The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Americans to "please limit travel" amid a noticeable rise in Americans taking to the skies as well as increasing COVID-19 cases.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Monday that more Americans have traveled for Spring Break than during the Christmas and New Year's holidays — noticeable on the nation's beaches and in its airports. Since March 11, the Transportation Security Administration has screened more than 1 million passengers per day in U.S. airports over 19 consecutive days.
"We have been consistently discouraging travel, saying, 'Please keep it limited to only essential travel,'" Walensky said. "I think people have taken advantage of what they perceived as a relative paucity of cases, a relative lull in where we were, to take advantage of their time of spring break, of holiday travel. And what I would just say is… we've seen surges after every single holiday… And we're seeing the uptick of that right now."
In fact, the advice comes as the U.S. is recording just under 60,000 new cases per day over a seven-day average, leaving Walensky with a "recurring feeling" of "impending doom."
"We know that cases sometimes can be a week or two behind the behaviors that lead to those cases, the mixing that leads to those cases," Walensky said. "We know that travel is up, and I just worry that we will see the surges that we saw over the summer and over the winter again."
If people do travel, the CDC recommends they get tested before they travel and again when they return home, quarantining for seven days.
While officials are asking people to limit travel for now, that doesn't mean that will always be the case, and the idea of vaccine passports has been gaining traction both in the U.S. and around the world. But Andy Slavitt, a White House senior advisor for the COVID-19 response, said the private sector will be taking the lead in the U.S.
"This is going to hit… all parts of society. And so, naturally, the government is involved," Slavitt said. "But unlike other parts of the world, the government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens."
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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