US Judge Kills CDC Mask Mandate, Biden Announces New Covid Summit, US Removes All Countries from Travel Risk

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Judge strikes down CDC mask mandate for travel 

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The White House on Monday announced it would co-host a global COVID-19 summit in May, in a bid to boost efforts to vaccinate the world.

The announcement comes as efforts to fight the virus globally have hit roadblocks, including $5 billion for global COVID-19 aid being stripped out of a relief package in Congress amid a dispute over how to pay for it.

The summit, scheduled to be held virtually on May 12, will be co-hosted by the United States; Belize, chair of the Caribbean Community; Germany, the G-7 president; Indonesia, the G-20 president; and Senegal, chair of the African Union.

“In advance of the May 12 Summit, we are calling on world leaders, members of civil society, non-governmental organizations, philanthropists, and the private sector to make new commitments and bring solutions to vaccinate the world, save lives now, and build better health security — for everyone, everywhere,” the White House said in a statement.

The stalled funding in Congress complicates the White House’s efforts to boost the global vaccine push.

CDC removes all countries from highest COVID travel risk category

A Center for Disease Control official is seen as Afghans displaced from their homes due to the Taliban takeover arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va. on Monday, August 30, 2021.
Greg Nash

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday removed all the remaining countries from its highest coronavirus risk advisory category.

The designation, now known as “Level 4: Special Circumstances/Do Not Travel,” warns travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to the countries and urges vaccinations in the event travel is required, the CDC’s website said.

More than 100 locations, including Australia, Canada, France and the U.K., are still listed at the agency’s “Level 3: COVID-19 High” warning.

“Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before traveling to these destinations. If you are not up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, avoid travel to these destinations,” the advisory for that level said.

Many of the Level 3 locations were listed as Level 4 as recently as Sunday. At that time, the level was known as “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High.”

But last week, the agency announced that it would reserve “Level 4” warnings “for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse,” according to a statement.

“With this new configuration, travelers will have a more actionable alert for when they should not travel to a certain destination (Level 4), regardless of vaccination status, until we have a clearer understanding of the COVID-19 situation at that destination,” the statement added.

Earlier this month, the CDC said that 2021 was the deadliest year in American history due to the pandemic. The data published through the end of the third quarter of 2021 indicated that the U.S. saw a death rate of 1,058.8 per 100,000 people.

Those figures marked a nearly 10 percent increase over the 12-month period the prior year and a 21 percent jump from 2019.

The pandemic caused 415,000 American deaths last year, according to the CDC.

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