Experts urge continued caution as CDC declares people vaccinated against Covid-19 are at low risk while traveling
In the continued move toward a sense of normalcy in the Covid-19 pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves.
The agency said that as long as coronavirus precautions are taken, including mask wearing, fully vaccinated people can travel within the United States without first getting tested for Covid-19 or self-quarantining following trips.
The CDC considers someone fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
It has been nearly 109 days since the first Covid-19 vaccine shot was administered in the US, and nearly 102 million people in the country have since received at least one dose, the agency said. With more than 30.6 million people having been infected with the virus and 554,074 people who have died of it, experts and officials are racing to get the population vaccinated before a possible fourth surge of cases.
And though progress is being made with President Joe Biden saying Friday that a record 20 million vaccine doses were administered this week, health experts warn that more progress is needed before all Americans can consider the fight against the pandemic over.
The CDC still advises anyone who has not received the vaccine to avoid travel. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said she is still concerned about the pandemic and advises against non-essential travel altogether.
“I still continue to worry that with 80% of the population unvaccinated that we still have a lot of work to do to control this pandemic,” Walensky said.
On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration screened 1,580,785 people at airports, surpassing last Sunday’s record during the pandemic of 1.57 million travelers, according to the agency.
Friday was the 23rd straight day with more than one million air travelers, particularly during spring break.
CDC updating guidance as science evolves
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue to monitor Covid-19 data and update its travel guidance as the science evolves, Walensky said during a virtual White House briefing on Friday.
“The science on Covid-19 is constantly evolving. We will continue to monitor the evidence and provide updates as we learn more. With so many people still unvaccinated, it is important that everyone — regardless of vaccination status — continue to take prevention measures in public and adhere to our guidance on ways to reduce the spread of Covid-19,” Walensky said. “Wear a mask, socially distance, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands frequently.”
New guidance was also released Friday for cruise ship operators. The ships, which were early sites of the virus’ outbreaks, will have to operate practice cruises with volunteers before taking on paying customers, the CDC said.
Cruise ship operators will have to report coronavirus cases every day, instead of weekly, the CDC says in the new guidance. They also have to make vaccination of crew and port staff part of their plans.
States expand eligibility, fearing a surge
CNN medical analyst Leana Wen said she fears a fourth surge of the virus’ in the US as states lift precautions and variants continue to spread. And some state leaders share her concern.
“It’s clear that in Oregon, and across the country, the fourth surge of this virus is at our doorstep,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said. “While Oregon’s case numbers, fortunately, haven’t matched those of other states seeing large spikes, our numbers are rising.”
“I know we’re all fed up with a pandemic, physical distancing and mask wearing, but we are in the last few miles of the marathon,” Brown said.
And with cases rising in Vermont, the state’s Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said he is “very concerned” that hospitalizations and deaths will follow.
With cases numbers increasing in West Virginia, the state expanded Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and older, Gov. Jim Justice said Friday.
Alabama will also expand vaccine access to all 16 and older residents starting April 5, Gov. Kay Ivey said Friday.
“Truly, this vaccine is our ticket back to normal life. We are so close to getting Covid-19 in the rearview, and until then, we should all keep wearing our masks, get vaccinated and use the common sense the good Lord gave us,” the governor said in a press release.
2,600 cases of a rare condition in young children
Severe illness due to Covid-19 is still extremely rare among children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Even rarer is a condition associated with Covid-19 called MIS-C. More than 2,600 children have been diagnosed with the condition, according to new numbers that the CDC have been tracking since May.
Of those 2,617 cases, 33 children with MIS-C have died.
Symptoms typically include breathing trouble, stomach problems, heart problems, lesions in the mucous membranes (such as inside the mouth), skin problems and extreme inflammation.
The numbers of cases spiked in December but have started fall off as of March. Another 557 more cases have been reported since February 8.
Scientists still have a lot of questions as to why some children develop MIS-C after they’ve had, or been exposed, to Covid-19. MIS-C cases are tracked in 48 states, Puerto Rico and Washington DC. Additional cases are under investigation.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Chuck Johnston, Lauren Mascarenhas, Deidre McPhillips, Maegan Vazquez, Jacqueline Howard, Chris Boyette, Anjali Huynh, Jen Christensen, Heather Law and Gregory Lemos contributed to this report.
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