The U.S. government is taking baby steps coming to its senses on travel advisories, no longer listing Israel and the U.K. with the highest level of travel warning – as they recently did for 80% of the countries in the world.
Israel has been among the world leaders in vaccination, and that’s made Covid-19 almost non-existent in the country. As of this writing the current 7-day average of new cases there is 48, yet even after State Department revisions it’s listed as elevated risk. Shouldn’t they list the U.S. as being more risky than Israel? Indeed, aren’t you at less risk if you travel there than stay here?
Meanwhile the U.K. has really gotten the virus under control as well. On a per capita bases there’s about a quarter the Covid-19 there that there is in the U.S. They’re even going to permit casual sex again lifting the ban on people from different households spending the night together, hugging, and kissing.
Yet U.S. travel policies have not kept up with world events, or even the science of Covid-19.
- Travelers from the U.K. remain banned from traveling to the U.S. even if they have been vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19.
- Travel is mostly banned from China, Iran, India, Brazil, South Africa, the European Schengen area, the U.K. and Ireland. Yet we never banned travelers from Bahrain or Peru, which had some of the world’s worst outbreaks. By the way, did you know that South Africa has orders of magnitude fewer reported cases per capita than the U.S. does?
- Vaccinated travelers still have to get a Covid-19 test to fly back to the U.S. while those who have recently covered from the virus do not. Meanwhile no test is required for most domestic travel, or to visit crowded bars or other indoor events.
- Antigen tests of varying quality, taken anywhere in the world, are accepted. No test is required to cross a U.S. land border.
The variants are here anyway. That’s not just because of travel. The virus mutates in similar ways all over the world, evolving naturally in the U.S. so it’s just imported.
Since there’s enough vaccine here for anyone in the U.S. who wants one to get one, we should lift travel restrictions. At a minimum there’s no reason for restrictions targeted at travelers from the U.K. and China where Coivd-19 is far less prevalent than it is here.
Vaccinated travelers should be exempt from testing requirements since the CDC’s research shows that the mRNA vaccines reduce the likelihood of being a carrier of the virus by 90% and in the CDC Director’s own words, “vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don`t get sick.”
And we should be vaccinating the world, releasing our excess doses and funding vaccine manufacturing and distribution everywhere. Clamping down on the presence of the virus means eliminating hosts within which it can mutate. Doing this would have been far less expensive than any of the standalone coronavirus spending packages that have been passed over the last 14 months. Speculative, but I wonder if airlines would even have benefited more if the second or third round of subsidies they received had been spent instead of ramping up vaccination abroad.
The U.S. should drop its ban on travel from areas with less Covid-19 than the United States. And it should drop its requirement for a Covid-19 test for those that have been vaccinated.