Throughout the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have updated a travel advisory list of the world’s countries letting Americans know which are the safest to travel to.
Today, the CDC has updated two popular Caribbean islands to the “Level 4: Avoid Travel” level due to rising COVID-19 infections. Both Puerto Rico and St. Lucia are now at Level 4 along with five others: Azerbaijan, Estonia, Guam, North Macedonia and Switzerland. The CDC also moved Bermuda, Canada and Germany up a level to Level 3 as cases rise in those places.
Per the CDC, a country moves to Level 4 when it sees over 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days. The CDC is recommending only fully vaccinated travelers leave the country at this time and never for leisure travel to places with a Level 4 warning.
The CDC published the following warning on their website:
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.
Why Did the CDC Make the Change?
Puerto Rico finding its way on the Level 4 list is troubling as the US territory has a higher vaccination rate than the mainland United States. 74% of Puerto Ricans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and about 63% are fully vaccinated against the virus.
St. Lucia is another story, however. Only 15% of the population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and only 20% of the island has received their first inoculation. From June through July, St. Lucia averaged under 10 new cases a day, but with August came a troubling spike in which the country broke its previous record of 72 new cases last February with a whopping 337 new cases on August 28th.
Just this week, Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico for its first call on the port since the start of the pandemic. Most of the 1,300+ passengers on board were fully vaccinated against the virus.