Stricter travel rules to begin Monday, amid US COVID surge
After COVID numbers appeared to decrease as more Americans became fully vaccinated, the Thanksgiving holidays have given way to an increase in coronavirus cases within the U.S.
According to CNN, for the first time in two months, the US is averaging more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases each day.
This concerning uptick in cases appears as U.S. travel restrictions tighten.
Beginning Monday, international travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within one day of departure for the US, according to the Biden administration. Before this new mandate, a test could be taken up to three days before entering the country.
Besides this, any foreign national who travels to the US must be fully vaccinated, though there is no vaccination requirement for American citizens for air travel, neither globally nor domestically.
That said, the White House has insinuated that a vaccine requirement for domestic travel remains on the table as a future option.
The reason for this consideration is apparent upon consideration of the latest COVID-related U.S. data.
As of Saturday, John Hopkins University reported that the seven-day moving average of new cases was 121,437.
Unfortunately, the nation's number of COVID-related deaths has also increased. CNN cites data John Hopkins as revealing a seven-day average of 1,651 people dying from the virus each day and adds that average daily deaths haven't been this high in more than a month.
Though most of the new cases in the US are from the Delta variant, as of Saturday, US health officials have detected the new Omicron coronavirus variant in at least 16 states, including Louisiana.
The first case was found in California on Wednesday, and by the weekend the variant had been identified in Louisiana as well as 14 other states: Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Scientists are still working to determine the severity and transmissibility of Omicron, and their research may take weeks.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the positive news amid this grim situation is that the US is more equipped now to deal with the newly detected variant than it was during the onset of the pandemic.
"We are in such a different place now than we were one year ago because we've learned a lot more. We have vaccines available. We have far more tests available, and what we've got to do to get through this winter is to make sure that we are doubling down on our vaccination strategy," Murthy told CNN.
The surgeon general encouraged mitigation efforts, which include wearing masks, following proper hand hygiene, and the practice of physical distancing.
The latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that just under 60 percent of the total US population is fully vaccinated, and nearly 23 percent of those individuals have received a booster.
Additionally, data from the US Department of Health and Human Services notes that over 59,000 Americans are hospitalized with COVID-19.
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