CDC Makes Sweeping Overhaul to Key COVID-19 Metric

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
October 4, 2022Health
CDC Makes Sweeping Overhaul to Key COVID-19 Metric
Exterior of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) headquarters is seen in Atlanta on Oct. 13, 2014. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday made another sweeping change to one of its pandemic-era responses.

The federal health agency dropped its country-by-country COVID-19 travel health notices that it began issuing when COVID-19 started spreading in the United States in early 2020. Fewer countries are testing for the virus or reporting cases, making it more difficult to calculate travelers’ chances of contracting the virus, the CDC told news outlets.

It said that “as fewer countries are testing or reporting COVID-19 cases, CDC’s ability to accurately assess the COVID-19 (travel health notice) levels for most destinations that American travelers visit is limited.”

CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said that the health agency will only post a travel health notice for an individual country if a new variant emerges and if the CDC has to change travel recommendations for that country. The new change went into effect on Oct. 3.

As recently as March, the CDC recommended against travel to about 120 countries and territories worldwide, or more than half of all destinations.

The notices had deterred some Americans from travel and on occasion sparked consternation in some countries. A recommendation not to travel to Japan in May 2021, months before the Olympics, drew widespread attention.

The CDC is still recommending that travelers stay “up to date” on COVID-19 vaccines and follow recommendations found on its website. A travel page divides countries into several categories, including avoiding nonessential travel, enhanced precautions, and practicing usual precautions.

Other Rules Dropped

In early April, the CDC dropped a “do not travel” warning for about 90 separate countries and other locations due to COVID-19. That label will only be used for special circumstances, the agency said.

A federal judge in Florida issued a ruling on April 18 against the agency’s mask mandate for planes, trains, and buses. On June 10, the CDC ended its requirement that people who are flying to the United States have to provide a negative COVID-19 test before getting on a plane, although the agency still requires non-citizens traveling by air to show proof of vaccination.

A view of the Royal-class cruise ship “Sky Princess” operated by Bermuda-based Princess Cruises of Carnival Corp., off the coast of Cyprus’ southern city of Limassol on March 30, 2021. (Amir Makar/AFP via Getty Images)

The CDC in July ended its COVID-19 reporting program for cruise ships, prompting several operators to drop mask, vaccine, and testing requirements.

“While cruising poses some risk of COVID-19 transmission,” the CDC had said, adding that “CDC will continue to publish guidance to help cruise ships continue to provide a safer and healthier environment for crew, passengers, and communities going forward.”

The CDC under former President Donald Trump posted its first COVID-related travel warning for China in January 2020, drawing condemnation from his critics.

During the later stages of his 2020 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly said that he shut down U.S. travel from China—where the virus emerged in late 2019—to protect American lives.

Previous Overhauls

One of the most significant changes to the CDC’s guidance came in August when the agency moved to revise its longstanding COVID-19 mitigation protocols, and the agency changed how it makes determinations on vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

The guidelines from the federal agency no longer recommend staying at least six feet away from other people to reduce exposure. The six-foot social distancing recommendation had been intact since early 2020, although some public health officials have addressed questions about the effectiveness of the measure.

“CDC’s COVID-19 prevention recommendations no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status because breakthrough infections occur, though they are generally mild, and persons who have had COVID-19 but are not vaccinated have some degree of protection against severe illness from their previous infection,” the CDC said at the time.

The Epoch Times has contacted the CDC for comment.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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