Apr. 2—The journey back to normalcy after COVID-19 took another step forward on Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance Friday to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward.
Still, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urged caution and said she would "advocate against general travel overall" given the rising number of infections.
"If you are vaccinated, it is lower risk," she said.
According to the CDC, more than 100 million people in the U.S. — or about 30% of the population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose.
For people who haven't been fully vaccinated, the CDC is sticking to its recommendation to avoid unnecessary travel. If they do travel, the agency says to get tested one to three days before the trip, and three to five days after. People should also stay home and quarantine for seven days after travel, even if their COVID-19 test is negative, the agency says.
Previously, the agency had cautioned against unnecessary travel even for vaccinated people, but noted that it would update its guidance as more people got vaccinated and evidence mounted about the protection the shots provide.
"Every day you get more data, and you change your guidance based on the existing data," said Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska's College of Public Health.
The new guidance is as follows:
—Fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S., without getting tested for the coronavirus or quarantining. People should still wear a mask, socially distance and avoid crowds, the CDC says.
—For international travel, the agency says vaccinated people do not need to get a COVID-19 test before leaving, though some destinations may require it.
—Vaccinated people should still get a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the U.S., and be tested three to five days after returning. They do not need to quarantine. The agency noted the potential introduction of virus variants and differences in vaccine coverage around the world for the cautious guidance on overseas travel.
As of March 31, South Carolina has received 2,786,150 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and has administered 2,084,817.
A total of 36,450 Aiken County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
South Carolina health authorities confirmed nine COVID-19 cases in Aiken County on Friday.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed a total of 683 cases and seven deaths across the state Friday. None of the deaths were in Aiken County.
The data reported Friday is for the date of March 31.
Friday's report brings the total confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Aiken County to 12,494, with 174 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths.
Aiken County also has reported a total of 4,040 probable COVID-19 cases and 41 probable coronavirus-related deaths.
Neighboring Barnwell County confirmed two virus cases Friday and Edgefield County confirmed six cases.
Across the entire state, there are 470 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. There are currently four COVID-19 beds occupied in Aiken County.
The total number of individual test results reported to DHEC statewide Friday was 25,392, and the percent positive was 3.9%.
The total number of cases statewide is now 466,318, with 87,713 probable cases, 8,092 confirmed deaths and 1,087 probable deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.