In April the U.S. State Department issued ‘Do Not Travel’ warnings for 80% of the world’s countries due to coronavirus risk. They suddenly discovered the pandemic more than three months into 2021.
What happened is that they conformed their travel warnings to CDC guidance, and the CDC guidance itself made little sense failing to account for up-to-date levels of virus transmission or the kinds of environments Americans would be exposed to on the ground. They even issued their highest warning level for travel to… Antarctica.
This week the CDC discovered vaccines and updated its risk levels for 110 countries.
- France, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, and Italy are now Level 3.
- Lowest-risk countries in the CDC analysis include Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Iceland, Belize and Albania.
The U.S. CDC has also reduced its own risk from level 4 to level 3, and the State Department says it’s updating its travel advisories to correspond with CDC guidance.
The CDC uses reported cases to determine risk level, despite wildly varying levels of testing across countries. However they’ve achieved the reduction in risk level not because of fewer reported cases, but because they’ve changed their methodology:
The agency said the new criteria for a Level 4 “avoid all travel” recommendation has changed from 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 to 500 cases per 100,000.
While some argue that a reassessment of risk levels by the federal government is an important step towards normalcy, Americans have largely ignore these warnings. US travel to Mexico is at an all-time peak, and the credibility of elites is not. Still, it’s likely important for companies – which are increasingly woke in their politics but conservative in their risk-tolerance – to be willing to send travelers back out on the road.
The U.S. government acknowledges it is ‘discussing’ the absurdity of travel bans on non-residents coming to the United States who have been in places like China, the U.K. and Ireland, and Schengen Europe in the past 14 days – when travel warning levels are reducing or low, and when other countries have far greater levels of virus and do not face travel bans.
Asked why the United States is maintaining the warnings even though some countries now have low infection rates subject to the restrictions, while others with high rates are exempt, CDC Director Rochelle Wallensky said on Tuesday the issue is subject to “an interagency conversation, and we are looking at the data in real time as to how we should move forward with that.”
In this case ‘real time’ appears to refer to it being a current discussion as opposed to a fast one, since the data on this has been clear for a year in some cases. Indeed the U.S., U.K., Canada, Mexico and Europe are forming a ‘working group’ to talk about lifting travel restrictions.