Earlier today, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Rochelle Walensky, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Andy Slavitt — the White House senior adviser for COVID response — held an update on the nation’s vaccination efforts. Walensky indicated that her agency is in the process of updating their guidelines for vaccinated Americans who intend to travel.
Q: What’s your guidance for people who have been vaccinated when it comes to going on vacation? Because the TSA just reported that Sunday was its busiest air travel day of the year so far.
Walensky: As we’ve articulated before, CDC is working on updated guidance for what you can do if you’re vaccinated, and that will include travel.
But I want to, sort of, go back to what Andy said, and that is: Much of the travel, we know, is related to people who are going on spring break. For the most part, people who go on spring break are not the demographic that we’ve been focusing in on travel. 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 — they mix with people who are not vaccinated.
We currently are at a situation — if we look at our European friends — we just don’t want to be at this rapid uptick of cases again, and that is very possible that that could happen. We’ve seen that. We’re behind the eight ball when that starts to happen. And that results in uptick of cases, hospitalizations, and then death. So we’re so close to vaccinating so many more people. So I would just encourage people and remind people: Now is not the time to travel.
Americans could probably use that updated guidance on how best to travel after vaccination sooner rather than later. Earlier in the briefing, Slavitt said, “There are now a total of 81 million people — or nearly 1 in 3 adults — with at least one vaccine dose in the U.S., and 44 million who are fully vaccinated. Nearly 69 percent of seniors have now received their first vaccination, and 42 percent are fully vaccinated.” Sure, college students make up the bulk of spring-break travelers, but other holidays are coming up: Passover is at the end of this week, Easter is a week from Sunday, and lots of public and private schools will be off either this week, next week, or the week after that.
Americans are itching to travel, and a lot of those tens of millions of Americans with one or two shots will be intending to see their children, grandchildren, or friends for the spring holidays. If the CDC wants to influence Americans’ travel decisions, they need to get their guidance and recommendations out before Americans pack up and hit the road.