Monday, November 30, 2020

Travel Advisories from travel.state.gov (The stars are embassy locations)

Two things I love to do: Sing and travel. There are limits on both this year. Travel is “fraught” as they say. (I’ve noticed the news media calls everything fraught this year, so I thought I’d join in. It will have a place of honor on my upcoming list of overused words of 2020.) So let’s just say travel is complicated and more or less forbidden in this pandemic year.

Up until August 6, the State Department advised against all international travel. Now they still have travel advisories for many countries, and many countries in turn have their own travel advisories or quarantines against us visiting them. See the State Department map is at https://travelmaps.state.gov/TSGMap/ . The U.S. and New Zealand seem to be okay. Russia, Brazil, and Argentina are among the orange (Do Not Travel) countries, and most of the others are kind of tan (Reconsider Travel). You might get there, but will they let you in? Basically, the whole world is off-limits by somebody’s standards today.

CDC Travel notices

The CDC has a similar map, but colored in terms of COVID-19 levels https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html . Red is Very High and yellow is Low. If you want someplace in between, try places like the Faroe Islands, the Seychelles, and American Samoa.

What about staying in North America? Well, you can’t just drive into Canada. Non-essential (tourists/travel/shopping) visiting has been closed since March 21 and has been extended month-by-month ever since, with the latest extension going up to Dec. 21. But don’t expect anything to change then. Mexico not as clear. Non-essential travel across the border is not well-defined, flights are allowed, but both the State Department and CDC advise against travel to Mexico at this time. Bottom line: Check somewhere for up to date information for travel to anywhere and make your decision accordingly.

Travel within the United States is fraught too. The New York Times has a list that is updated weekly: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/travel/state-travel-restrictions.html . Right now most half the states have travel restrictions for incoming visitors and enforcement varies. States with no restrictions this week include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. With careful planning you might be able to drive across country if nothing changes.

States requiring a negative test and/or quarantine for all or most visitors: Alaska, Connecticut, Washington D. C., Massacusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont.

States requiring a negative test and/or quarantine only for visitors from certain states with high COVID-19 case counts: Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island. Each one defines its own parameters.

Purple counties in California

California, Oregon, and Washington “urge” a 14-day self-quarantine for visitors and returning residents. No wonder I’ve found it easier to take short road trips inside the state! But now California has its own color-coded map. Purple is the worst COVID spread with more than 8.0% positive tests. We will be driving about 370 miles through purple counties this Thursday to spend 4 days at Yosemite National Park.

When we went there in August it seemed like the spread was slowing down. All restaurants were outside only, some with table service and some with take-out only. There were very few people at Yosemite and we took some lovely hikes. Right now the weather there is clear and sunny with daytime temperatures around 48 and nighttime lows around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re staying at the Ahwahnee Hotel. According to their website they have indoor but socially distanced dining, but the rules are changing rapidly.

Right now we are under a statewide limited stay-at-home order. Not sure what that means, I looked it up. In regard to road trips, the order reads: “Nothing in this order prevents any number of persons from the same household from leaving their residence, lodging, or temporary accommodation, as long as they do not engage in any interaction with (or otherwise gather with) any number of persons from any other household, except as specifically permitted herein.” Okay, that’s what we’re doing, but Governor Newsom announced today that California is on the brink of a regional stay-at-home order because of the increase in hospital occupancy. Regional. I’m not sure what that means.

I think it’s fraught. I’ll let you know.

Today’s Notable Headlines and Sources

“Task force formed to examine re-opening U.S.-Canada border, but it still may be a while,” Bellingham Herald, Nov. 28, 2020. https://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/coronavirus/article247432605.html

“Can Americans Visit Mexico Right Now?” Afar, Nov. 18, 2020. https://www.afar.com/magazine/can-americans-visit-mexico-right-now

“Is It Safe to Travel Again? Your Coronavirus Questions Answered,” Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/all-your-coronavirus-travel-questions-answered-11582980999

“Thinking of Traveling in the U.S.? Check Which States Have Travel Restrictions,” New York Times, Updated Nov. 25, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/travel/state-travel-restrictions.html

“Newsom warns of regional stay-at-home order as COVID-19 hospitalizations hit record,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 30. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-11-30/california-covid-coronavirus-restrictions-hospitalizations-at-record-levels

California’s limited stay-at-home order: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/limited-stay-at-home-order.aspx

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the pandemic experience from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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