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A White filmmaker held up a Black Lives Matter sign in Harrison, Arkansas, and here’s what happened

By Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN

A White filmmaker traveled to a town just outside the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan to document reactions to him holding a Black Lives Matter sign.

With a GoPro strapped to his chest under his shirt out of view to his subjects and a lapel mic on his body Rob Bliss 31 stood on the side of the road in Harrison Arkansas with his handmade poster. Harrison is 135 miles north of the capital Little Rock.

“They say light is always the best disinfectant and by showing the reality of many of these places it helps expose people who are in these big cities that don’t really know what is still going on in the United States today” he told CNN.

Bliss a content creator from Los Angeles is known for producing viral video campaigns on social issues. In 2014 he worked on a project showcasing what 10 hours of street harassment in New York City looked like for women which was criticized at the time for only featuring minorities and little to no White individuals. In 2013 Bliss created a fundraising video featuring a homeless veteran receiving a makeover.

In his latest project Bliss said he strung together an edited video compilation of what he believes is a raw look and reminder of just how prevalent racism remains in pockets of the country.

“There is a fair amount of preaching to the choir in liberal spaces” Bliss said. That’s why he decided to travel to Harrison — a town “known for its struggle with race and White pride billboards” he said. That coupled with the fact that it is just outside of the home to the national headquarters of the KKK.

“I know that I have privileges and abilities as a White man to go into a nearly all White town and hold this sign without as much fear as a person of color would have” he said. “I think it’s important where I have these privileges I have a responsibility to use them to help lift up other people as well.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the KKK Harrison is home to the national chapter of the group. Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Largent told CNN the organization is actually headquartered in Zinc Arkansas 15 miles east of Harrison.

Three days of hearing from residents

The two minute video was posted on Monday and begins with Bliss holding his sign in front of a billboard on the side of a busy highway in Harrison. It says “For the Family” with a picture of what appears to be a family and a cross next to it with the websites and across the top and bottom of the board.

“I think most people in passing didn’t realize that they were being recorded” Bliss said. “But this is all happening in a wide open public space with no expectations of privacy as you can see in the video.”

Throughout the video compilation of edited clips by Bliss he captures residents driving past him and at some points walking by him to express their animosity toward his presence. Bliss filmed over the course of three days the first week of July.

In the clips seen on his video Bliss said he stood on the side of a main highway for parts of the video.

“Have a little pride in your race brother” a man in a gray minivan says in the video while driving by Bliss. “White pride worldwide.”

In the video another man in a tan car drives by Bliss shows him his middle finger and says nothing at first. He then returns a second time to say “About ten minutes I’m gonna be back you better be f****** gone.” Bliss said that man didn’t return.

One person after another can be seen in the video berating Bliss for the message on his sign some questioning his beliefs by asking if he’s a Marxist Communist or domestic terrorist.

“Hey all lives matter not just Black” another man from a black SUV yells to Bliss. “You’re a Caucasian.”

But the video wasn’t entirely negative. At the end of the video Bliss featured one clip of a woman handing him a handwritten note. Bliss said he blurred her face in the video for her protection.

“Ignore the haters you’re being peaceful” the note read. “What you’re doing is good. Just a friendly reminder. Don’t give up hope.”

While Bliss was filming with his sign he estimates about a dozen people took the time to offer him something to drink while he was standing in the heat. Clips of those interactions were not shown in his video.

“Much like how I didn’t include every negative thing said to me because the video was a summary I didn’t include the people who gave me Gatorade because I wanted to save that positive sentiment for the girl who gave me the note” he said. “I think she symbolized that sentiment the best.”

City leaders say the video doesn’t reflect their community

Bliss’ video caught the attention of Harrison city leaders. Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway Harrison Mayor Jerry Jackson and Chamber of Commerce President Largent issued a joint online statement Tuesday to denounce the behavior of the locals featured in the video.

“The video does not represent Boone County nor the City of Harrison” the statement said. “While we cannot excuse the reprehensible behavior and words of individuals recorded in the video we know for certain that they do not reflect the views of the majority of the good people of our communities.”

On Friday Largent told CNN he continues to work with community elected and business leaders along with a task force on race relations a group that was formed in 2003 by Bob Reynolds who was mayor at the time. The task force is made up of local clergy and volunteers according to the City of Harrison’s website.

“It is obvious there is still work to be done in our area and across the nation” the city leaders’ statement said. “We must constantly strive to do better and we pledge our continued efforts in that regard.”

