Afraid Of Coronavirus, EU, World Destinations Shun U.S. Travelers


Does the world see America now as a modern-day leper colony that needs to be contained? That may seem harsh, but right now most countries are more concerned with our disease than our dollars. With one in one hundred Americans infected with the coronavirus, countries formerly wide open to US visitors are slamming their doors.

It’s the height of the summer travel season, yet few Americans are traveling internationally. Many of us are struggling financially or with health concerns and local restrictions, and the decline in air travel has been well-documented. The CEO of American Airlines may have called for US travelers to “Let’s Go Fly for G-d’s Sake,” but few are heeding the call.

But even if Americans could travel, most destinations will not accept US visitors and the risk that accompanies them, due to the high US coronavirus rate.

When the European Union “opened” to internal and external tourists at the beginning of July, the United States was a conspicuous absence from the list of countries whose residents could visit, like Canada, Australia and South Korea.

The European Union has a defacto travel ban on countries testing over a certain threshold for the novel coronavirus.

The policy in Lithuania for example, a member of the EU since 2004, is currently to allow access to fellow EU members and citizens of the UK. That is, “provided the incidence of COVID-19 (coronavirus infection) in the country where they lawfully reside has not exceeded 25 cases/100 000 population in the last 14 calendar days,” according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. As of July 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S rate was a sobering 1,128.3 cases per 100,000 peope.

When the EU initially barred US travelers due to the high rate of coronavirus, the US had 2.7 million infections as of June 30, according to Johns Hopkins data. Since then, the US coronavirus rate, as well as the list of countries banning US travelers, has only grown. As of July 20, the World Health Organization reports that almost 3.7 million cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the US. One report even claims US coronavirus cases may actually be 10 times higher than the data shows.

As for possible travel destinations for Americans, a recent CNN story listed just nine countries that are open to US citizens. The Balkans are possible, as Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia are “open” to Americas, as are the Maldives, Tunisia and Turkey. Closer to home, there is the Dominican Republic and Mexico, although Mexico does not currently permit driving in over the border. Higher-end travelers flying to Mexican resorts are apparently A-OK.

Travel publications like to put the best face on a bad situation, running stories like “Here’s Where Americans Can Go.” The reality is that most countries have banned Americans, but a few leave it up to the individual to prove he is disease free. The UAE, for example, will require travelers from high-risk countries (Americans can look in the mirror) to take a Covid-19 test no more than 4 days before their scheduled flight.

The European Union is the most prominent international entity now barring Americans, but countries from Canada to China deny Americans entry. The latest indignity was the Bahamas closing its border to Americans. Some might see this as the travel equivalent of the US losing to Trinidad and Tobabgo and failing to qualify for the World Cup soccer finals in 2018.

In the Bahamas, air and sea travel to the US will be shut off this week, although tourists from the EU, Britain and Canada will still be allowed if they show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test. The Bahamas Prime Minister pointed to recent surges in COVID-19 cases and deaths as the reason for the ban on Americans.

Sadly, by most measures the United States is indeed Number One when it comes to coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, the US is by far the leader in total number of cases, with 3,685,460, Brazil is #2 with 2,074,860, and India is 3rd, with 1,118,043. WHO statistics show the US is also the leader in total COVID-19 deaths, with 139,498, followed by Brazil, 78,772, and the UK, 45,300.

Measured by number of cases per million, the United States is 10th, behind 9 much smaller nations. Qatar leads the lists with 38,121 cases per million, meaning nearly 4% of the population has been infected. French Guiana, Bahrain, and tiny San Marino all have more than 20,000 cases per million population, or 2%. Chile, with 17,414 cases per million, and Vatican City, with a rate of 14,981 (although its population is just 801) follow. The WHO says the US rate is 11,919 cases per million, about 1.2% of the population.

Of course, Americans are not supposed to travel internationally now anyway. The State Department has maintained its Level 4 travel advisory urging Americans to avoid all international travel because of COVID-19. And yes, the US still has its own travel restrictions in place. For example, Americans are banned from China, while Chinese nationals are barred from the US.

Nonetheless, it is hard to escape the idea that until we get our house in order, the rest of the world sees the US as a disease-ridden danger.



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