CA health officials issue COVID-19 travel advisory

If you were planning to travel for Thanksgiving, the State of California is asking you not to do so.

But if you must, the state Department of Public Health has issued a travel advisory urging travelers to the state to observe a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival.

The advisory, which applies to California, Oregon and Washington, states that people traveling should limit their interactions to just those within their immediate household. The recommendation does not apply to those engaging in essential travel, such as those traveling for work, critical infrastructure support or for immediate medical care.

With coronavirus cases surging, the advisory encourages Californians to stay home or in their home region and to avoid non-essential travel to other states or countries.

“We’re encouraging Californians to stay close to home,to avoid non-essential travel to other states, and frankly, across the state, if that’s avoidable,“ said Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly during a Friday press conference.

The state is recommending that families engage in virtual gatherings as much as possible.

The state travel advisory, which is a recommendation and not mandatory, differs from the approach taken by the state of New York, which has issued a mandatory two-week quarantine period for all non-essential travelers from non-bordering states.

Ghaly stressed that the advisory was just that.

“It isn’t a ban. It isn’t a restriction. It’s an advisory,” Ghaly said. “(Yet) we certainly hope that the fact that it’s an advisory doesn’t lessen the voice and the emphasis on how important it is.”

Ghaly said that the state opted for a voluntary approach, instead of something more restrictive, in part because of Californians’ exhaustion with coronavirus lockdown orders. He has begun using the term “COVID resentment” to describe what some are experiencing.

He said state officials still hope that other measures they recommend, including wearing masks and avoiding mixing with members of multiple households, will avoid more restrictions that could hurt California businesses.

Ghaly said it would be difficult to police a state of 40 million people, and that the preferred approach is to work in partnership with Californians on voluntary measures.

“We are not looking today at a statewide stay-at-home order. We know many Californians are fatigued and tired,” Ghaly said. “All of that said, this is a quickly, rapidly evolving situation. Certainly these rates of rise are very concerning.”

Ghaly said self-quarantine means people should only have contact with immediate family members with whom they have regularly had contact. People in quarantine should not have in-person contact with others outside of their household, he said.

“This isn’t the time to put our guard down,” Ghaly said.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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