By Erin Hassanzadeh

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Minnesotans are just returning home after spending the winter down south. But as the snowbirds make their way back, should they be worried about bringing COVID-19 with them?

Mallory Maki’s parents, Mary and Jerry Kratz, are in Corpus Christi, Texas. After a balmy winter on the beach, the plan was to return home to Litchfield, Minnesota weeks ago.

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“They’re just kind of concerned, like, should they stay where they are right now or is it best to try to come home?” Maki said. “Especially with this shelter in place, they just didn’t know if traveling where they could stop, if they were going to be pulled over even.”

To make it back, her parents will have to drive their RV across the United States.

“Obviously, she’s ready to come home, she misses her family, but just wants to be safe in the meantime,” Maki said.

Dr. Cindy Firkins Smith recommends that snowbirds self-quarantine for two weeks after returning home, even if they’re feeling fine and have already been isolating.

“You need to be safe when you get here as well,” Firkins Smith said. “It would be tragic if you greeted your grandchildren, or went out in public, or went to the grocery store, or maybe celebrated Easter and infected someone, and they had a very bad outcome.”

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Firkins Smith says it’s not a bad idea to return in time for a beautiful Minnesota spring, but logistics will be tricky. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently does recommend that people who are high risk for bad outcomes from COVID-19 avoid air travel. Driving poses different exposure possibilities.

“You still have to get out of the car to use restrooms, you have to get gas, most people don’t want to travel straight through,” Firkins Smith said.

Maki’s parents plan to drive home this week and isolate at home.

“Hopefully soon I’ll be able to see them,” Maki said.’

But the bottom line?

“The current CDC advice is to basically be careful,” Firkins Smith said.

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Erin Hassanzadeh