The task force was created at a time when racial tensions in the area were high group member Kevin Cheri told CNN. He joined their efforts in 2013.

Cheri a Black man said the purpose of the group is to “address issues relative to this perception of Harrison as this racist community.”

Since its inception Cheri said the group has made significant strides to change the perception of Harrison by “facilitating resolutions to community issues through programs and conversations” according to Cheri.

He called Bliss’ video a “mixed blessing.”

“What it has done for us is it’s helped the few people who are still in denial see that there are a few people here with that mentality” Cheri said. “But not to the degree in the way that it implies by the way that (Bliss) presented it.”

Correction: Prior versions of this story misspelled Kevin Cheri’s last name.


URGENT – Herman Cain dies from coronavirus

(CNN) — Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has died from coronavirus, according to an obituary sent from his verified Twitter account and Newsmax, where he was launching a television show. Cain, 74, was hospitalized earlier this month, and his Twitter account said earlier this week he was being treated with oxygen in his lungs. It is unknown where Cain contracted the virus. As a co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, Cain was one of the surrogates at President Donald Trump’s June 20 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma — which saw at least eight Trump advance team staffers in attendance test positive for coronavirus. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told CNN at the time that Cain did not meet with Trump at the Tulsa rally. Cain announced his Republican candidacy for president in 2011. He briefly gained traction in the race for his 9-9-9 tax reform plan, which would have replaced almost all current taxes with a 9% income tax, a 9% corporate tax and a 9% national sales tax. After about seven months, he dropped his bid for the GOP nomination amid sexual harassment allegations, which he denied. This story is breaking and will be updated.

CNN-Bulletin CNN-Regional

URGENT – Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien tests positive for Covid-19

(CNN) — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, has tested positive for Covid-19, according to an official familiar with what happened. O’Brien’s diagnosis marks the highest-ranking Trump administration official known to have tested positive. It’s unclear when O’Brien last met with Trump. Their last public appearance together was over two weeks ago during a visit to US Southern Command in Miami on July 10. O’Brien, one of Trump’s top aides, recently returned from Europe, where he and his top deputy met with officials from the UK, France, Germany and Italy. A senior administration official told CNN that O’Brien has been working from home since last week.


Face mask wearers don’t get lax about washing hands, study suggests

By Katie Hunt, CNN

People who wear face masks to protect against disease typically don’t neglect other steps that safeguard their health such as washing hands, according to a new study.

Some experts had worried that face coverings could create a false sense of security for wearers but a review of existing — albeit limited — evidence by researchers at the University of Cambridge and King’s College London in the UK found that this doesn’t appear to be the case.

“Many public health bodies are coming to the conclusion that wearing a face covering might help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and the limited evidence available suggests their use doesn’t have a negative effect on hand hygiene,” said co-author James Rubin, a reader in the psychology of emerging health risks at the King’s College department of psychological medicine, in a press statement.

Wearing face coverings to protect against Covid-19, particularly in shared indoor areas like public transportation, is now required or recommended in more than 160 countries, according to the study, which was published in BMJ Analysis.

As part of their study, the authors looked at 22 systematic reviews that examined the impact of mask wearing on respiratory viruses, including flu but not Covid-19.

They found six randomized controlled trials that looked at hand hygiene, and their results suggested that wearing masks does not reduce the frequency of hand washing or hand sanitizing. In fact, the paper said that in two studies self-reported rates of hand washing were higher in the groups allocated masks.

“Within the mask-wearing context, the authors point out that one precautionary behavior (like mask-wearing or hand-washing) may actually remind the wearer about the need to perform the other related behaviors — thus reinforcing the whole suite of behaviors that combine to reduce transmission,” said Dr. Julian Tang, honorary associate professor in respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester, who wasn’t involved in the research.

Unfounded concern

The idea that that people have a level of risk they are comfortable with and they adjust their behavior to maintain that risk level — what scientists call risk compensation — may seem intuitive at an individual level. For example, people run for longer to offset an indulgent meal and a cyclist may wear a helmet to cycle faster.

However, there’s little hard evidence for this type of risk compensation. Studies have found little to no support for the hypothesis that bicycle helmet use is associated with engaging in risky behavior, according to this latest research.

Similarly, in another example cited by the paper, HPV vaccination did not lead to an increase in unprotected sex, as some had speculated. In fact the opposite effect was found — those who were vaccinated were less likely to engage in unprotected sexual behavior as measured by rates of sexually transmitted infection.

