Reuters reported that over 13,000 U.S. citizens have expressed interest to the State Department in returning to America during the pandemic. This week, a group of 1,600 American citizens will return from overseas with the assistance of the State Department.
The agency has been heavily involved in helping U.S. citizens return to America from school, vacation, employment, and were vital in the management of the passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was exiled at a port in Japan while every passenger was quarantined and tested.
As governments have wrestled with different strategies to manage the coronavirus outbreak, the State Department has been working with thousands of American citizens who have expressed an interest of returning to America in case they close the borders to all international travel.
Reuters broke down the numbers of those citizens who have chosen to return to America during the pandemic.
Some 13,500 U.S. citizens abroad are seeking State Department help to return home because of the coronavirus, a U.S. official said on Monday, urging Americans who are uncomfortable remaining overseas to “get out now” while commercial flights are still available.
The State Department this week will bring back about 1,600 Americans abroad on about 16 flights, the senior U.S. official told reporters, saying about 5,700 people have already come back, many through flights arranged by the agency.
The vast majority of an estimated 10 million U.S. citizens abroad live there and do not wish to return, the official said, but stressed Americans should weigh whether they are comfortable remaining overseas indefinitely.
“If you are somewhere where you think ‘no, this is not where I would want to be over the long haul,’ take advantage of existing commercial opportunities and get out now,” he said.
According to Fox News, last week the State Department announced a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” request to all American citizens living abroad. They also encouraged the people that were in countries that still allowed to travel to consider taking advantage of the opportunity to return to America, because the chance to re-enter may close if the outbreak does not subside.
The State Department’s announcement was reported on further by Fox News.
“The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19,” the State Department said in a statement. “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.”
The State Department also warned that U.S. citizens living 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,” the State Department said. “Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips.”
The department added: “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.”
The State Department has flown a large number of supportive staff home from their locations in embassies around the globe. They also approved the return of anyone who claimed to be at high risk of recovering poorly if they contracted the the virus.
The agency warned American citizens that have chosen to stay abroad that a lack of staff will increase the chances of facing an issue that the State Department is unable to alleviate during the pandemic.