The CDC Moved Dozens of Countries to Its Lowest COVID Warning Status

It's harder now for a country to get added to Level 4, and everything looks a little different this week.

cdc travel advisory update
Photo by GagliardiPhotography/Shutterstock

On April 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offered the first update of its COVID-19-related travel warnings since announcing the previous week that it was updating the criteria behind each warning level. (The update arrived the same day that a judge ended the mask mandate for planes and airports.)

Previously, Level 4, the highest warning level in the CDC system, had more than a hundred countries listed. Countries will now only be added to Level 4 when they have "special circumstances," according to the CDC. As of April 18, no countries have been given that designation. 

Countries listed at Level 4 last week have been bumped down to Level 3. Meanwhile, 29 countries have been moved to "level unknown," and 29 were shifted all the way down to Level 1. The list of countries with a "low" (Level 1) COVID-19 travel advisory now includes China, the Bahamas, the Philippines, Colombia, Kenya, and Taiwan, among others.

The changed system will certainly result in fewer countries hitting that Level 4 designation. That's still considered "avoid travel" territory, but the CDC has not shared a strict definition of how a country gets there. Instead, it will be a level where "special circumstances" are at play. It had previously been used for countries or territories that had more than 500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days. Levels 3, 2, and 1 will continue to be defined by case rates over the last 28 days. 

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.