“Evidence is growing that wearing face covering reduces the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and the limited evidence available does not support concerns that their use adversely affects hand hygiene,” the study said.

“This is in keeping with the larger body of evidence on interventions for which risk compensation has been shown to be an unfounded concern.”

The authors added that more research was needed to understand how people behave when wearing face coverings in different indoor spaces to see whether mask use affects social distancing.

“The concept of risk compensation, rather than risk compensation itself, seems the greater threat to public health through delaying potentially effective interventions that can help prevent the spread of disease,” said Professor Dame Theresa Marteau at the University of Cambridge’s Behavior and Health Research Unit, who led the research.


Master body-weight movements: How to reboot your workout routine

By Dana Santas, CNN

In Part I of this seven-part fitness series we started our journey by learning how to strengthen our mind-body connection and practice breathing to create good posture. We also eased into an exercise habit with a daily walk.

Now we’ll get you moving in the right directions — literally. This set of exercises focuses on functional body-weight movements in all planes of motion.

Just think about the ways you use your body to move effectively in daily life.

You push your arms forward to reach for things. You pull doors open squat down to tie your shoes and bend from your waist to pet a dog. You rotate to grab and latch your seat belt and stabilize through your core to sit and stand upright.

And we do all of this while moving around forward backward and side to side.

In strength and conditioning most coaches and trainers identify functional movement exercises in six categories: squatting hinging pushing pulling rotating and core stabilization. See how they match up with daily-life function?

And just like the multidirectional movement of everyday life we also want to perform exercises in all three planes of motion: sagittal (forward/backward) frontal (side to side) and transverse (rotating).

Mastering the exercises below — taking your body through all functional movements and planes of motion — will increase strength mobility and durability laying the groundwork for you to safely and effectively progress to weight training which we’ll embrace in the next installment in this series.

Important note: Before beginning any new exercise program consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you experience pain.

Proper form is key

Run through the following exercises three to five times per week in the order below for two to four rounds of eight to 10 repetitions each.

And keep this in mind: Practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent. If you repeat poor form over and over that’s the movement pattern you’ll memorize.

So don’t rush mindlessly through any of these exercises! Remember the importance of the mind-body connection we discussed in Part I.

Body-weight squat

This squatting exercise in the sagittal plane increases total-body strength with a particular emphasis on the legs and core.

Start standing with your feet a little wider than hip distance and arms at your sides. Inhale brace your abdominals and begin lowering into a squat position. Raise your arms out in front at shoulder distance for counterbalance.

Push your knees out slightly as you squat as low as possible without pain or your back rounding. Keep your chest up and back neutral. Exhale as you push through your heels to come back into your starting position.

Single-leg balancing hip hinge

As a single-leg movement in the sagittal plane this exercise promotes balance proper hip function and strength in the back of your legs glutes and back.

From standing lift one foot slightly shifting your weight over the other foot. Start slow establishing balance before adding movement. Move into the exercise by extending one leg behind you as you hinge forward with a flat back reaching both arms out in front as shown.

Pause here for a second trying to lengthen your body out in a long horizontal line perpendicular to your standing leg. Then with control return to standing.

Repeat for the desired number of reps then move to the other side.

READ MORE: 5 household items you can use to work out your whole body

Y raise

This pulling move in the sagittal plane increases mobility and strength throughout your upper back and shoulder complex.

From standing hinge your hips back and bend your knees slightly in a semi-squat position. This is often referred to as “athletic stance.” Place the backs of your hands against the insides of your knees.

Inhale as you raise your straight arms out and up in front of you in a “Y” position. Exhale to return your hands to the insides of your knees.

Maintain athletic position with a flat back and weight in your heels as you move your arms through each repetition.


Push-ups as their name implies are a pushing movement. They’re done in the sagittal plane and strengthen arms shoulders back and core.

From a plank position with your wrists under the shoulders lower your entire body down by bending your arms until your elbows shoulders and hips are level. Keep the elbows in toward your sides. Avoid arching your back.

Maintain lumbo-pelvic control by keeping your core engaged. Exhale as you push up moving your entire body in one motion.

Push-ups can be difficult. If you find yourself struggling modify by either lowering to your knees or elevating your upper body by placing your hands on a step or bench.

READ MORE: Step up your balance with this stair workout

Kneeling T-spine rotation

This rotational exercise takes place in the transverse plane and focuses on strength and mobility through the side body and back.

