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Does the US Require a COVID Vaccine to Enter? US Travel Restrictions in 2023

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Last updated on the 1st of June, 2023

The United States is a leading destination for travelers worldwide. New York City, Chicago, breathtaking national parks, and Los Angeles are all favorites among tourists.

Last month, the WHO declared that COVID is no longer a global health emergency threat, but what does this mean for travelers to the USA?

In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the current COVID-19 situation in the USA.

We’ll cover:

  • US COVID vaccine requirements in 2023
  • What the future holds, according to the experts
  • The current COVID numbers in the USA
  • What happens if you test positive for COVID-19
  • When you should get tested

Without further ado, let’s get started

Does the US Require a COVID Vaccine to Enter?

As of May 12 of 2023, the United States no longer requires inbound travelers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country. Additionally, a pre-travel COVID-19 test isn’t necessary.

However, does this mean that you shouldn’t care about COVID during your visit to the USA? Not exactly. Here’s what the experts have to say.

The Experts’ Take

In the past two years, COVID cases have consistently decreased from March to June and then increased in July. Could this be the end of the pandemic or just a spring dip before a new variant sparks a summer wave?

The experts agree that the risk from COVID is now low, and this spring seems different than previous years. However, the primary cause of this progress is that nowadays everyone in the US has some form of immunity against COVID. This may be because of vaccinations, past infections, or both. Besides, medicines such as Paxlovid greatly minimize the chances of severe illness as well.

Nowadays, ICU units rarely see a severe case of COVID-19. According to Dr. Taison Bell, an infectious disease physician at the University of Virginia, “We will see an occasional COVID-19 case, but we’re not seeing a lot of cases that are leading to people being on the ventilator.”

Currently, Dr. Bell mostly treats older COVID patients with pre-existing conditions or patients who haven’t been vaccinated. He emphasizes that people who are at high risk of severe infection should get a bivalent booster.

Moreover, another reason contributing to this decrease in cases is that there haven’t been any new game-changing variants.

Despite positive trends, experts remain cautious. Approximately 100,000 Americans contract COVID weekly, and over 150 die from the infection daily.

According to the New York Times, the USA has a daily average of 19,508 cases. The most affected states are:

  • California, 2,433 new daily average cases
  • Illinois, 1,223 new daily average cases
  • New York, 1,041 new daily average cases
  • Ohio, 1,002 new daily average cases
  • Michigan, 853 new daily average cases
  • Florida, 844 new daily average cases
  • Pennsylvania, 743 new daily average cases
  • Texas, 731 new daily average cases
  • North Carolina, 630 new daily average cases
  • Louisiana, 600 new daily average cases

COVID was the fourth leading cause of death in the US last year. Besides, although COVID is not as fatal as it used to be, long COVID remains a concern.

Dr. Robert Wachter, the chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, says he continues to wear a mask in crowded places. “Unlike the way I felt two or three years ago, I have no fear that I’m going to die of this thing, but I think long COVID is very real.”

What Can Travelers Do To Prevent COVID?

To prevent COVID, you should:

  • Get up to date with your vaccines before traveling
  • Wear a mask in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Take extra precautions if you were recently exposed to an infected person
  • Get tested if you develop symptoms

Additionally, you shouldn’t travel if you feel sick. But what happens if you catch COVID during your visit to the US?

What Happens If You Test Positive For COVID in the US?

Travelers who test positive for COVID while in the US may be asked to isolate themselves. This could be at a hotel or other private residence. Isolation days and requirements will vary depending on the state you’re visiting. Nevertheless, as a general rule, the CDC recommends at least five full days of isolation.

When Should You Get Tested?

Although proof of COVID vaccination for international travel is no longer necessary in the US, it’s important to remain cautious against COVID. Ultimately, who wants to miss vacation days because they got sick?

Consider getting a COVID-19 test if you:

  • Experience symptoms before, while, or after traveling
  • Plan to visit someone at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19

Need a COVID test? No matter where you are, find testing locations near you with our international directory.

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