DOH issues revised travel advisory after urging all int'l travelers to self-isolate 14 days after returning to US

Posted at 2:55 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 18:48:14-04

State health officials have issued a new advisory for those looking to travel overseas in wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

In addition to urging U.S. residents to not travel to China, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) sent out a release telling those returning to the Sunshine State from China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea to check themselves for fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms for 14 days.


As of Monday afternoon, China and Iran are under a level 4 travel advisory while Italy and South Korea are under a level 3 travel advisory. Japan is currently under a level 2 travel advisory, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Earlier in the day, DOH issued an advisory saying "all individuals who have traveled internationally to self-isolate for 14 days following their date of return to the United States." The original advisory generated a lot of confusion from the public before DOH later published a corrected version of the advisory, saying it recommends international travelers experiencing fever, cough or other respiratory issues to self-monitor themselves.

Specifically, the agency advised people returning from areas with a level 3 travel advisory to have a mandatory 14 day isolation and for those returning from a level 2 travel advisory and cruises to monitor health and limit interactions with others for 14 days upon return, following CDC guidelines.


DOH's announcement comes almost two days after Vice President Mike Pence told the public it is safe for healthy Americans to travel.

“The cruise line industry has a strong public health record,” said Vice President Pence said in a press conference Saturday.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Vice President Pence in Florida: Healthy Americans can and should continue to travel

Despite recent news of cruise ships being quarantined due to the coronavirus outbreak, Vice President Pence stated the healthy American people can and should continue with travel plans, but advised avoiding nonessential travel to Italy, Iran, South Korea and China.

“Our commitment here today and going forward is to work closely with government and to go above and beyond anything we are currently doing to screen even more stringently to prevent those who should not be allowed to board, to monitor test and care for those who are on board, and to transition and help pay for any sick guests or crew to move to locations staffed and equipped to handle COVID-19 cases," said Adam Goldstein, the chairman of Cruise Lines International Association, said Saturday.

On Sunday, Senator Rick Scott addressed coronavirus concerns at Port Tampa Bay.

"What they’re saying is if you have a chronic issue, and your immune system is compromised, you ought to stop and think about, should you be going on a cruise ship? Should you be flying? Where should you be?” he said.

On Monday, Sen. Scott urged transparency and for people to follow guidance from federal officials. His office released this statement:

"Senator Rick Scott has been urging federal, state and local health officials to be as transparent as possible so Americans have all the information they need to make the best decisions to protect themselves and their families. Senator Scott is asking Florida families to follow guidance from federal officials, and will continue to work with the federal government, our ports and cruise line industry to make sure they are fully prepared to keep Americans safe and healthy."

In response to the CDC's advice, CLIA issued this statement:

"We are staying focused on development of an aggressive, responsive plan as agreed to during the meeting with Vice President Pence that goes beyond the already significantly enhanced protocols in place, which we believe are a model for others. "

A CLIA spokesperson said measures will now include temperature screenings taking effect as soon as members are capable, for everyone boarding at initial embarkment. Additional measures can be found here.

"For us we feel like the decision to travel is an individual one a personal one that must be made," said AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins.

Evolving information may lead to questions for travelers.

"There’s tons of questions out there because there’s not a one size fits all for every single trip," said Jenkins.

Jenkins said while some are trying to cancel or reschedule trips, other travelers are trying to take advantage of deals.

"The cruise industry is trying to mitigate this as best they can and they are trying to offer low prices and other incentives as best they can," he said.

Some cruise lines are offering revised cancellation or rescheduling policies.

Carnival issued this statement on the travel advisory:

"The health and safety of our guests is of the highest priority and cruising remains one of the most attractive vacation options available. Our guests should make individual decisions knowing that we continue to implement higher and more rigorous protocols to protect their health and safety. While advisories are in place, we are open for business and look forward to welcoming guests who choose to take a cruise vacation with us."

No matter the type of trip, some experts recommended steps to take before booking.

"You have to be a responsible traveler okay. And I give this scenario, you buy a house you have a mortgage on it you don’t have insurance the house burns down, do you expect your mortgage company to pay for your house? It’s the same thing with travel. You are offered travel insurance," said Tammy Levent, the CEO of Elite Travel.

Levent said you can purchase travel insurance and options that have medical coverage.

"Traveling into August, September, October, later part of the year do your Christmas booking now so it will be cheaper and don’t forget the people that are supposed to travel now are moving over to that same time period," she said.