CDC Extends Conditional Sail Order for Cruise Ships Into 2022




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CDC Holiday Safety 2021 – COVID-19 Indoor Party Tips for Vaccinated Individuals


  • Federal health officials have released new COVID-19 safety guidelines for holiday celebrations and events later this year.
  • Guidelines call for guests to be fully vaccinated if possible, as this will greatly reduce risk among those who are traveling to visit your home; after earlier guidance was revised, CDC officials also advise heading outside if at all possible.
  • Some Americans will also need to wear masks at holiday parties, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Unvaccinated guests and those who are immunocompromised will need to wear masks, and others around them may need to mask up as well — even if they’re fully vaccinated.

    Hosting a holiday party in 2020 was considered extremely risky for those that had hoped to invite family and friends living outside of their homes. While around 57% of eligible Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, top health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are stressing that more will need to sign up for a full vaccine in order to keep certain loved ones as safe as possible during the holiday season.

    Risks associated with parties and events aren’t new per se, but they’re driven in large part by the viral Delta strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to a COVID-19 diagnosis. While mostly mild in nature, the risk of breakthrough cases is higher than ever, as CDC officials indicate that a current case count of nearly 25,000 nationwide is largely underreported. Plus, other variants could pose a greater threat during the cold winter season.

    After initially posting a set of guidelines that included using a window fan to increase ventilation, CDC officials have released updated holiday guidance that stresses the need for vaccines and mask-wearing for those who cannot receive a shot. Holiday events — including Halloween costume parties, Thanksgiving dinners, Hanukkah celebrations and Christmas gift exchanges, plus all the travel around these traditions — are still risky because they’re multi-generational in nature and adding unvaccinated guests into the mix can complicate the issue, experts say.

    Older loved ones may be immunocompromised or face pre-existing conditions, whereas younger children may not receive full vaccinations in time for the holiday season. And while mask mandates are largely discontinued in many states, those who are unvaccinated must wear a well-fitted mask while indoors to reduce risk among the youngest and oldest in your family. If you’re in a city, town or neighborhood where local COVID-19 transmission is high, even those who are fully vaccinated are being asked to mask up, as experts have established that asymptomatic spread (or those who are sick without any symptoms) is still a major concern.

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    If you can guarantee that everyone on your holiday guest list is vaccinated (and have received a new booster or third dose if advised to) then COVID-19 risk factor is largely reduced, especially if you’re able to host family outside, where risks are considerably lower.

    Stay outdoors and keep masks optional in private settings

    In general, outdoor activities are safer for those who are inviting family, friends and other guests who live outside of their home over for the holidays. This may already feel normal for Halloween events, where the CDC recommends smaller groups head outside to interact with the neighborhood. For Thanksgiving, though, enjoying a shared meal outside (and any social activities like a cocktail hour or parade viewing!) will allow you to largely avoid masks altogether.

    New CDC guidelines indicate that masks can be skipped while meeting outside in uncrowded spaces. If you’re participating in a public event where crowds may congregate, or if the COVID-19 infection rate is high in your area, both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can greatly reduce the mild uptick in risk while outside by masking up.

    Inside, masks may be necessary for all guests

    While new CDC guidance doesn’t include an official tip regarding window fans, the reason that news outlets covered earlier advice is that experts have long established that poor airflow can greatly increase COVID-19 risk. Since SARS-CoV-2 is airborne, airflow that is stale or non-moving can prove dangerous for any crowd in your home. It’s why outside events are safer and why opening your windows or working on ventilation inside is a smart idea for any holiday event.

    Even with optimal indoor ventilation, masks may still need to be part of your holiday traditions this year, depending on your guest list. CDC officials indicate that masks are still required for vaccinated individuals with pre-existing conditions taking medications that may weaken their immune system; it stands to reason that your other guests and family members will also need to mask up to protect such a guest. Officials made a special note about the need for masks in this case:

    You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated.

    Consider a new way of traveling

    While masks are required on all forms of public transportation, those who are ineligible to receive a vaccine at this time — particularly children under 12 — should do their best to stay off planes, trains, buses and ferries. Your family should consider embarking on a potentially longer road trip if all members can’t be fully vaccinated ahead of time, especially if you’ll be visiting another household that houses at-risk individuals.

    At this time, CDC guidance for the holiday season indicated that frequent COVID-19 testing can help reduce the risk of becoming infected, even if testing mandates are not largely required by many states. You’ll find a full list of COVID-19 testing requirements by state published by AARP here.

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    CDC officers maintain an official checklist for unvaccinated individuals for both domestic travel as well as international travel, which includes multiple rounds of testing prior to and after arriving at your destination.

