As the Holidays Approach and COVID Surges, California Issues a Travel Advisory

Governor Gavin Newsom and other West Coast leaders are urging against unnecessary out-of-state travel

As the number of COVID-19 cases in California surpasses one million, and L.A. County officially declaring a surge in infections, Governor Gavin Newsom has issued an advisory urging against non-essential out-of-state holiday travel this season, and asking visitors and returning Californians to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

“California just surpassed a sobering threshold—one million COVID cases—with no signs of the virus slowing down,” Newsom said in a statement Friday. “Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians. Travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, and we must all collectively increase our efforts at this time to keep the virus at bay and save lives.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Enslee have also signed on to the warning, which defines essential travel as travel for work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

Additionally, the advisory recommends that people interact only with members of their immediate household.

“COVID-19 does not stop at state lines. As hospitals across the West are stretched to capacity, we must take steps to ensure travelers are not bringing this disease home with them,” Brown said. “If you do not need to travel, you shouldn’t. This will be hard, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. But the best way to keep your family safe is to stay close to home.”

“We all need to act now,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a press briefing Thursday. “The actions we take today, tomorrow and next week have tremendous impact on the health and well-being of many, many people across the county. If, collectively, we fail to stop the acceleration of new cases, we will have no choice but to look at additional actions.”

Although Ferrer did not specify what those actions might be, retailers hoping for a holiday season uptick after a series of shutdowns could face even more disappointment. Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious-disease expert at UC Berkeley, told the Los Angeles Times that parts of the state economy will have to be shut down.

“Within a month after Thanksgiving, the number of cases is going to be up significantly,” he said. “California is going to be very worried, and we will start to see things close down.”

Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious-diseases expert at UC San Francisco, warned that if stores do remain open this season, it’s up to shoppers to stay safe.

“And whatever the hell you’re doing, don’t do Black Friday,” he said.

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