Coronavirus: CDC still urges people to avoid travel, including those fully vaccinated

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to urge Americans to avoid travel amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, even if they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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The agency released new guidelines Monday for Americans who have been fully vaccinated, meaning that at least two weeks have passed since they’ve gotten their final vaccine doses.

The recommendations loosened some restrictions for vaccinated individuals, allowing for small, unmasked gatherings indoors of fully vaccinated people. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said fully vaccinated people can also gather with unvaccinated people in small groups, unmasked, provided none of the unvaccinated people and no unvaccinated people within their households are at high risk for severe cases of COVID-19.

>> Related: Coronavirus: CDC releases guidance for vaccinated Americans

“At this time, the CDC is not adjusting current guidance on travel,” Walensky said Monday at a news conference with the White House COVID-19 Response Team. “We would like to give the opportunity for vaccinated grandparents to visit their children and grandchildren who are healthy and who are local, but our travel guidance currently has been unchanged.”

The travel guidelines, last updated by the CDC last month, warn Americans that “cases are extremely high” and they should “avoid travel” unless essential.

“(The) CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time,” the guidelines say. “Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. … You and your travel companions (including children) may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to family, friends and community during and after your travel.”

>> Related: CDC: ‘All people’ should avoid cruise ship travel due to COVID-19 risk

In a statement obtained by CNN, industry group Airlines For America highlighted a recent study that showed airplanes posed a low risk of spreading COVID-19 due to advanced ventilation and filtration systems used on aircraft. The group also pointed to federally mandated mask-wearing as a mitigating factor, CNN reported.

“We remain confident that this layered approach significantly reduces risk,” the group said.

>> Read the CDC’s full travel guidance

As of Monday morning, 60 million Americans have received at least one dose of one of the available COVID-19 vaccines, according to the latest data available from the CDC. About 31.4 million people across the U.S. have so far been fully vaccinated, officials said, amounting to 9.5% of the total population.

The U.S. continues to lead the world with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. As of Tuesday morning, 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with the viral infection, resulting in over 524,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Globally, 117.2 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in 2.6 million deaths.