Bay Area health officials consider 14-day self-quarantine after traveling outside the area

Friday, November 6, 2020
Bay Area health officials considering self-quarantine after travel
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New COVID-19 guidelines for the Bay Area are under consideration, aimed at the heavy holiday travel season. There's a possibility of a two-week quarantine for visitors and residents alike.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- New COVID-19 guidelines for the Bay Area are under consideration, aimed at the heavy holiday travel season.

There's a possibility of a two-week quarantine for visitors and residents alike.

Thanksgiving airfares are forecast to be as much as 40 percent cheaper this year than last. That could be an incentive for families to gather from across the country. However, there could be a hitch.

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Bay Area county health officers were expected to meet Thursday to develop recommendations to prevent a rise in infections caused by holiday travel.

One idea is a possible 14-day quarantine to prevent counties from backsliding on their improved reopening status. While the meeting has been confirmed, there are no details yet about other ideas or guidelines.

The idea was brought up during State Health Secretary Mark Ghaly's Wednesday briefing. He said a regional approach might help communities to keep their infection and hospitalization rates in check.

"(I'm) really looking forward to see how the Bay Area counties come together on this to see if there's something that's applicable that should be considered in other regions or statewide," Dr. Ghaly said.

This week, New York State announced a 14-day quarantine for most out-of-state and international visitors, exempting only those from contiguous states and those who were tested at least 72 hours prior to arrival. Even then, they must quarantine for at least three days.

VIDEO: Bay Area health officials considering self-quarantine after travel

The New York plan's quarantine specifies must stay in separate quarters with private bathrooms, have food delivered, and have symptoms monitored. New York's penalties for violating quarantine could result in a $10,000 fine and up to 15 days imprisonment.

Health Secretary Ghaly acknowledged Californians are experiencing pandemic fatigue after eight months, but he urged continued vigilance because cases could skyrocket quickly during the holidays.

Stanford Infection Disease Expert Dr. Dean Winslow said COVID-19 spread could spark from just a single person.

"You just need one person who's infected who could potentially infect everyone else, particularly if you're going to be in a room, like normally you would be indoors having a Thanksgiving or a Christmas dinner," Winslow said.

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Winslow said the quarantine plan could help keep coronavirus patient care at manageable levels throughout the region.

"The more we can do help reduce the frequency of people getting infected, that's going to reduce the burden on our emergency room," said Winslow.

But with fatigue setting in, more than seven months into the pandemic, some wonder how effective a recommendation would be as compared to a mandatory order. Psychologists say compliance will likely be an issue.

"People are going to want to be inside, they're going to want to be connected with one another," said Santa Clara University psychology professor Dr. Thomas Plante. "It's going to be very easy for people to let their guard down at a time when they need to be vigilant."

In San Francisco, health officials have already issued guidance, asking its residents to quarantine after traveling and coming into contact with members outside of their household if face coverings aren't worn.

As the Bay Area evaluates whether a regional approach is the way to go, the public is being asked to do its part to preserve the progress that has been made thus far.

"The last thing we need is another spike in cases that's driven by holiday get-togethers," said Winslow.

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