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19 Mar 2020 | 09:57 PM UTC

US: California implements stay-at-home measures March 19 /update 29

California Governor Gavin Newsom orders all residents to restrict non-essential movement from March 19 to prevent further spread of coronavirus

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USA

Event

Governor Gavin Newsom issued a state-wide stay-at-home order for California on the evening (local time) of Thursday, March 19, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. All residents are being requested to limit non-essential movement until further notice. People will still be allowed to leave their homes for walks and exercise, or for essential needs such as food and medical care. Restaurants will also be able to deliver meals. At least 675 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in California. Earlier on Thursday, Pennsylvania state officials also called for all “non life-saving businesses” to close.

The US Department of State issued a Level 4 travel advisory, its highest-level travel alert, on Thursday, urging citizens to avoid all international travel due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Citizens who are currently abroad but reside in the US have been advised to return home immediately, if possible. On Wednesday, March 18, President Donald Trump announced that the US and Canada would close their border to nonessential travel. 

As of March 19, 14,316 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term. 

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.