The New CDC Director Warns This COVID Precaution Could Be Tightened

Coronavirus measures may increase as a new administration enters office.

Many restrictions have been implemented over the last year to help try to stop the raging coronavirus spread. Recently, President Donald Trump signed an order to lift some of the restrictions he imposed early last year, but one of those changes may not stand, according to Rochelle Walensky, the incoming director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new CDC director says she expects that international travel restrictions will actually be tightened under President-elect Joe Biden's new administration. Read on to find out more on this policy, and for more of Walensky's predictions, The New CDC Director Just Issued This Very Dark COVID Warning.

President Trump just signed an order to lift travel bans he placed last year.

Donald Trump
Evan El-Amin /

In 2020, Trump banned most international travel into the country from non-U.S. citizens as a way to slow the spread of COVID. But on Jan. 18, he signed an order to lift the travel bans he imposed last year. This new order rescinds travel restrictions on much of Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil. Unless acted on by Biden, Trump's new order is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 26, after he has left office.

"I agree with the Secretary that this action is the best way to continue protecting Americans from COVID-19 while enabling travel to resume safely," Trump wrote in the order, referring to former Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. And for coronavirus news, This Is Dr. Fauci's Single Biggest Regret About COVID.

But the incoming CDC director says these restrictions may be tightened, not lifted.

new incoming cdc director Rochelle Walensky
Good Morning America/ABC

With case numbers still rising and the death toll hitting 400,000, this may not be the best time to rescind such bans, Rochelle Walensky, MD, incoming director of the CDC, said Jan. 19 on Good Morning America.

"If you look at our cases across this country, I don't think now is the time to encourage people to get on international flights, to encourage people to mobilize," she said. "I think now is the time to really buckle down, double down our efforts. So, I don't expect that we will be lifting travel restrictions, and if anything, I think we can expect that they might tighten, especially in the context of variants that we're hearing about."

Another new official tagged for the Biden team, incoming press secretary Jen Psaki, echoed Walensky's thoughts in a series of tweets. "With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel," Psaki tweeted. "On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

These travel restrictions affect more than 30 countries.

Green ribbon barrier inside an airport with the warning of travel restrictions due to the spread of the dangerous Coronavirus

The current travel restrictions have barred entry into the country from non-U.S. citizens who have been in certain countries within the past 14 days, with few exceptions. According to the CDC, more than 30 countries have been included in this ban. If Biden's administration overturns Trump's order, all of these countries will remain restricted, but if Trump's order were to be carried out, only China and Iran would be. And for more on staying safe from coronavirus, These 2 COVID Precautions May Not Be Necessary After All, New Study Finds.

The CDC also just put new testing requirements on international travelers to the U.S.

people in teens, 20s, 30s, and 60s wearing protective masks and following social distancing requirement as they stand and wait.

Contention over the standing travel restrictions come just after the CDC placed new requirements on international travelers. As mandated by a Jan. 12 order, all passengers on international flights arriving in the U.S. will have to show proof of a negative COVID test before traveling, beginning Jan. 26.

"Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19. With the U.S. already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public," CDC officials said in a statement. And for more essential guidance, The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.

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