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Officials recommend self-quarantining after holiday travel as cases surge statewide

As COVID-19 cases spike in LA County, public health officials recommend residents isolate for 14 days after traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. (Naveed Pour/Daily Bruin staff)

By Elizabeth Sherwood

Nov. 18, 2020 2:45 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 22 at 6:48 p.m.

Public health officials recommend Los Angeles County residents isolate for 14 days after traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday amid a statewide surge in COVID-19 cases.

Barbara Ferrer, the director for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said in a press conference Thursday that people should self-quarantine when they arrive back in LA County. Thanksgiving celebrations must also abide by strict guidelines, she added.

“You can host or attend gatherings with two other households, as long as you’re able to stay outside,” Ferrer said. “Keep your distance, and when not eating or drinking, wear your face covering.”

The California Department of Public Health issued a Friday advisory which deemed traveling a risk, and instructed people to self-quarantine for 14 days both after leaving and after arriving in California. The advisory also recommended that people avoid nonessential or recreational travel.

Some students have decided to stay in Westwood during Thanksgiving because of COVID-19.

Arsh Gupta, a third-year applied math and economics international student, said he will spend Thanksgiving in Westwood with his roommates.

“It wouldn’t make sense to travel internationally and expose myself to the risk for such a short duration,” Gupta said.

Gupta said he thinks the guidance is necessary because of the surge in cases and the likelihood that many are planning to travel for the holidays.

“A silver lining to the entire situation is that having a 14-day self-quarantine would not have too much of a drastic impact on a student’s lifestyle, since everything is remote anyway,” Gupta said. “We should be in quarantine regardless of whether it’s enforced or not.”

LA County officials announced in a Nov. 12 press conference that the county will remain in the purple tier, the most restrictive tier of California’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” tier system. The tiers are based on the number of new cases per day and the positivity rate in the area.

In purple-tier counties, people can only hold outdoor gatherings, restaurants can only have outdoor dining, retail stores must operate at 25% capacity and bars and live audience sports must close.

Janaki Patel, a third-year biophysics student, said she will be going home for Thanksgiving then returning to UCLA, but is taking precautions to reduce her risk of contracting COVID-19 before leaving.

“I get a (COVID-19) test every week, just to be sure,” Patel said. “My roommates and I are not leaving and are self-isolating until we leave for home, so there is no chance we can catch (COVID-19) before we go home. We stocked up on groceries and everything, so we aren’t leaving our apartment.”

The county has seen more than a 33% increase in cases reported from Oct. 3 to Nov. 3, Ferrer said. The county may stay in the purple tier for at least a few weeks, said Ferrer added.

COVID-19 related hospitalizations are also on the rise, Ferrer said. This will likely lead to a dramatic increase in daily deaths in the near future, she added.

“We most likely haven’t seen the full consequence of the surge in cases we recently experienced,” Ferrer said. “This much of an increase in cases may very (well) result in tremendous suffering and tragic deaths down the road.”

Cold weather during the holiday season may drive people indoors and promote the spread of COVID-19, the CDPH said in an announcement Friday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference Monday that the daily COVID-19 cases in California have doubled in the last 10 days, the fastest increase the state has ever experienced. The state moved 40 counties to the purple tier, he added, meaning 94% of California’s population is now in this tier.

Other counties moving back into the purple tier include Orange County, Ventura County and Fresno County.

Newsom added in a press conference that the state is considering even more restrictive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 – including a statewide curfew.

“Now is the time to do all we can – government at all levels and Californians across the state – to flatten the curve again as we have done before,” Newsom said in a press release.

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Elizabeth Sherwood | Assistant News editor
Sherwood is the 2020-2021 Assistant News Editor for the City & Crime beat. She was previously a contributor for National News and Higher Education. She is a second year political science and communications student and digital humanities minor at UCLA.
Sherwood is the 2020-2021 Assistant News Editor for the City & Crime beat. She was previously a contributor for National News and Higher Education. She is a second year political science and communications student and digital humanities minor at UCLA.
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