The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Wednesday a new travel advisory for Californians, heavily recommending to limit all travel to within 120 miles of home.
The advisory specifically discourages travel outside the state, outside the country, and no more than 120 miles away from home. Residents who travel for work, study, medical treatment, and other essential reasons are exempt from CDPH’s recommendation.
Additionally, the new advisory supersedes the holiday travel advisory from mid-November that had all people coming into California to quarantine for two weeks. The new advisory will shorten this period to only 10 days and will exempt all health care workers and other related responders coming into California to help with COVID-19 efforts. All non-essential out-of-state travelers are also not encouraged to travel to California according to the CDPH.
The new CDPH advisory was largely made to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the state, which has seen a rise in new cases in recent weeks, now averaging around 35,000 new cases a day. The number of deaths in California due to COVID has also risen exponentially as well, hitting a new two-day record of 1,042 this week.
“Persons arriving in California from other states or Californians returning from other states or countries could introduce new sources of infection (potentially including new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus) to California,” noted Wednesday’s advisory. “Intra-state travel, likewise threatens to exacerbate community spread within California—particularly because travel itself (especially the use of shared conveyances in air, bus, or rail travel) can increase a person’s chance of spreading and getting COVID-19.”
Health professionals have said that while the new advisory would help mitigate the spread on paper, it may not be enough should cases rise more in the coming weeks. There are also concerns of the advisory being purely voluntary for Californians to follow, as the advisory is not an order.
“It comes down to three things,” explained Sharon Ramos, a Los Angeles nurse who has had COVID-19 once and has treated COVID-19 patients for ten months, to the Globe. “Wash hands, wear a mask, social distance by six when you can. These have been key. But not everyone is doing that trinity, especially in Los Angeles.
“And, for many, everything seems almost as usual except people now have to wear masks at banks and grocery stores. But it’s a much grimmer story at hospitals. They aren’t seeing patients flooding in and dead patients being wheeled out almost regularly.
“I hope this advisory helps stop the spread more, since we’re seeing new record COVID numbers seemingly everyday. But there is this overall dread that the worst is yet to come, especially with people just now coming back from Christmas and New Year’s away from here.”
The new travel advisory became active on Wednesday and fully in effect on Thursday.