Starting on December 31, inbound travelers from eight African countries may enter the United States. The fourth wave of COVID-19, caused by the omicron variant, has calmed down in South Africa and in the seven surrounding countries affected by the travel ban enacted on November 29.
The November 29 travel ban temporarily halted travelers departing from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique Lesotho and Eswatini from entering the United States. Health officials enacted the ban out of an abundance of caution because of the omicron variant.
Despite the ban, the omicron variant still made its way into the US, and health officials believe it has triggered a new wave of infections.
Research labs have identified the omicron variant in all 50 states. Daily COVID-19 new infections have reached highs not seen since last winter.
New York reported more than 38,000 cases on Thursday, December 24. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called in the National Guard to assist with hospital staffing in the northeastern part of the state.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institutes of Health, predicts that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic thus far will arrive in the coming weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts a 25% increase in case counts by mid-January.