California, Oregon, Washington Issue Advisory Discouraging Travel Two Weeks Before Thanksgiving

The governors in California, Oregon and Washington issued a joint travel advisory on Friday in response to the rising numbers of coronavirus cases in their states.

The state leaders announced the joint advisory with just two weeks remaining until Thanksgiving and shortly after California became the second state to exceed 1 million infections since the start of the pandemic. The California Department of Public Health said the advisories were primarily intended to discourage "travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature."

"If you do not need to travel, you shouldn't," Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a news release. "This will be hard, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. But the best way to keep your family safe is to stay close to home."

Los Angeles International Airport
A sign gives social distancing requirements at an American Airlines check-in area at Los Angeles International Airport on October 1. On Friday, the governors in California, Oregon and Washington issued travel advisories discouraging residents from leaving home to visit friends and family over the Thanksgiving holiday. Mario Tama/Getty

Those who do travel into one of the West Coast states from another part of the U.S. or from a country overseas are encouraged to quarantine for 14 days, according to the advisories. Meanwhile, residents of California, Oregon and Washington have been encouraged to stick close to home and refrain from interacting with people they do not live with to prevent further spread of the virus.

The governors added that rising case numbers will strain hospital systems already anticipating COVID-19 patient surges during the winter months.

New virus infections have risen across the U.S. and in several European countries over the past few weeks. The U.S. reported more than 100,000 new cases in a single day for the first time last week, a record that has since been broken multiple times. The nation set its latest record on Thursday with more than 153,000 new reported cases, according to a Johns Hopkins University data tracker.

California's total case count represents nearly one-tenth of the estimated 10.6 million cases that health officials have reported throughout the country. So far, Texas is the only other state that has also reported more than 1 million infections.

In anticipation of the travel and family gatherings that usually occur on Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines that encourage people to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands frequently. The CDC's guidelines also advise those who choose to celebrate the holiday with friends and family to bring their own food and utensils, limit their interactions and gather outdoors when possible.

The holiday typically triggers the busiest travel week of the year in the U.S., but fewer people are expected to travel this year because of the pandemic. According to projections that the American Automobile Association released earlier this week, the estimated 55 million travelers during last year's Thanksgiving holiday will drop off to about 50 million, though the AAA said that estimation could decline further depending on how the virus progresses over the next couple of weeks.

Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of President-elect Joe Biden's coronavirus task force, told CNBC's Squawk Box on Friday that traveling and gathering with friends and family over the holidays would be like "pouring gasoline on a fire."

"It's just not a good idea in the middle of a pandemic, especially at this juncture," Gounder said.

Newsweek reached out to Biden's transition team for further comment and will update this story with any response.