On Friday, California, in conjunction with Oregon and Washington state, issued a self-quarantine travel advisory stating that all travelers coming into the state should self-quarantine for 14 days.
According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), people arriving from outside of California by air, bus, or rail should limit interactions to only those in their household. The advisory also clarified that this will not apply to those traveling for essential business. In addition, the advisory also asks Californians to avoid non-essential travel in the coming days, such as tourism or recreation. Despite a limited Thanksgiving announcement earlier this month by Governor Gavin Newsom, the advisory did not clarify if Thanksgiving travel itself was essential or non-essential.
The advisory itself is also not an order, unlike other states like New York that require quarantining by law or force travelers to fill out forms when travelling. The CDPH is also broad when it comes to the definition of essential travel, including the widely interpretable reasons such as work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.
“California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down,” expressed Governor Newsom in a prepared statement on 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.”
“COVID cases have doubled in Washington over the past two weeks,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee in a statement on Friday. “This puts our state in as dangerous a position today as we were in March. Limiting and reducing travel is one way to reduce the further spread of the disease. I am happy to partner with California and Oregon in this effort to help protect lives up and down the West Coast.”
While there has been significant debate over whether this is justified, many health experts have said that something like this has been expected.
“A million COVID-19 cases in California, and growing rates,” noted Sharon Ramos, a Los Angeles nurse who has had COVID-19 once and has treated COVID-19 patients since March. “With the number of cases we’ve seen, I’m surprised that we didn’t have this advisory in place already.
“We’ve found out that most patients with COVID have ignored orders or travel advisories. They went to the beach when they were told not to, or had a big party despite being a major public health risk.
“The advisory isn’t enforceable, so people are still going to travel because of Thanksgiving and Christmas.. And like people ignoring health warnings during Halloween, we’re going to see a rise from people ignoring it.”
The Advisory is in effect as of Friday morning and is expected to be in place until at least the end of the year.