The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said all international travelers to the U.S. will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country, warning that new mutations of the virus are easier to catch. It happened on a day in which America had 4,197 deaths from COVID-19, a new record. “Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants,” the CDC said in a statement on Tuesday. “With the U.S. already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public.” “Cases are rising,” says its website. “Act now!” Read on for more of their warning—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
The mutant COVID has spread to at least 10 states
The order will go into effect on January 26. Air travelers must show documentation that they’ve tested negative for COVID within three days of their flight’s departure, or documentation that they previously had or recovered from COVID. If a passenger can’t provide that evidence, airlines can’t allow them to board, the CDC said.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield in the statement.
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A COVID-19 variant was first identified in the United Kingdom in September and has since been found in at least 10 U.S. states. Because of imprecise testing for the variant, experts say it is likely to be present in more. The mutated virus doesn’t cause more severe illness or more deaths from the disease, but it seems to be more easily passed from person to person.
“There’s no indication at all that it increases the virulence, and by virulence, I mean, the ability to make you sick or kill you,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, in an interview on Jan. 5. “In addition, it doesn’t seem to evade the protection that’s afforded by the antibodies that are induced by vaccines.”
UK researchers have also noted that people previously infected with coronavirus don’t seem to get reinfected by the new strain, he added. “Which means that the immunity that’s given to you when you get infected is protective against this particular strain.”
Still, experts say, the best course is to avoid being infected with COVID-19 by practicing prevention strategies like mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding gatherings.
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Fauci estimates that 75 to 80 percent of the American population will need to be vaccinated against COVID before herd immunity is achieved.
According to the CDC, as of Jan. 12, nearly 27.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed, and 9.3 million people have received the first of a two-dose regimen. That’s significantly behind the Trump administration’s original goal of vaccinating 20 million people by Jan. 1.
How to survive this pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.