With Covid surge, US to keep travel restrictions for now

Rising cases at home, particularly among the unvaccinated, prompt rethink on easing travel curbs

With a surge in Covid-19 cases among unvaccinated in the US because of the Delta variant, first noticed in India, the White House plans to keep restrictions on international travel in place for now.

“The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.

“Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated, and appears likely to continue in the weeks ahead,” she said

“So, given where we are today with the Delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons,” Psaki said indicating a rethink on President Joe Biden’s earlier plans to ease travel restrictions.

“CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) just advised Americans against travel to the United Kingdom this past Monday, given the surge in cases,” she noted.

Read: Indian Americans hopeful US may lift India travel ban soon (July 22, 2021)

“At the same time, we are seeing a significant rise in cases in certain parts of the country and amongst certain populations, and they’re concentrated primarily and overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated.”

Asked if the administration was weighing broader recommendations on telling Americans not to go to some places, like the UK, Psaki said, “For any of these recommendations, we are always going to be guided by our North Star — and that is the CDC and our health and medical experts.”

The rising cases also are causing the administration to take a closer look at policies on wearing masks. Some state and local officials have reinstated masking guidance, even for vaccinated Americans.

First detected in India, the delta variant is a mutated coronavirus that spreads more easily than other versions but now has been identified around the world.

Last week, US health officials said the variant accounts for an estimated 83% of US Covid-19 cases, and noted a 32% increase in Covid hospitalizations from the previous week.

Read: With Covid surge, US to keep travel restrictions for now (July 26, 2021)

But Psaki Monday skirted questions from reporters on why the administration hadn’t yet issued its own vaccination mandates for healthcare workers, deferring to the CDC for guidance and hospitals and healthcare associations on the ultimate decision.

“The president certainly recognizes that he is not always the right voice to every community about the benefits of getting vaccinated, which is why we have invested as much as we have in local voices and empowering local trusted voices,” she said.

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