Home Travel Why Does The CDC Even Bother With This List?

Why Does The CDC Even Bother With This List?

by joeheg

On Monday, the CDC made updates to its COVID-19 travel recommendation list. Most notably, the Caribbean nations of Saint Kitts and Nevis, as well as Belize, were added to the Level 4 Travel Health Notice (THN) category. That’s the highest warning level indicating the country has high levels of COVID and travel is not recommended.

This link provides the criteria the CDC uses to determine a country’s THN category.

Primary criteria for destinations with populations over 100,000:

  1. Incidence rate (cumulative new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population)
  2. New case trajectory (have daily new cases increased, decreased, or remained stable over the past 28 days?)

I was surprised to see St Kitts and Nevis on this list, similar to when the CDC added Iceland to the list a while ago. Since the country only allows fully vaccinated visitors who present a negative PCR test before travel, it’s become a popular search for those looking for safe destinations.

I went to look at the case numbers.

Sure, there’s been an increase in cases from the handful of days in July to now, having a 7-day average of 35 cases. However, I have difficulty looking at this chart and saying that I’d be uncomfortable visiting St. Kitts and Nevis.

Speaking about dangerous places to visit. How’s Iceland doing with that huge COVID outbreak that led to the US telling people not to visit?

After requiring all visitors to have a negative COVID test and putting COVID restrictions like closing bars at 11 PM and requiring masks and social distancing back into place, Iceland has managed to control the surge. That’s the advantage of having a highly vaccinated population that follows the rules.

For comparison, here’s the chart for the US:

What does all of this mean? Data is one thing, but what are the CDC recommendations for travel based on the THN category?

  • Level 4 – Avoid travel to these destinations. If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.
  • Level 3 – Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to these destinations.
  • Level 2 – Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations. Unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid nonessential travel to these destinations.
  • Level 1 – Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations.

No surprise that the CDC is telling unvaccinated people to stay home.

The statements make sense coming from a department that’s trying to control the COVID pandemic. Based on their name, it’s their purpose to do so and having people travel around the world isn’t helpful. I wish the CDC would realize that telling people not to travel isn’t going to keep them from traveling. There must be a better way to provide guidance to travelers than telling them to stay home.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


derek September 14, 2021 - 12:36 pm

These categories are not very useful. The bottom line is to be vaccinated and avoid unnecessary travel internationally and locally. Sure, Singapore and Taiwan have less Covid but I would not travel there unless I had a private jet and was going to live there to lower my risk.

Brian L. September 14, 2021 - 1:22 pm

If the CDC had their way, everybody in the USA would be forcibly locked in their place of residence, and the military would be stationed outside with orders to shoot anyone trying to leave.

Earl B. September 15, 2021 - 1:37 am

The problem with these lists (I just discovered) is that many (most) travel insurance policies won’t cover travel to countries under a “Do Not Travel” advisory from the U.S. State Department. And the insurance companies aren’t very open about this restriction until AFTER you have purchased a policy. I spent most of today buying and then canceling one policy (World Nomads) for an upcoming trip to Greece, and then finally finding a policy that does cover travel to Greece (and Turkey). Thank you American Express! Of course, the policies covering trips to flagged/listed countries are much more expensive.


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