White House weighs domestic travel restrictions as variant cases spike in Florida


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Biden administration is reportedly considering whether to impose restrictions on domestic travel in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and target new variants of the disease that are spreading quickly in states like Florida.

News strains of the disease, including the highly contagious “U.K. variant,” known as B.1.1.7, have cropped up in several states, including Florida, and there is concern they could be resistant to vaccines. Up to a third of all US B.1.1.7 cases are from Florida, and the strain now accounts for up to 15% of new virus cases in the state, according to the Miami Herald

The newspaper reported Wednesday that the White House is weighing new travel restrictions that could contain new variants of the disease in states like Florida and California, where cases are high.

The restrictions would not target a specific state, but would instead focus on how to curb the variant’s spread.

“There are active conversations about what could help mitigate spread here, but we have to follow the data and what’s going to work. We did this with South Africa, we did this with Brazil, because we got clear guidance,” one White House official said.

“But we’re having conversations about anything that would help mitigate spread,” they added.

The officials said no policy announcements are imminent, and that the Biden administration would consult states and local governments before imposing any travel restrictions or health measures.

“No decisions have been made, but we certainly are having conversations across government,” the White House official said.

“This is a war and we’re at battle with the virus. War is messy and unpredictable, and all options are on the table,” the official said.

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