The U.S. State Department on Monday announced it will declare “Do Not Travel” advisories for some 80% of countries across the world.
“As travelers face ongoing risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State will begin updating its Travel Advisories this week to better reflect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) science-based Travel Health Notices that outline current issues affecting travelers’ health,” the department said in a statement. “Our Advisories also take into account logistical factors, including in-country testing availability and current travel restrictions for U.S. citizens.”
“This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide. This does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country, but rather reflects an adjustment in the State Department’s Travel Advisory system to rely more on CDC’s existing epidemiological assessments.”
In a massive list, the State Department declares dozens of nations “Do Not Travel,” “Reconsider Travel,” and “Exercise Increased Caution.”
“As always, we are closely monitoring conditions around the globe, and will regularly update our destination-specific advice to U.S. travelers as conditions evolve,” the department said.
Already, at least 34 out of about 200 countries are listed as “Do Not Travel,” the department’s highest warning. Among them are Argentina, Brazil, Haiti, Kenya and Russia. To get to 80%, that would mean another 130 countries added to the list.
The State Department announcement comes a day after the Biden administration declared that Americans age 16 or older are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC, meanwhile, estimates that some 131 million people — half of U.S. adults — have already been inoculated with at least one dose of the vaccine. In addition, the U.S. is administering more than 3 million doses daily.
President Joe Biden had pushed to make all Americans eligible by April 19, a milestone he met. “For months I’ve been telling Americans to get vaccinated when it’s your turn. Well, it’s your turn, now,” Biden said Sunday on a program called “Roll Up Your Sleeves” on NBC. “It’s free. It’s convenient and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from Covid-19.”
But the good numbers follow a setback for the vaccine process. Last week, The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration recommended a temporary pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to reports that several people suffered blood clots after receiving the vaccination.
The nation’s top immunologist said that has resulted in a loss of confidence in vaccines.
“One of the most important reasons why people have hesitancy is they’re concerned about the safety. The very fact that you have an organization, two organizations, the CDC and the FDA, looking so carefully at this, making safety the primary concern, in my mind, confirms or underscores the situation that we take safety very seriously,” said Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor following the pause.