    Regardless of vaccination status, the final piece of planning holiday celebrations this year largely revolves around testing — and creating plans for quarantines in the event that you do test positive for COVID-19. You’ll find a full list of travel criteria (as well as info for certain international destinations) via the CDC’s travel guide here.

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CDC moves Ukraine to its highest level of Covid-19 travel risk


On Monday afternoon, architecturally rich Ukraine, the second-largest nation in Europe in land area, was moved up from Level 3, or “high” risk for Covid-19, to Level 4, the agency’s highest risk category.

These last two updates in October are a far cry from the situation in early August, when the CDC added 16 destinations in one week to Level 4, and Delta variant cases were rising rapidly across much of the planet.

Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria.

Popular favorites remaining on Level 4

 A view of Bonis Windmill and the Old Port of Mykonos, Greece. This popular vacation nation remains at the CDC's Level 4.

A view of Bonis Windmill and the Old Port of Mykonos, Greece. This popular vacation nation remains at the CDC’s Level 4.

Byron Smith/Getty Images

Popular international vacation spots remained lodged at this highest level of alert, evidence of Covid-19’s continuing grip. The current list of Level 4 destinations includes:

• Austria
• Bahamas
• Botswana
• Croatia
• Greece
• Ireland
• Jamaica
• Maldives
• Switzerland
• Thailand
• Turkey
• United Kingdom

In the case of the UK, it’s been lodged at Level 4 since July 19. Greece has been there since August 2. Thailand has been there since August 9.

In total, there were 77 destinations worldwide still at Level 4 on October 25.

Lots of new entries on Level 3

The Level 3 category — which applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days — saw more action this week.

Being placed in Level 3 was a sign of progress in these seven destinations, all moving down from Level 4:

• Guatemala
• Lebanon
• Libya
• Mauritius
• Puerto Rico
• Saint Martin
• Sri Lanka

For three destinations, the move to Level 3 was a sign of worsening conditions. Egypt and the Dominican Republic had been at Level 2 (“moderate” risk), and Cayman Islands had been at an enviable Level 1 (“low” risk).

Cruising on Level 3

The CDC has updated guidance on cruising on ships such as the Norwegian Gem.

The CDC has updated guidance on cruising on ships such as the Norwegian Gem.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The CDC also added cruise ships, including river vessels, to its Level 3 warning this week and advised that only fully vaccinated people cruise. The CDC said Covid-19 “spreads easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, and the chance of getting [it] on cruise ships is high.”

Some options in Level 2

Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” designation have seen 50 to 99 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

Popular destinations in this less risky category on October 25 included the following:

• Colombia
• Peru
• Poland

Just keep in mind the CDC list updates weekly, and your lower-risk destination of choice might move up after you begin making plans.

Level 1 and no ratings

In the category of “Level 1: Covid-19 Low” destinations, fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents have been logged over the past 28 days. New Zealand is in this category, but it has yet to open its doors to leisure travelers yet.

Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk because of a lack of information. As of October 25, that included Monaco, the Azores and Tanzania.

In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some Covid-19 variants,” the agency said.

Top image: A view of the left bank of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)



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Europe air travel to US won’t end, says CDC chief


An alarming rise in cases of the “delta plus” COVID-19 variant in the United Kingdom is unlikely to result in a ban on flights from Britain and Europe, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Sunday.

“We’re not anticipating that now,” Walensky said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’re absolutely following the science very, very carefully, but we are not anticipating or looking into that right now.”

The delta plus variant, identified by British scientists last month, is considered a relative of the delta variant that fueled a deadly surge across the U.S. this summer. Because it isn’t a variant of interest or concern, it has not yet been named after a letter of the Greek alphabet. The U.N. health agency is tracking about 20 variations of the delta variant.

‘Delta plus’ is ‘not a problem’: Everything to know about the subvariant and why experts aren’t worried, yet

Walensky said the U.S. has had a “handful” of cases linked to delta plus, or the AY.4.2 sublineage of the delta variant, but that it has not “taken off” as it has in the UK. The strand has not yet been linked to increased transmissibility or to decreased effectiveness of vaccines or therapeutics, she said.

Also in the news:

► All Dartmouth employees, including those who have been approved for fully remote work, must submit proof of vaccination or be approved for a medical or religious exemption by Dec. 8, the New Hampshire school announced.

► The Navajo Nation reported 61 more COVID-19 cases Saturday, but no coronavirus-related deaths for the 17th time in the past 24 days. The nation covers about 27,000 square miles of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States

► Country musician Travis Tritt, who canceled shows at venues that required a COVID-19 vaccine or mask-wearing, sang the national anthem before Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night.

