Nowadays, the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Covid-19 Travel Recommendations seem to change as frequently as the Kardashians’ wardrobes. Every week there are new additions to the list of destinations considered Level 4, the highest of four Covid-19 risk levels. Destinations at Level 4 or “Very High Covid-19 Risk” are deemed by the CDC as places that you should avoid traveling to, regardless of whether you are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. This past week five new destinations ascended to Level 4: Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. So you may want to postpone that trip to the Museum of Malformations of the Human Body in Hrodna, Belarus, until some time later in 2022.
Four of these five leveled up destinations are located in either Eastern Europe or Southeastern Europe. That’s because that region of the world has been experiencing a Covid-19 surge, even more so than many other parts of the world. On Thursday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) tweeted out the following map of Europe showing the recorded Covid-19 activity as determined by the number of reported Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people and the percentage of Covid-19 coronavirus tests that are coming back positive:
On the map, orange is the new uh-oh. As you can see, the darker orange, maroonish color represents the highest Covid-19 activity level. There are more than a maroon five countries in the Eastern Europe and Baltic areas.
At the same time, many of these Eastern European countries have Covid-19 vaccination rates that fall well below the 74.7% of adults fully vaccinated rate for the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) overall, based on the ECDC Covid-19 vaccine tracker. For example, in Romania, only 34.8% its adult population are fully vaccinated. Bulgaria’s number is even lower at 23.6%. So it’s not too surprising that such countries are in the midst of a severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) surge. After all, as the Southern portion of the U.S. has demonstrated, the virus can spread much more readily in locations where vaccination rates are lower.
Over the past two weeks, eleven new destinations leveled up to the CDC’s Level 4 designation. Back on October 4, the CDC had moved six destinations (Armenia, Austria, Barbados, Croatia, Latvia, and New Caledonia) up to this “avoid travel to” group. As I’ve described previously for Forbes, the four Covid-19 risk levels are all about the numbers. Destinations become Level 4 when the number of reported Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days (which is a little over two Scaramuccis) goes above 500. There are now just over a hundred destinations around the world at this highest level. They range from Afghanistan to Costa Rica to Serbia to the United Kingdom.
We’ve got to level with you. There is some good news from the CDC Covid-19 Travel Recommendations this past week. One destination did move from Level 4 to Level 3. That destination is Spain, home of the second largest chair in the world. That means that Spain’s number of reported Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 28 days has dropped to within the 100 to 500 range. For Level 3 destinations, the CDC tells you to “make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to these destinations.” Level 3 destinations are considered “High” risk for Covid-19, which doesn’t sound great but is still better than “Very High” risk. So if you can’t see the largest chair in the world in Austria, you can always go to Lucena, Spain, for the runner-up.
These days planning travel, especially international travel, can seem like planning a date with someone who really likes drama. Things can change from a week-to-week, potentially even a day-to-day basis. So stay like Spanx, be as flexible as possible. You may have to keep things tight and close to deadlines when making decisions.
If you must travel to a Level 4 destination, take all the Covid-19 precautions that you can. Make sure that you are fully vaccinated. But treat vaccination like you would a pair of holey underwear. Don’t make it your sole line of defense. Instead layer on at least three levels of protection at all times. Try to stay outdoors as much as you can. Wear a face mask whenever you are anywhere near people. Avoid crowded or poorly ventilated locations. This is not the time to make friends with people in dungeons. Maintain social distancing at all times such as keeping at least six feet away from everyone else. That’s about 1.09 times a Halep since Romanian tennis star Simona Halep is about five foot six inches tall.
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