Visiting Overseas Family During Covid

My father has had cancer a few times since at least 1996 and has been in somewhat rapidly deteriorating health in the last two years as he’s had one kidney and a large part of the other removed. My mother has begged me to come back to the US for the holidays this year to see him, and though I am reluctant and worried about the Wuhan Flu, my wife just bought tickets for me and my young kids. There are some other factors which also push me back to the US, like the mental health of my mother-in-law.

Anyway, I don’t really have a question about this; I am just feeling conflicted and wanted to share.


It’s tough. It’s especially tough for us foreigners here in Taiwan with the bittersweet decision to stay in the relative comfort of Taiwan’s relative normality or face the unknown. I haven’t been back yet even though I visit a couple times a year. Nobody knows what to do and I don’t have much more to say but good luck in your decision.

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Hope it all works out.

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Thanks. I have been balking at making a decision and finally my wife stepped up and made one herself. I think she knows this is what I want to do despite my fears.


I live in an area of the U.S. that has been hard-hit by the coronavirus. Aside from the guidelines mentioned above, my wife and I get take-out instead of eating in restaurants (especially when going to visit my nearby parents), shop at off-hours to avoid crowds at Costco, and when we fly we pay more for seats where we’ll have more personal space. Since you’ll be visiting with lots of people you need to have a conversation with them first about what the protocol will be for managing seating and space where you’ll meet. You need to be ready to broach the subject if they won’t. It sounds rather cold and clinical, but to avoid awkwardness and confusion (especially for your parents and your kids) and protect everyone’s health you also have to decide ahead of time what physical contact is acceptable.

I’m sorry to hear that M.

If you go back, stay home and be extra careful depending on where you live. I once got a pizza delivered took it out of the box and then threw the box into the garage in about ten seconds.

No movies, no restaurants, no large crowds and when in small crowds or at the store you mostly have to wear masks anyway.

Again, sorry to hear that. I’m in a similar boat.

Have a similar problem, though there are no immediate needs for me to go back, my mom is in her mid-70’s and it will be a year at Christmas since I’ve seen her. At this point I’m more worried about her mental vs. physical health, but who knows when that might turn.

I thought about going back at Christmas, but feel I’d just be introducing risk to her at this point and has hard as it is, I’m going to stay put and evaluate again in the Spring. I know I should consider myself lucky compared to what others are and have been going through, but its still hard. Safe travels OP.

Honestly catching COVID here is probably a very low risk but once there you will have to be extra careful about social distancing and washing your hands, masks, etc. and stay away from large gatherings (and this probably means no visiting bars).

The only hassle will be the 14 day quarantine upon return.

Yeah, my hometown doesn’t have bars and I’m a middle aged, married man with kids. There’s no reason to go to a bar.

My concern is mostly for: 1. My parents, but they’ve assumed the risks and want me to go; 2. Taiwan…I don’t want to be the evil big nose who infects the island. More realistically I don’t want to get stranded in the US.

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If you have an ARC you will be fine.

However follow the quarantine rules to the letter. If you do turn out to become infected then seek medical attention and do not come into contact with anyone else until you are well.

My only concern is medical resources in small town America tends to be somewhat limited, and if you do end up sick their ICU beds could be full.

You can be as careful as possible but I’m not sure that’s enough, it has nothing to do with Taiwan or quarantining on either end. It relies on everyone whom you may cross paths with from point A to point B doing the same, at minimum. I have no faith in that. My mom has been very disciplined and so far and has not gotten sick. I would feel terrible to be the reason she got sick, or even worse, developed complications simply because of my guilt/worry.

Taiwan kept covid out with swift government reaction. China kept it from taking over the country with draconian lock down. America is unwilling to do any of this.

Only realistic way is stay away from everyone during your trip. But if you’re just going to see your family on Skype then flying is just unnecessary risk and expense.

Sorry to burst your bubbles but don’t count on possible vaccines to turn stuff around. I have friends who caught covid upon return to the states.

I would bring a box of masks though…

It’s tough. My dad’s 80, but fit as a flea. My mum’s 78 and has serious heart problems. I haven’t seen them for almost 2 years now.

It sucks.