Start on your hands and knees. Sit back on your heels sliding your hands back to so they are directly in front of your knees. Replace your left hand position with your right hand.

Then inhale as you lift your left arm to rotate upward to the left. Keep your hips shifted back with your low back stable. Do the prescribed number of reps then repeat on the other side.

Side forearm plank

It’s important to do exercises in the frontal plane like this side plank that targets your core muscles especially your obliques while building shoulder and back strength.

Begin lying on your side on a mat with your bottom forearm down and shoulder stacked over your elbow. Keep your legs straight with your feet stacked.

Exhale as you engage your abdominals lifting into a side plank position with your top arm extended upward. Pause at the top keeping your hips lifted and core stabilized.

If you need to modify to maintain form keep your lower knee on the mat with your leg bent kickstand-style behind you.

Remember it’s important to be thoughtful as you learn the proper form of each exercise.

Concentrate on executing good form with every repetition to create a mastery of movement so that you’ll be well set up to progress to a weight-lifting program the next article in our series. Trust me you don’t want to be adding weight to faulty form.

Dana Santas, known as the “Mobility Maker,” is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, and is the author of the book “Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief.”


A side-by-side comparison of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X

By Shannon Liao, CNN Business

This holiday season will see a showdown between new consoles from two of the biggest names in gaming: Sony and Microsoft.

Both companies have now released their new consoles, Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. The Xbox Series X arrived on November 10 and costs $499. A cheaper version, the Xbox Series S, is available for $299. The PlayStation 5 came out November 12 and is priced at $499, with a “digital edition” that nixes the disc drive costing $399.

CNN Business took a look at how these two hotly anticipated releases compare, from the technical specifications of the consoles to their designs and business strategies. For more on what it’s like to play on these consoles, we’ve reviewed the Series X here and the PS5 here. We also spoke to Xbox back in July about the next generation of consoles.

Tech specs

When it comes to the processor, the Xbox Series X is slightly more powerful than the PlayStation 5, though the difference doesn’t have much impact on the gaming experience.

The new Xbox’s processor, or CPU, can go up to marginally faster clock speeds at 3.8 Gigahertz compared to the PS5’s 3.5 Gigahertz.

When it comes to the graphics, Microsoft appears to have the slight advantage — at first.

Graphics processing units, commonly known as GPUs, render game graphics. In general, the more processing power a console’s GPU has, the better a game will look. Xbox has 1.7 more teraflops, units for measuring computing speed, on its GPU than PlayStation does.

But before we write off Sony, it should be noted that the PlayStation has some differences in its GPU architecture that might translate into better graphic performance. How that will impact the visual experience won’t be clear until we see how the graphics look on more games.

The Xbox Series X wins out on internal storage. Xbox has one terabyte of internal storage compared to PlayStation’s 825 GB. Any gamer will tell you that running out of storage on a console can be a hassle. But both console makers now have cloud gaming solutions — PlayStation Now and Project xCloud — and as more players rely on the cloud, storage will become less important.

Sony does have one advantage. The PS5 can push through data at 5.5 GB per second, compared to the Xbox Series X, which works at 2.4GB per second. That could mean marginally faster load times, and less time spent on a loading screen.

Both consoles are evenly matched elsewhere. They each have 16 GB of memory and support 4K resolution gaming at launch. And when it comes to the latest flashy technology, both Sony and Microsoft have worked to incorporate ray-tracing, a technology that makes light and shadow look better in-game, and offer 3D audio for more immersive sound.

While both consoles will eventually offer an 8K resolution gaming setting, most people don’t own an 8K compatible television and most developers don’t currently optimize games for 8K resolution. Sony and Microsoft built these consoles with 8K support to prepare for the future.

But the 8K TVs currently available are pricey, with a 55-inch Samsung model going for $2,499. Sony and Samsung have 98-inch 8Ks for $60,000.

“When we designed the Xbox Series X… we designed it with the next seven to 10 years in mind,” Jason Ronald, the director of program management for the Xbox Series X, told CNN Business. “So we’ve absolutely designed the system to be able to do 8K.”

Business strategy

In the previous generation of consoles, Sony’s PlayStation 4 has vastly outsold the Xbox One. Both were introduced in 2013, and PS4 consoles have sold 109 million units as of early 2020. Although sales of the Xbox One aren’t disclosed, the company is estimated to have sold roughly 49 million units, according to Ampere Analysis. Nintendo releases consoles on its own schedule, but despite a shorter window, its Switch console surpassed Xbox One in lifetime sales, selling 53 million units by early 2020 even though it was released four years later.

