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Puerto Rico Moves to Level 4 on CDC’s Travel Advisory List

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has added Puerto Rico to its list of Level 4 (highest risk) travel destinations. “Get fully vaccinated before traveling to Puerto Rico,” the latest recommendation reads. Level 4 also carries the message, “Avoid travel to this destination” on the page defining the levels.

For Puerto Rico, this classification could have severe economic consequences. Tourism is an important part of the Island’s economy, and Puerto Rico has been working hard to encourage conferences and business travel to the Island as well.

And yet, Puerto Rico, which has had stricter restrictions than most States, has had fewer cases of COVID-19 than many of the States. Why is Puerto Rico on the “don’t travel” list, and those states are not?

What does Level 4 mean?

The CDC has four levels of risk for any given location:

  • Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19
    • Avoid travel to this destination.
  • Level 3: High level of COVID-19
    • Make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.
    • Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to this destination.
  • Level 2: Moderate level of COVID-19
    • Make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.
    • Unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid nonessential travel to this destination. If you must travel and have concerns, talk to your doctor.
  • Level 1: Low level of COVID-19
    • Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to this destination.

(From the CDC website)

Level 4 is used for locations that have had more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people in the past 28 days. However, the list that has been in the headlines includes only “international destinations and U.S. territories.”

Level 4 states

Guam was added to the CDC “don’t travel” list at the same time as Puerto Rico. No State is on the list simply because States don’t go on that list.

But Puerto Rico is not worse off than the States when it comes to COVID-19 infections.

For example, Puerto Rico has had 50,326 total cases per million in population, while Arkansas has had 150,073 per million in population – almost three times more. North Dakota has had 154,183 per million in population – again, proving to be a more dangerous destination than Puerto Rico.

So does the CDC ignore these and all the other States which have high levels of transmission? By no means. Here is the CDC’s map showing the risk levels of the States as well as the territories:

All 50 States, as well as all 5 territories, are at Level 4 for community transmission.

Why are States not on the destinations list?

It would be difficult to argue that Puerto Rico is a destination and Hawaii is not. The CDC doesn’t make that argument. They just list “Puerto Rico (US)” along with foreign destinations on its don’t travel list.

Some States have attempted to keep travelers from coming into their borders at various points in the pandemic. Currently, only Hawaii (and Puerto Rico, which is not a State) require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 testing. The remaining 49 States have given up travel restrictions.

The CDC distinguishes between domestic travel, which includes Puerto Rico, and international travel, which also includes Puerto Rico. In doing so, the U.S. government entity reflects widespread confusion about Puerto Rico, resulting in possible economic implications as tourists and business travelers are encouraged to stay away.

3 thoughts on “Puerto Rico Moves to Level 4 on CDC’s Travel Advisory List”

  1. Don’t know why the CDC thinks that travel to P.R. is more dangerous than travel to, say FLORIDA! I DO agree that ANY person coming to P.R. be FULLY vaccinated and show proof of that. If the CDC does not show the comparison between states, then it MUST be political!! The CDC is a medical org., NOT a political org. and should act as such.

  2. I think it’s political… there are more States in the mainland higher risk ALABAMA, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, NEW YORK. Bottom line no where is safe…we take risk just walking out our homes🤷🏾🙏

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