This week, the U.S. State Department downgraded its travel warning for Mexico. The news comes less than two weeks before the current border closure agreement between the U.S. and its southern neighbor is set to expire.
The entire country is no longer under a Level 4 “Do not travel” warning. Instead, the State Department is listing Mexico’s new status as Level 3 “Reconsider travel,” along with specified advisories for individual regions. There are still “Do not travel” warnings for five states because of crime and kidnapping.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has kept Mexico at Level 3, its most severe threat level.
The current U.S.-Mexico border closure agreement is due to expire Sept. 21; extensions have typically been announced the week before the expiration date.
There is a major loophole in both the border closure agreements with Mexico and Canada: they apply only to land and water borders. Travelers can still fly over the border; Americans are welcome in Cancun, Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas, even without a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine.
World Health Organization data shows Mexico’s rate of new COVID-19 cases stair-stepping up and down over the past six weeks. The majority of days in August saw decrease in new cases, only to have those improvements offset by days with four-digit increases.
It peaked Aug. 3 when 9,500 confirmed cases were reported, an increase of nearly 1,100 over the previous day, or a 13% jump.
As of Thursday, the latest day for which there is full data, there were 5,351 confirmed cases, representing a 53% spike over the previous day.
The USA’s caseload over the same period follows a similar pattern, with days of decreasing numbers followed by a spike. However, Thursday, the day with the lowest number of new cases in the the U.S, was still more than 23,000 – more than six times that of Mexico’s 3,486 on the same day.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: State Department drops ‘Do not travel’ warning for Mexico