Travelers coming into CA should make COVID testing part of their travel plans, state recommends

Amanda del Castillo Image
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
CA recommends travelers get COVID test after arriving in state
More than two weeks since Thanksgiving, we're only beginning to understand how gatherings may have impacted COVID-19 case rates across California.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- More than two weeks since Thanksgiving, and we're only beginning to understand how in-person gatherings may have impacted COVID-19 case rates across California.

On Monday, State Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly cited a 47% rise in cases and a 14% increase in hospitalizations since the holiday.

RELATED: State reinstates indoor mask mandate for one month amid new COVID-19 increase

Now, officials are recommending all travelers coming into California get a COVID test 3-5 days after their arrival, whether taking planes, buses, trains, or other transportation.

"I'm probably not going to be doing that," Reza Navadeh said after landing at Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) from Arizona. "That sounds like an extra step of something I just don't feel like doing. I understand that it's for my own safety, but if it's a recommendation, I'm going to leave it at that."

Saratoga resident and traveler Emma Vaillant shared, "I'll probably just be in my house, quarantining in-general for the next few days and focusing on my health and re-grounding. I've been traveling for a while. So, that's kind of how I'm choosing to respond and come home."

Many travelers touching down at SJC on Monday shared mixed reaction.

RELATED: Variant uncertainty has Santa Clara Co. health officials pushing pause on easing COVID mandates

Santa Clara County says it's "not anywhere near" lifting the indoor mask mandate, despite having a nearly 80% vaccination rate.

"It's about trying to get the disease out, not to increase it," traveler and San Jose resident Frank Barajas said. "And I think that is great."

Traveler and resident Maxwell Dukelow told ABC7 News, "If I feel like I came in contact with anybody or get any phone calls like that, then I'll probably go get tested. But if I'm feeling fine and nothing comes back, then I'll more than likely just not get tested."

Stanford Infectious Disease Doctor Anne Liu says testing after travel is an important step amid the nationwide surge in cases.

"Knowing whether somebody has an infection when they come back from traveling in a place where there may be the spread of a really transmissible virus, even if they're vaccinated, does help with public health efforts," Dr. Liu said. "It can help with that person's own decision making about what context they're going to have and what they're going to do about gatherings over the period of time that they're potentially contagious."

RELATED: How a Wisconsin wedding with vaccinated people led to outbreak

"So, I think that that makes sense," she said.

Another step that makes sense, according to UCSF Epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford- anyone completing a rapid at-home test should report both negative and positive results to health officials.

He pointed to Marin County's self-test reporting tool, here.

"In an ideal world, there would be some app attached or some upload link attached to the test kit that would just shoot it off into the stratosphere and we'd be able to download it," Dr. Rutherford added.

Until then, health experts say an idea for holiday gift giving is getting tested after travel.

"If we're going to maintain the gain we've gotten, that we've achieved so far, I think this is a prudent step," Dr. Rutherford said. "I also think that the masking step is prudent as well."

For CDC domestic travel guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

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