Propeller airplane ascending
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Global Level 4 Health Advisory Issued by Department of State of the United States

A Global Level 4 Health Advisory to reconsider travel was officially issued by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States earlier today, Thursday, March 19, 2020 in response to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus — which is also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV — pandemic.

Global Level 4 Health Advisory Issued by Department of State of the United States

At the time this article was written, at least 8,648 people have died of the minimum of 207,855 confirmed cases in 166 countries and territories worldwide, according to this situation dashboard from the World Health Organization pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

The following text is repeated verbatim from the official advisory.

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.

On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members from any diplomatic or consular post in the world who have determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19 or who have requested departure based on a commensurate justification. These departures may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens.

For the latest information regarding COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.

You are encouraged to visit to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security. Please also visit the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to see information on entry restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by local governments.

Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. The Department uses these Alerts to convey information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc. In an emergency, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or call the following numbers: 1(888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 from other countries or jurisdictions.

If you decide to travel abroad or are already outside the United States:


Only four days ago on Sunday, March 15, 2020, the Department of State of the United States issued a Level 3 travel advisory advising people to restrict travel — but that advisory was upgraded to the highest level earlier today, Thursday, March 19, 2020.

A Level 4 advisory means to restrict travel — which is the highest level that warns Do Not Travel. The Department of State of the United States introduced an improved travel advisory system of sharing information on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 for travelers who are citizens of the United States — and this system is designed to provide clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide.

Even if you were to travel, numerous countries have either strengthened restrictions for entry to foreigners and visitors — or the borders are simply closed off altogether — which has led to airlines substantially diminishing their route networks by reducing or eliminating flight schedules.

This article is the latest in a series pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in an effort to get the facts out with information derived from reliable sources.

Other articles at The Gate which pertain to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus include:

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Brian,
    Great Blog!
    Glad you were able to get all the name variations in the title. ” 2019 Novel Coronavirus — which is also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV” 😉
    That being said, what’s the recommendation for driving cross country. I need to get to CA from MO. hotels closing down? Restaurants?

    1. As far as restaurants, some — such as LongHorn Steakhouse — still have their dining rooms open. Most others have take-out services available — if the restaurant is not closed down completely — and many now offer free delivery; although you will likely have to give a gratuity to the person who delivers your food.

      In other words, either be creative and have a picnic — or be ready to eat in your hotel room.

      Speaking of lodging, I cannot give a firm answer because the situation is so volatile, as lodging companies announce more closures of hotel and resort properties worldwide every day. For example, I understand that Hilton is readying to close hotel properties within cities in the United States.

      My advice would be to call the hotel properties at where you plan on staying to confirm whether they will be open and a room will be available for you when you arrive.

      I drove from Atlanta to Las Vegas in the autumn of 2017; and I had a blast. I assume you are taking Interstate 70 west from either Saint Louis or Kansas City to Interstate 15 south towards southern California. Good news is that you should not encounter traffic — even in the major cities during rush hour — as long as the fear of this pandemic prevails; and because of that, you should be able to complete the trip with as little as one overnight stop if you are willing to drive 14 hours each day.

      Also, prices for a gallon of gasoline have been tanking — pun intended. Stop in Hays, Kansas just off of Interstate 70 for gasoline prices as low as $1.64 per gallon, as they jump as much as 70 cents per gallon once you cross the border into Colorado. Use Gas Buddy to find the lowest prices.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions, Patrick — and thank you.

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