my guess would be that they'd end up more like the airlines than the cruiselines. Screwing over passengers and/or insisting that they be potentially exposed to a deadly virus is the kind of Amtrak decision that would go viral in an instant, pun intended, and Congress is already primed to take Amtrak's management on.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,139
If the virus gets bad and you MUST travel on public transportation advise you carry a bottle of spray disinfectant
 

flitcraft

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
476
How will a bottle of spray disinfectant help? The people breathing, talking, coughing, and sneezing won't be affected in the least, though they are the primary vector of transmission. You might consider bringing a pack of those Clorox disinfectant wipes to wipe the handrail or straps if you are standing, and try to avoid touching other surfaces to the extent possible. But public transit cannot be made germ-free, unfortunately.
 

flitcraft

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
476
Incidentally, for years I have traveled with a pack of Clorox wipes, and before I sit in a plane seat, I wipe the tray table, the seat belt--especially the buckle--and the armrests by my seat. I'm probably too much of a germophobe, but given how many long flights I have to take, it gives me comfort to know that I'm reducing the odds of catching something.
 

pianocat

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Messages
410
Incidentally, for years I have traveled with a pack of Clorox wipes, and before I sit in a plane seat, I wipe the tray table, the seat belt--especially the buckle--and the armrests by my seat. I'm probably too much of a germophobe, but given how many long flights I have to take, it gives me comfort to know that I'm reducing the odds of catching something.
Oh, trust me I have a ton of antiseptic wipes at the ready for ALL surfaces. I had no idea this topic was repeated in other places, forgive my ignorance as I only re-joined the group a few days ago. I suppose all info is good info, though.
Here’s the way I see it tonight...and of course this could change as things change in this country [USA], but I will keep the trip. The problem seems to be that accurate test kits aren’t widely available in this country, like South Korea. So, of course, we may have a helluva lot more cases than we realize here in our own back yards. Is there a precedent for Amtrak granting refunds to pax who might be exposed to a pandemic by riding their trains? Or is this something so new to them that they just don’t know how to handle it? At very min I know I can modify my trip. And please note, I’m not saying a pandemic is coming. For my own plans, I’m trying to cover all my bases. And to the people who think I’m being too dramatic - please know, this is NOT kid’s play. It’s real, and it’s here and we have to deal with it. Don’t listen to tweets, listen to to CDC.Gov.
 

chakk

Conductor
Joined
May 26, 2011
Messages
2,555
Not sure if I'm naive or simply not well informed on all the facts. Speaking strictly about travel in the USA (especially in a car or on a train) - I wouldn't think for even a second about changing plans. (We currently have a roundtrip New York to Chicago LSL sleeper booked for April.) Now flying over to Asia would be another story of course.

For the record I'm 60 years old and work in a kindergarten classroom. I take what I consider practical precautions, but I've yet to ever get a flu shot. I don't think I've ever had the flu in my life. Maybe I'm just a risk-taker. And a lucky one at that.

Personally I blame an awful lot of the worry on the ridiculous 24/7 news cycles that we have to deal with. I'm not talking about people who have pre-existing health conditions or older folks. I'm talking about the young healthy ones who still feel compelled to go out and buy a mask. I think the constant barrage of news stories helps build the hype. Sort of the same thing as grocery stores being wiped clean of milk and bread because the news keeps ranting on about an impending blizzard - which most of the time never materializes! Again, just my opinion. This is in no way a criticism of anyone who would decide to change their plans. We're all responsible for ourselves and can make our own decisions.
60 years old and no flu shot? You are taking a very big risk here in the USA! And even with a flu shot you still could get flu, but most likely with reduced symptoms. Don't risk it.
 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,567
So, here's what I understand:
Please understand that these things often overlap, but...

If you are healthy and under about 60-70, the case-fatality rate is about 0.2-0.4% (1 in 500 to 1 in 250). Most cases are basically a bad cold. However, this spikes if you're over that age or have any of a handful of conditions that make you susceptible. I remember that coronary disease and diabetes are on the list; I forget what else might be there. In those various cases, the case-fatality rate gets up to like 6-8%...but I also suspect that age is partly due to relative prevalence of those conditions among older people.

TL;DR: Treat like the flu, but with extra caution. At this point, it's probably gonna go around.
 

peteypablo

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Messages
21
I think we'll know within a month or two what we're dealing with. They're trying to contain it, but my bet is they're eventually going to have to abandon that strategy and adopt a treat and eventually vaccinate strategy. In the meantime, the greatest risk for healthy people is getting caught up in some kind of blockade - such as a cruise ship that is not welcome in any port because a crew member has a fever - or carrying the virus unawares to a compromised person.

That's the way I'm evaluating it now. I'm in a part of Italy that is so far free of the virus, and I'm staying put, but I think I'd go ahead with plans for a train trip elsewhere in Italy if I had them. I probably wouldn't book a cruise.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
628
I am 57 and have never had a flu shot. But on the flip side of the coin, I haven't had the flu since I was 15 or 16. Everybody is different. I am considering getting a flu shot every year once I hit 60 but I am not sure it would be all that useful.
60 years old and no flu shot? You are taking a very big risk here in the USA! And even with a flu shot you still could get flu, but most likely with reduced symptoms. Don't risk it.
 

