Spring semester is fast approaching, and some Claremont Colleges students are gearing up for pre-semester travel to move for internships, stability or an attempt at a modified college experience.
Here are some things to know if you’re moving to Claremont for the spring semester.
A 10-day quarantine is in place for travelers from outside Southern California
Los Angeles County health officials issued a mandatory travel directive Dec. 30 reaffirming the state travel advisory that requires people who arrive into any region of California to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
The directive applies to “all persons traveling into Los Angeles County, whether by air, car, train or any other means, directly or indirectly from a point of origin outside the Southern California Region,” which comprises Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Quarantine does not mean solely wearing a mask — it means not going to the grocery store, not going to work, not socializing with friends, not having anyone over in your home and not making food for anyone other than yourself, according to the LA County Public Health Department.
For your first 10 days in Claremont, consider using contactless grocery delivery service apps like Instacart or UberEats for any essentials. Target and Vons both offer curbside pickup and grocery delivery, but try to minimize your use of these services. Transmission can occur between you and the courier, and the risk of transmission from handling food is low but non-zero — meaning contact-free delivery isn’t ever risk-free.
A pod only works if you only interact with members of your pod
The basics of how a pod works are this: You and your pod members can interact with each other indoors without masks for extended periods of time and do not do so with people outside your pod.
Some experts recommend that a pod be between five and 10 people, but the smaller the better — every extra pod member is an extra risk. The socially distant logistics of a pod can collapse with just one errant member.
The most important thing is honest, constant communication among pod members about who you’re seeing and what safety precautions each person is taking.
“As soon as you sort of break your bubble, the connections can be infinite. And this is how [the virus] spreads,” Beth McGraw, director of Penn State’s Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, told The Atlantic.
When a New York Times columnist contact-traced his own quarantine bubble, in which his kids attended learning pods and gymnastics classes, he found that it ultimately reached over 100 people.
Six feet is not enough for maskless indoor interaction
There is growing evidence that the “six feet apart” protocols are not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Scientists have found the virus floating in the air outside the hospital rooms of COVID-19 patients, and a preliminary study — not yet peer-reviewed — found the virus up to 16 feet away from infected patients at a hospital in Florida, the Washington Post reported.
Even with face coverings, prolonged indoor contact can pose a high risk for COVID-19 transmission. There have been several cases of infection at restaurants and cafes where people contracted COVID-19 through the airflow of the room’s air conditioning.
“Outdoors, distanced and with well-fitted masks is the only thing close to a silver bullet,” Jose-Luis Jimenez, a University of Colorado aerosol expert, told the Washington Post.
If you’re on an international flight, you might need proof of a negative test
A new federal policy will require all international passengers entering the United States to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The policy will go into effect on Jan. 26, the day after classes begin for the spring semester.
In December, a similar policy was enacted that required a negative test for travelers coming into the United States from Britain. According to the CDC, the best policy is to test one to two days before you fly and three to five days after you reach your destination.
LA County hospitals are at their breaking point
If you’re moving back to Claremont, you’ll be doing so in the midst of what LA officials say is the “worst disaster” in decades.
Last week, LA County COVID-19 hospitalizations exceeded 8,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March, and the county’s five greatest daily case counts not affected by case backlogs have all occurred in 2021, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.
An average of more than 200 residents have died from COVID-19 every day in the past week, the LA Times reported.
Five hospitals in LA County had to declare an “internal disaster” on Dec. 27 due to problems with hospital oxygen systems, allowing facilities to close their emergency rooms to all incoming ambulance traffic, according to the LA Times.
“[LA County has] seen some high case numbers, and those will end up in our hospitals … five to 10 days from now,” Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California Health and Human Services, said at a press conference Monday.
“So I don’t want to think that we’re out of the woods in any measure.”
Jaimie Ding SC ’21 is from Vancouver, Washington.