California Urges Residents to Stay Within 120 Miles of Home in New COVID-19 Travel Advisory

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the country, California's climbing numbers mark one of the nation's most dire situations. On Saturday, the Golden State reported a record 695 deaths in a single day, according to the Associated Press. 

In an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, the California Department of Public Health issued a new travel advisory on Jan. 6, restricting the radius that residents should travel. "Except in connection with essential travel, Californians should avoid nonessential travel to any part of California more than 120 miles from one's place of residence, or to other states or countries," the decree stated.

Additionally, nonessential travelers — defined as those whose travel is "tourism or recreational in nature" — from other states and countries are "strongly discouraged" from entering California. 

To date, California has had 2,717,862 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 30,004 deaths, with daily new cases continuing to trend upward, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Hospitalization numbers started to mount in the state following surges on both Halloween and Thanksgiving, the AP reported, adding that there's a serious fear of even higher numbers stemming from those who gathered or traveled for Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations — and that it could force hospitals to have to ration care. 

Nurse Yesenia Avila at Oxnard's St. John's Regional Medical Center, where the intensive care unit beds are full most of the time, told Ventura County Star, "We've never seen this much death before. I've been in health care for 22 years, and I've never been scared. Right now, I am…I fear for my children."

The health department says that intrastate travel "threatens to exacerbate community spread," adding that "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." Those who do travel are told to self-quarantine for 10 days after arrival in California.

The statewide order also recommends "postponing travel" and "staying home," as the pandemic situation continues to grow more grave. "Avoiding travel reduces the risk of virus transmission, including by reducing the risk that new sources of infection and, potentially, new virus strains will be introduced to California."

While the 120-mile decree may be the first of its kind in the United States, the country's measures have been lax compared to other nations that have implemented countrywide lockdowns, including England, Scotland, and Italy. Meanwhile, the TSA screened a record 1.3 million passengers just last week on Jan. 3, the highest number since the pandemic. Since then, the nation has set a one-day record of deaths, with 4,085 people losing their lives to COVID-19 on Jan. 7 alone, NPR reported.

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