The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday urged Americans to avoid travel while warning of a possible “avoidable surge” in the coronavirus.
“Much of the travel, we know, is related to people who are going on spring break,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing. “We’re worried not just for what happens when you are on the airplane itself but what happens when people travel. That is, they go out. They mix with people who are not vaccinated.”
The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday screened over 1.5 million travelers in airports – the highest number seen in over a year. Sunday was also the 11th consecutive day that saw over 1 million screenings.
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“We’re so close to vaccinating so many more people,” Walensky said. “So I would just encourage people and remind people: Now is not the time to travel.”
And while travel ticked up, so did the most recent seven-day average of new cases, according to Walensky.
“The most recent seven-day average is about 53,800 cases per day, which is a slight increase from the previous seven-day period,” she said.
The weekend was the first time that over 3 million people were vaccinated on consecutive days, according to Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response.
Walensky said that relaxing mitigation measures and giving variants the opportunity to widely spread could result in another surge.
“We are at a critical point in this pandemic, a fork in the road, where we as a country must decide which path we are going to take,” Walensky said. “And I am worried that if we don’t take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge, just as we are seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccination.”
She added that the CDC is working on updating its guidelines for what activities vaccinated people can resume to include a section on travel. The first iteration of the guidance recommended vaccinated people avoid nonessential travel.