► Unvaccinated people in Austria could face a lockdown if cases continue to climb and ICUs reach 25% of their capacity from COVID patients, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 45.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 735,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 243.2 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 190,400 million Americans — 57.4% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: People with mental health disorders may qualify for booster shots, which are approved for just some groups of fully vaccinated Americans. Here’s why.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Athletes wearing face masks to protect against COVID-19 and sitting distanced from each other watch the action at the ISU World Cup Short Track speed skating competition, a test event for the 2022 Winter Olympics, at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021.

After American Indian and Alaska Native children, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander children had the highest rate of COVID-19 cases, at 585 per 10,000, according to an analysis of cases through Aug. 31 by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Hispanic children came next on the list. Among white children, the rate of infection was about 354 per 10,000.

Researchers say health data collection on Native Hawaiians is generally poor, and the rates could be underestimates. Extreme weight gain among Native Hawaiian children has been a major pandemic concern, along with depression and anxiety.

“It’s extraordinary, and I think the fallout is – we haven’t even seen the fallout yet,” said Dr. Vija Sehgal, pediatric director at Waianae Comprehensive Health Center.

Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY

The amount of fentanyl seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection has increased by 51% in the first eight months of 2021 compared with 2020, according to data from the CBP. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more drugs have also been found contaminated with the deadly drug. Last month, 1,123 pounds of the drug were confiscated, compared with 702 pounds in August 2020. 

“The COVID travel restrictions hindered some aspects of land-border drug trafficking, as there was less traffic and more time could be spent examining travelers, which increased drug seizures,” Matthew Dyman, CBP public affairs officer, told USA TODAY in an email. “But with people staying home instead of going to work, there was an increased demand for drugs,” 

It’s not uncommon after disasters, such as the 9/11 attacks, to see a temporary increase reported in substance use. 

“We see with other major events people are feeling traumatized and under stress,” said Dr. Andrew Saxon, a member of the Council on Addiction Psychiatry at the American Psychiatric Association. “An easy and natural way to cope would be to take a substance, even though it usually makes it worse in the long run.”

-Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates violates federal law and will remain blocked in Williamson County, a federal judge ruled. Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw’s ruling continues to prevent Lee’s order, which the governor extended through Nov. 5, from taking effect in Williamson County’s two public school systems. Two families of children with disabilities, one each in Williamson County Schools and Franklin Special School District, sued the school districts and the state over Lee’s decision.

“Disabled students are at a significantly higher risk for severe infection and are exposed at a higher rate,” Crenshaw said in his opinion, which mirrors those by federal judges in Memphis and Knoxville. That constitutes “an irreparable harm that justifies continued injunctive relief,” he said.

-Mariah Timms, Meghan Mangrum, Duane W. Gang, The Nashville Tennessean

Contributing: The Associated Press



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CDC Ups Travel Warning as Singapore Reopens to Vaccinated U.S. Visitors


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has upped its travel warning for Singapore to the highest tier, Level 4, urging travelers to avoid visiting the city-state.

Singapore last week announced it would open its Vaccinated Travel Lanes program to several new countries, including the United States, this week, enabling fully vaccinated travelers to visit without quarantine if they follow testing protocols. While Singapore reports a vaccination rate about 82 percent, it has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, leading the CDC to warn of a “very high” level of Covid-19 in Singapore and a risk for even fully vaccinated travelers to catch and spread Covid-19 variants.

Singapore was the only new country added to the CDC’s Level 4 warning in its most recent update. Three countries were moved down to Level 3 from Level 4—Cyprus, Eswatini and Tunisia—and three were moved up to Level 3 from Level 2: Angola, Djibouti and Hungary.

Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Poland and the Republic of the Congo all moved to Level 2 in the update, and Bhutan, Paraguay, Senegal and Zambia all moved to Level 1.



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CDC Issues Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Holiday Travel


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued updated COVID-19 guidance for the upcoming holiday season, urging Americans to continue to get vaccinated and encouraging mask wearing in public spaces.

“Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible,” the agency states on its website. “Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated.”

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“Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated,” the CDC also encourages. “Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission,” it adds, noting that outdoor areas are safer than indoor spaces.

The CDC’s general advice for the holidays also includes avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated spaces; not hosting or attending a gathering if you are sick or have COVID-19 symptoms and getting tested if you have symptoms or have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

As for holiday travel, the CDC continues to recommend delaying any plans until you are fully vaccinated. “People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization can travel safely within the United States,” the agency says. However, individuals are still required to wear a face covering on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the country and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs like airports and stations.

Unvaccinated travelers are encouraged to take a viral test one to three days before their trip and again three to five days after they return home. The CDC also advises that unvaccinated individuals quarantine for at least seven days after travel.

