The governors of California, Oregon and Washington issued a joint coronavirus travel advisory on Friday urging people arriving to their states to self-quarantine for 14 days and asking residents to avoid all non-essential out-of-state trips.
The Pacific Northwest states said essential travel includes people who are traveling for “work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care and safety and security,” according to a statement.
The Democratic governors also recommended that travelers limit their interactions with only people in their households.
“California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “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.”
The travel advisory is voluntary, according to Newsom’s office, which sent out a statement saying the best enforcement is “encouraging others to be respectable and be responsible by taking action. Asking people to do the right thing is the most powerful enforcement tool we have.”
Friday’s travel warning comes as families across the country modify their holiday plans and university students plan their return trips home amid a surge of Covid-19 cases in nearly every corner of the U.S.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on a call late last week that the state would ramp up enforcement at its airports during the holiday season to ensure arriving travelers follow quarantine and testing requirements.
Cuomo said he plans to send in more National Guard to help enforce the state’s travel advisory, adding that he spoke with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about increasing the New York City Police Department’s presence as well.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that traveling can increase someone’s chance of spreading and becoming infected with the coronavirus. The safest option is to stay home, the CDC’s guidance says.
When it comes to traveling by air, people should be aware that the risk isn’t limited to sitting on the plane alone, said Keri Althoff, an associate professor in the department of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, during a media call Thursday.
Althoff cautioned that standing in line, especially if travelers are less than 6 feet away from other people, could increase their risk. People should also avoid touching their masks and faces because airports are full of high-touch areas, such as bathrooms.
“It’s not just what’s going on in the airplane, but it’s the whole experience,” Althoff said. “And so doing everything you can to reduce your exposures if you do choose to travel or, given the quick acceleration in cases in the country right now, choosing to stay home may be the best option.”