The CDC Says Don't Go to These 2 Popular U.S. Destinations Right Now
The health agency has added the locales to their list of places you should avoid.
Months ago, a decline in COVID-19 cases worldwide gave many people hope that they could finally take the trips they had been denied due to the pandemic. But the spread of the Delta variant has sent cases skyrocketing in some areas again, putting travel plans for many in doubt as certain restrictions are revived and safety becomes questionable. The latest change comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised against travel to Puerto Rico and Guam, warning that visitors should avoid the popular destinations for now.
In the agency's latest update posted on Aug. 30, both U.S. territories were elevated to the top risk alert tier of "Level 4: COVID-19 Very High." The same update also saw Switzerland, Saint Lucia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, and North Macedonia also moved up to the highest travel risk level, which the U.S. State Department also elevated to their "Level 4: Do Not Travel" designation.
The news comes as officials in Puerto Rico have added new public health measures to help curb the spread of the Delta variant on the island. During a press conference on Aug. 30, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced that a ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in public between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. would go into effect on Sept. 2. The curfew also forbids public gatherings such as birthday parties, weddings, or concerts during the same hours. And while indoor mask mandates are already in place across Puerto Rico, face coverings will also now be required for groups of 50 or more at outdoor gatherings.
"We have lost a lot, and we are unwilling to continue losing more lives to this terrible virus," Carlos Mellado, Secretary of Health for Puerto Rico, said in a translated press release, according to Business Insider. "We want our population well and healthy. We all want to have the freedoms of before, but we still have a way to go."
The CDC advises that all travel to any countries listed as "Level 4" should be avoided if at all possible. The agency determines risk level based on recently reported cases, with the top tier designated as any place where more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents have been recorded in the past 28 days.
The agency urges that anyone who absolutely must travel to the destinations should be fully vaccinated before doing so. In their baseline guidance, the CDC still recommends that any who must travel anywhere internationally get their shots before leaving the U.S. Restrictions are also in place that require all returning travelers to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their return flight regardless of vaccination status.
"Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19," the agency states on their website. "However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants."
The CDC outlines that all unvaccinated people traveling outside the U.S. should be tested for COVID-19 three days before departing, wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and regularly wash their hands while abroad. Returning travelers should also be tested for the virus three to five days after their return and self-quarantine for seven days. Of course, the agency warns that unvaccinated people who have been exposed to the virus, test positive, or show symptoms should avoid all travel.