A lot of this boils down to content. Sony and Nintendo have compelling games that only can be played on their consoles, locking fans of these franchises into their ecosystems. Some Nintendo franchises, such as “Super Mario” and “Pokemon,” rarely come to other platforms and if they do, it’s typically mobile and not console versions of the games. Sony revs up fans every generation with a new set of PlayStation exclusives.

Many Xbox titles, however, are released simultaneously for Xbox and PlayStation, meaning Sony fans don’t need to migrate outside their preferred gaming system to play them. And Xbox exclusives have never ranked among the top ten best-selling games on the platform in lifetime sales, according to the NPD Group.

Ampere Analysis games research director Piers Harding-Rolls predicts Sony will out perform Microsoft again, selling 67 million consoles by the end of 2024, compared to an estimated 44 million for the Series X. His estimates are based on previous sales data and Sony and Microsoft marketing strategies.

Sony is continuing to rely on big, exclusive games.

“Sony is focused on pushing exclusives for PS5 to sell hardware and is remaining more traditional in its approach,” Harding-Rolls told CNN Business, “It is looking to expand its audience through PlayStation Now, but it is far less aggressive in its approach compared to Microsoft with Xbox Game Pass.”

Microsoft is focused on selling games as a service, in hopes that gamers will purchase a monthly subscription to its Xbox Game Pass, which offers access to hundreds of games and starts at $9.99 a month. Microsoft said that all the new games it presented in July will be available through the Game Pass.

It’s also promising that users won’t need to upgrade to a next-generation console to as many new games will be compatible with the previous generation. And if players want to go mobile, Project xCloud supports that.

Xbox is “not trying to force the player to upgrade to an individual device or to make things exclusive to this device or that device,” Ronald, the Xbox Series X director, said. “I think it’s what really differentiates us from the competition.”

Ronald estimates that Xbox pivoted to focus more closely on the gamer than on the device around the time Phil Spencer became head of the company in 2014, a year after the Xbox One was released.

It’s a vastly different approach than Sony’s, which will market a new round of games, including the forthcoming “Spider-Man: Miles Morales,” as exclusive to the PS5.

Sony declined to comment for this article.

Xbox has a strong value proposition in offering hundreds of games for a low rate per month with its Game Pass subscription — if it can convey that value to its audience.

“Microsoft in general struggles with marketing entertainment products,” said David Cole, an analyst at research firm DFC Intelligence. “They are much more comfortable marketing tech specs to an IT crowd that does really care about those things. Unfortunately, that is a small fraction of console buyers.”

Some consumers may simply wait to see if the new consoles are worth the upgrade. And the impact of the pandemic on many players’ incomes could influence the decision.

“There will be a lot of gamers happy to get by on their current consoles until they’re forced to upgrade to play the newest release of a beloved series,” said Laine Nooney, assistant professor and historian of video games at New York University.


MIT researchers created a reusable face mask that works like an N95 respirator

By Scottie Andrew, CNN

Nurses and doctors have gone to creative extremes to reuse the same masks gloves and scrubs they need to treat contagious coronavirus patients. But if a prototype mask created by researchers proves widely effective it may be a safer alternative for health care workers.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have developed the iMASC a new silicone mask that can be safely reused without fear of contamination. Researchers still need to analyze how effectively it catches viral particles but it’s a promising step toward addressing the critical health hcare supply shortages.

The iMASC offers a level of protection comparable to N95 respirator masks its creators say. That’s partially because it uses an N95 filter without all the additional material of N95 masks that catches particles.

The masks are based on the shape of a typical N95 mask too but they’re made with a silicone rubber that can be sterilized after each use. The dual filters that cover the mouth can be replaced after each use too the researchers said.

In a study about the iMASC published in the British Medical Journal Open researchers said shortages of personal protective equipment or PPE in hospitals created a “critical need” for reusable safety gear.

So they tried their hand at a N95-style mask. They 3D printed the material and tested its use among nurses and physicians who scored the mask for breathability fit and ease of filter replacement.

Researchers asked the health care workers all from Brigham and Women’s Hospital how the mask stacked up to the tried-and-true N95 mask and most of them said they either had no preference or preferred the new mask the researchers said in a release.