RichieRich

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 2, 2016
Messages
290
I am 57 and have never had a flu shot. But on the flip side of the coin, I haven't had the flu since I was 15 or 16. Everybody is different. I am considering getting a flu shot every year once I hit 60 but I am not sure it would be all that useful.
72 and never had a flu shot, however, everyone I know who did get the shot - got sick!!! Have no plans to change my monthly AT trips.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
1,984
How will a bottle of spray disinfectant help? The people breathing, talking, coughing, and sneezing won't be affected in the least, though they are the primary vector of transmission. You might consider bringing a pack of those Clorox disinfectant wipes to wipe the handrail or straps if you are standing, and try to avoid touching other surfaces to the extent possible. But public transit cannot be made germ-free, unfortunately.
By the way, neither can traveling in a private car. If you're driving for any distance, you are going to have to stop to eat and use the rest room, both possible places where you can catch something.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,668
Depending on how long the virus survives suspended in air, one may be feeling more secure than one should while traveling in Sleeper. Afterall the same air is circulated in the entire car. Rooms in Sleepers do not have individual isolated air supply.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,423
Antiseptic sprays and wipes are mainly effective on hard nonporous surfaces. They won't be able to decontaminate cloth seats or carpeted walls such as those found on Amtrak.

72 and never had a flu shot, however, everyone I know who did get the shot - got sick!!! Have no plans to change my monthly AT trips.
Getting an influenza shot doesn't actually make you sick, but they can trigger an immune response that feels similar to an infection.
 

Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
423
I take Amtrak twice a week and have continued to do so. Like others have said, wash your hands a lot, carry hand sanitizer, if you use the restrooms or anything use a towel to touch the handles, etc. Not panicked yet, but if it spreads I may reconsider taking Amtrak for the short term...for now I'm not staying away. Also be careful in the train stations! All the same routine!
Also, when drying your hands, use paper towels instead of the air hand dryers. Studies have shown that the hand drying air blowers aerolize microbes. Here are 2 of the studies: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25237036 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29439992
Neither of these 2 enumerated viruses, but viruses are often associated with cells and thus the pattern could be similar.
 
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tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,061
Some advice about help from herbs: During cold-and-flu season, many people routinely take elderberry extract to bolster the body's ability to deal with upper-respiratory infection, and year-round astragalus is a general-purpose immune booster. Echinacea revs up immune response but is only effective taken for a few days at a time--best used for a day or two when you think you've been exposed to infection. Any of these are worth trying as protection against coronavirus (IMHO), since they're not pathogen-specific but rather support the body's response to infection.
 

Railroad Bill

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Staff member
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Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,536
We have a long distance Amtrak set of trips planned for late May. As of this date we have not planned to cancel. We both have heart issues that set up a different set of circumstances for travel. We have cancelled our cruise scheduled for May because we do not want to become part of a quarantined ship, whether we are sick or not. I would hope that Amtrak will adjust its cancellation policy if things get considerably worse.

We get our flu shots each year and have avoided major flu-like illnesses for many years. As a former school administrator, I encouraged our staff to get the flu shots to protect themselves and the students they are responsible for in their classrooms.

But on a train, you are always at the mercy of all the different people who travel, some sick and coughing and sneezing in the diner and lounge. As mom always said, "eat your veggies, get plenty of rest, and drink lots of water". Good advice for all.
 

Chey

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 27, 2014
Messages
475
Late 60s, I get a flu shot almost every year. I only got flu once after getting the shot, which did NOT sicken me - it was a year that they guessed the wrong flu strain and the shot wasn't very effective. But being the age I am, having diabetes, I don't count on luck.

I'm taking a points trip in May and hearing the corona virus may get decimated by warm weather. No plans to cancel so far.
 

Maglev

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Messages
907
I got sick on our last vacation (I did get a flu shot). My wife said I don't wash my hands enough and touch my face too much. On the last day of our eight in Hawaii, I was coughing with a fever and chills, and could not get out of bed. It rained that day (only) anyway. The next day, we flew to Los Angeles, and then got on the Coast Starlight to Seattle. I was still not feeling well, but was fine with traveling. However, I probably spread some unwelcome germs.
 

Suze10860

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 2, 2020
Messages
40
60 years old and no flu shot? You are taking a very big risk here in the USA! And even with a flu shot you still could get flu, but most likely with reduced symptoms. Don't risk it.
Gonna have to be honest, I have no intention of starting with flu shots unless something pretty drastic happens with my health.

First, and what I think is most important, I am the exact opposite of a germaphobe. I avoid those antibacterial hand sanitizers like the plague! Personally, I think they do more harm than good in the long run.

I wash my hands as often as I deem necessary. But even working in a kindergarten classroom with 5 and 6 year olds who simply cannot keep their fingers out of their mouths or their noses, I'm not crazy about it.

Maybe I'm just super lucky, but I feel that I've spent my entire life building up my own immunity, and so far it's worked quite well. And I raised my 2 now-grown children to also NOT be germaphobes and they're quite healthy as well.

Again, if the day comes when my immune system somehow becomes compromised, or maybe in another 10 or 15 years when I'm 70 or 75, I'll consider the flu shot, but for now I'm very comfortable not getting it.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
19,972
Gonna have to be honest, I have no intention of starting with flu shots unless something pretty drastic happens with my health.

First, and what I think is most important, I am the exact opposite of a germaphobe. I avoid those antibacterial hand sanitizers like the plague! Personally, I think they do more harm than good in the long run.

I wash my hands as often as I deem necessary. But even working in a kindergarten classroom with 5 and 6 year olds who simply cannot keep their fingers out of their mouths or their noses, I'm not crazy about it.

Maybe I'm just super lucky, but I feel that I've spent my entire life building up my own immunity, and so far it's worked quite well. And I raised my 2 now-grown children to also NOT be germaphobes and they're quite healthy as well.

Again, if the day comes when my immune system somehow becomes compromised, or maybe in another 10 or 15 years when I'm 70 or 75, I'll consider the flu shot, but for now I'm very comfortable not getting it.
When you do reach Senior Status your Immune System will be weakened and you'll want the Flu and Pnuemonia Shots, Trust me!!!( Just turned 76)
 
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