The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging Americans who are not vaccinated to avoid travel over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky spoke during a White House press briefing on Tuesday about the matter, stating that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals needed to be cautious during the holiday. While individuals who are vaccinated “can travel,” she said, they still need to weigh in on other risks to determine whether doing so is a good idea or not.
But for those who haven’t yet been vaccinated, Walensky’s message was much clearer.
“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” the CDC head said.
Jeffrey Zients, who serves as the White House’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator, made similar statements during the press briefing.
“As people across the country prepare for Labor Day weekend, it’s critical that being vaccinated is part of their pre-holiday checklist,” he said.
Health experts largely agree that vaccination remains the best way to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Many attribute the current spike in infections and hospitalizations across the U.S. to those who are not vaccinated.
Indeed, while vaccinated individuals may still contract the virus or even require hospitalization, they do so at significantly lower rates than those who are unvaccinated. One CDC study even found that unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to need hospitalization than vaccinated people, and a separate study now suggests that those who have received their shots for protection against the virus are much less likely to spread it as well.
Thirty-one percent of Americans are planning to travel during the Labor Day weekend this year, according to a recent TripAdvisor survey. But with the highly contagious Delta variant of coronavirus still spreading across the country, that number of travelers across the country could have disastrous public health outcomes.
Just 52 percent of Americans are currently considered fully vaccinated, according to recent figures from The New York Times. The daily average of new cases being reported sits at over 160,000, the highest that number has been since January. More than 1,346 Americans are dying each day, on average, which is an increase of 93 percent on that measure just in the past two weeks.
In addition to being fully vaccinated, travelers should also wear masks, Walensky said on Tuesday, particularly in indoor settings outside of their own homes.
“Given the high transmissibility of the Delta variant and the significant community transmission in this country, wearing a mask is the easiest way for anyone, regardless of your vaccination status, to slow the spread of disease,” she added.