When it comes to international travel for the holidays, the agency states that “fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants.” Regardless of vaccination status, travelers returning to the U.S. after traveling abroad will require a negative COVID-19 test result secured no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months in order to board their return flight.

Click here to view the latest CDC guidance ahead of the holidays.

For the latest insight on travel around the world, check out this interactive guide:



For the latest travel news, updates and deals, be sure to subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter here.





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CDC travel advisories: Singapore placed at Level 4, “highest risk” for Covid


(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added one new location to its list of “very high” risk travel destinations this week.

The ultramodern city-state of Singapore has moved up from Level 3, or “high” risk for Covid-19, to Level 4, the agency’s highest risk category.

This news comes on the heels of a recent decision by Singapore to further loosen restrictions and add eight new countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, to its Vaccinated Travel Lane program. Fully vaccinated people arriving from those nations can apply for a quarantine-free entry.

Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria.

People should avoid traveling to locations designated with a Level 4 notice, the CDC recommends. Anyone who must travel should be fully vaccinated first, the agency advises.
This newest update is far cry from early August, when the CDC added 16 destinations in one week to Level 4, and Delta variant cases were rising rapidly across much of the planet. This is the first week since early August that only one nation has been added to Level 4.

Popular favorites remaining on Level 4

However, other popular international vacation spots remain at this highest level of alert, evidence of Covid-19’s continuing foothold. The current list of Level 4 destinations includes the following:

• Austria
• Belize
• Botswana
• Croatia
• Greece
• Ireland
• Malaysia
• Switzerland
• Turkey
• United Kingdom

In the case of the UK, it’s been lodged at Level 4 since July 19, and Greece has been there since August 2.

New Level 3 locations

Budapest is the capital of Hungary, which was placed at Level 3 ("high" risk for Covid) by the CDC on October 18.

Budapest is the capital of Hungary, which was placed at Level 3 (“high” risk for Covid) by the CDC on October 18.

Rita Franca/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Level 3 category applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

Six new destinations were assigned to this “high” risk category, three of which moved up from Level 2:

• Angola
• Djibouti
• Hungary

The Level 3 designation was good news for people interested in the following three destinations, which previously had been at Level 4:

Cypus
Eswatini
Tunisia

Some options in Level 2

Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” designation have seen 50 to 99 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

Popular destinations in this less risky category on October 18 included the following:

• Dominican Republic
• Egypt
• Peru

Just keep in mind the CDC list updates weekly, and your lower-risk destination of choice might move up after you begin making plans.

In the category of “Level 1: Covid-19 Low” destinations, fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents have been logged over the past 28 days. New Zealand is in this category, but it has yet to open its doors to leisure travelers yet.
In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some Covid-19 variants,” the agency said.

Top image: A view of the skyline and waterfront of Singapore. (Ore Huiying/Bloomberg/Getty Images)



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CDC warns against US travel to Singapore, citing COVID-19 cases


On the eve of Singapore dropping quarantine restrictions for vaccinated travelers from the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department warned Americans not to visit the country. 

Both the CDC and State Department cited a “very high level of COVID-19” in Singapore.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the Southeast Asia country has had a record high 70,374 COVID cases in the last 28 days. Just over 82% of Singapore is fully vaccinated. That’s compared to more than 57% of the U.S., which has recorded more than 2.8 million cases over the same period.

Starting Tuesday, travelers from the U.S. can enter Singapore as long as they show proof of vaccination and they test negative on two PCR tests: once 48 hours before departure and again upon arrival. 

The State Department on Monday also urged Americans to reconsider travel to Poland, Hungary, Cyprus, Tunisia and Angola due to areas with “increased risk” of COVID-19.

Singapore travel: What to know about new rules 

Contributing: Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY



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CDC issues travel notice for Ukraine due to polio risk




By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

After the confirmation of a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) case in a young child in Rivne Oblast, Ukraine recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice for Ukraine classifying it as currently considered high risk for polio.

Image/CDC-/ Meredith Boyter Newlove, M.S., James Archer, M.S.

CDC says anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series.

In addition, CDC recommends administering a single, lifetime booster dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) to adult travelers that meet all three of the following conditions:

  • Are going to destinations considered high risk for polio
  • Have previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series
  • Have not already received an adult booster dose

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system. Good hand washing practices can help prevent the spread of this disease. Because the virus lives in the feces of an infected person, people infected with the disease can spread it to others when they do not wash their hands well after defecating. People can also be infected if they drink water or eat food contaminated with infected feces.

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Most people with polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function (paralysis). Polio can be fatal if the muscles used for breathing are paralyzed or if there is an infection of the brain.

 





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