As the residents of Santa Clara County near one year of living under COVID-19 restrictions, increased restlessness has pushed many to shrug off mandates discouraging nonessential travel outside of the county. Verde urges students and families to avoid traveling during the pandemic to ensure the safety of others and to stop the spread of the virus.
Our June editorial preceding the rise of infections last summer outlined a series of preventative measures against COVID-19, including wearing masks and avoiding trips outside home excluding emergency situations.
However, we have continued to see many refuse to heed these precautions during school breaks. According to the Santa Clara Department of Public Health, the county’s daily COVID-19 infection rate increased 80% from 634 new cases on Thanksgiving Day to 1,142 new cases two weeks later.
Despite the increased rates of infection, many Palo Alto Unified School District families chose to vacation to distant locations just weeks later. As predicted, Santa Clara County’s weekly average of daily COVID-19 cases increased 52% — from 972 cases on Christmas to 1,479 two weeks later. 2,256 new cases were recorded on Jan. 5 alone.
Traveling is one of the most dangerous ways to spread the coronavirus according to the Santa Clara County Center of Disease Control because close interaction between multiple regions and households is inevitable when traveling by air, train, car or other means. This makes moving through public spaces with large crowds, such as airports, highly unsafe.
“It troubles me that people can be so careless during a time that is affecting people so horribly.”
— Natalia Cossio, junior
Following the increase in travel over the winter holidays, beds in the intensive care unit — which are reserved to give the highest level of care to critical patients — peaked at 102% standard maximum capacity with an influx of coronavirus patients. This lack of space in the ICU compromises the state’s ability to provide critical help for both COVID-19 infectees and other hospitalized patients.
“Five elderly members of my extended family caught it [COVID-19] and three were hospitalized last summer,” junior Natalia Cossio said. “They needed intensive care and I’m so glad that it happened last summer because the ICU capacity is so low now, they might not have made it.”
Cossio’s family has worried about the health of their loved ones after an at-home caretaker for one of their elderly relatives tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I think that it is irresponsible to be traveling at this point, and it troubles me that people can be so careless during a time that is affecting people so horribly,” Cossio said. “It’s certainly unfair that some people are contributing to the [COVID-19] caseload and not suffering the consequences.”
As of now, the steep increase in COVID-19 cases has dipped to an average of 600 per day. However, spring break is approaching and a sudden outflow of travelers will be detrimental to our progress.
The pandemic is far from over, and staying home is just as important as the number of COVID-19 cases remains dangerously high. Though the distribution of promising new vaccines has already begun, vaccinated individuals are still able to spread the virus. Citizens must consciously choose to stay at home and maintain the downward trend of infections rather than traveling and further endangering the lives of at-risk individuals.