Bay Area Officials Advise Against Holiday Travel Amid Coronavirus Spike

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The Bay Area health and public officials have urged citizens to rethink their holiday plans of going home to relatives as the county experiences a sudden surge of COVID-19 positive cases in multiple areas.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the county had experienced a rise of nearly 250% right before the holiday season. The social gathering of residents played a major factor in increasing the spread of the virus.

During a Friday briefing, Breed announced that a single person with the coronavirus could infect their friends and colleagues at large social gatherings. The official warned that it was previously seen in certain areas and cautioned citizens to be aware of the virus’s threat. Breed urged people to be careful and follow social distancing protocols to avoid the chance of being infected.

Several infectious disease experts across the nation have expressed their concern about the coming holiday seasons. Medical professionals said traveling outside the region, staying with family members, and eating with a large crowd indoors were all high-risk activities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Founding director of the Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences, Mark Cullen, said people should think of how risky travel would be for their loved ones instead of for themselves. He urged residents to do what they can to protect their families, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Most holiday traditions are also at risk of being completely canceled amid the risks. The executive director of Children’s Fairyland, Kymberly Miller, said that the iconic Fairy Winterland would be drastically different this year compared to before.

Miller assured that it would mostly be the same Winterland residents have come to love but will incorporate additional safety measures to ensure the people’s health. She added they would continue to decorate their halls with thousands of bright lights and decorations.

The executive director said their Black Santa, Eric Martin, would be present to spread smiles among the children during the festivities. He would be leading a socially-distanced parade and would later hand out treats to young kids.

Miller said, “Children will also get to see him in the park, though sitting on his lap is a no-go this year.” Urging participants to have their kids write letters to Santa and drop them in the mailbox at the Chapel of Peace.

The event was scheduled to run between December 18 to 30 and run for about three hours, starting at 4:00 p.m. They also planned to open the park to the public but only during specific times for general sessions. Children’s Fairyland is keen on avoiding large crowds and would limit capacity for the venues to discourage too many people from coming in, the East Bay Times reported.

Several counties, including Marin, Alameda, San Francisco, and others, released a joint recommendation to cancel all nonessential travel.

The Bay Area urges residents who still plan to visit relatives situated outside of the region to self-quarantine themselves for two weeks before going back into their hometowns. Public health officials recommend the restriction to anyone involved in gatherings or traveling by public transportation. They also urged people to get tested before and after their travel.

Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said that their region had worked tirelessly to ensure their people’s safety and reduce the spread of the infection. However, he noted that the state has been experiencing a sudden surge of new COVID-19 cases.

On Monday, nine counties in California reported 1,411 new infections, accounting for the third-highest single-day total since the beginning of the coronavirus. Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Bob Wachter, said that despite not being as grim as the spike seen in the Midwest, the reported increase in cases was still a cause for concern, the San Francisco Gate reported.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.