CDC Urges Travelers To Reconsider Visits To Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Switzerland

Puerto Rico and Switzerland are among seven destinations added to a growing list of places that travelers should avoid because of high levels of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.

Switzerland and Puerto Rico were joined on the list by Guam, Estonia, Saint Lucia, Azerbaijan, and North Macedonia. They have been labeled as “Level 4: Very High-Risk” destinations by the CDC.

The health organization also added 10 countries to “Level 3: High Risk,” including Canada, Germany, Bermuda, and Moldova — which moved up from Level 2 — and Bahrain, Indonesia, Oman, Namibia, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe, which moved down from Level 4.

Destinations that fall into the Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 4 weeks, making them a very high-risk territory. The CDC says travelers should avoid those destinations and only go if they are fully vaccinated. But even that comes with a warning.

“Even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the CDC says.

White House press secretary Jen Paski stressed Monday that all travel restrictions apply primarily to the unvaccinated.

“The fastest path to reopening travel is for people to get vaccinated, mask up, and slow the spread of the deadly virus,” Paski said.

The CDC now has 81 destinations listed at Level 4, including popular locations such as France, Spain, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Greece, Thailand, and Iceland. It also includes most of the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Martinique, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Saint Martin.

Meanwhile, the CDC is urging any American who is not vaccinated to stay home over Labor Day weekend.

“Given where we are with disease transmission right now, we would say that people need to take these risks into their own consideration as they think about travel,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said. “If you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling.”

The United States is averaging about 130,000 new cases per day, and hospitals all across the country are being overrun with new patients. ICUs in many states have run out of beds.

Walensky said any gatherings over Labor Day weekend should be held outdoors, if possible, and to mask up when indoors.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen that the vast majority of transmission takes place among unvaccinated people in closed, indoor settings,” Walensky said. “Masks are not forever, but they are for now.”