PPE shortages force doctors to reuse contaminated equipment

N95 masks are considered the most effective face covering and can catch up to 95% of particles. But they’re not made to be sterilized and reused.

But health care workers have had to reuse them anyway due to shortages of the masks and other PPE like scrubs and gloves. Physicians have had to reuse potentially contaminated gear which could expose them or their patients to coronavirus. It’s the alternative to not using protection at all even if reusing PPE poses some risk.

It’s a risk researchers don’t want health care workers to take. Peter Tsai the man who invented the N95 mask’s filtering fabric has come out of retirement to test sterilization methods. A group of Duke University researchers developed their own method of decontamination in March using hydrogen peroxide.

The Duke team’s biocontamination method takes hours to complete requires equipment many hospitals don’t have and can only be used up to 20 times for the same mask. The MIT researchers said they knew they needed to create a more versatile process — or product.

“One of the key things we recognized early on was that in order to help meet the demand we needed to really restrict ourselves to methods that could scale” said Dr. Giovanni Traverso an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The researchers used several different sterilization methods on iMASC including running them through an autoclave (steam sterilizer) putting them in an oven and soaking them in both bleach and isopropyl alcohol. The silicone material was undamaged after each test.

The MIT team is working on a new version of the mask which they’ll test to see if it can efficiently filter viral particles. In the meantime hospital workers — and people who work at essential businesses and schools that plan to reopen — are urging local state and federal leaders to provide more PPE to protect their health.


How to reboot your workout routine: Let’s set the foundation

By Dana Santas, CNN

After time off from exercising, it’s understandable if you’re having a hard time getting motivated. You may even feel a bit bad, but I’m here to say it’s important to go easy on yourself.

Even if you start ever so slowly, know that returning to a workout routine means you’ll soon get those feel-good serotonin and dopamine boosts from exercising.

And let’s face it, with so much time cooped up at home due to coronavirus lockdown measures, it’s been all too easy for many of us to gain a couple of pounds or more. But if you join me, we can all be in this together.

Now let’s think about the path to get back on track. While it might seem tempting to try to whip yourself back into shape by jumping into heavy weight training or intense cardio out of the gate, this cold-turkey approach will overstress your system — and you could easily hurt yourself by training too hard, too soon.

That’s why I’m sharing a seven-part series of weekly articles to safely guide you back into an effective workout regimen that will set you up for long-term success. This first one sets the foundation by guiding you into a positive mindset and getting you moving in the right direction.

There will be plenty of time later in the series for intensive workouts, but for now, we’re going to ease our way back.

So, whether you’re reestablishing an exercise routine — or even starting for the first time — read on for an easy three-step process to get you on a consistent path.

READ PART II: Master body-weight movements: How to reboot your workout routine

Reconnect your mind and body

When getting back into an exercise regimen, it’s natural to focus on how much better we want to make ourselves look, but let’s stop for a moment and think about how physical activity will improve the way we feel. Any negativity we might be feeling about our bodies being “out of shape” actually stems more from our minds and bodies being out of sync.

Remember, physical activity produces those feel-good chemicals in our brains that reinforce our positive mind-body connection. Developing this mind-body connection gets you in a positive mindset and will help you establish a sense of control and respect for your body, paving a path for your exercise efforts that’s sustainable — which, in turn, will lead to achieving your goals.

READ PART III: Strength training with free weights: How to reboot your workout routine

Step one: Mind your muscle movement

When trying to restore and strengthen this connection after being sedentary, I recommend practicing this progressive muscle contraction/relaxation daily for a week and then several times per week thereafter. This is best done lying down, but you can do it from almost any position as it relies on muscle contractions with very little to no movement.

Begin by focusing your attention in your body, on your breathing. During this exercise, your breath will serve as the link between your mind and muscles.

Inhale as you close your eyes tightly and tighten your jaw by clenching your teeth. Exhale as you release the tension, letting your eyes remain gently closed. Inhale fully into your rib cage and hold your breath, creating tension in your chest, upper back and neck. Exhale to release.

Inhale and squeeze your hands into fists, trying to make contact and create tension in all the muscles of your arms. Exhale to release.

Inhale to contract your glutes and pelvic floor muscles while tightening your abdomen as well. Exhale to release.

Inhale to curl your toes and create tension in all the muscles of your legs. Exhale to release.

Take five additional, long, deep breaths, while your mind rests in awareness of your body’s state of total relaxation.

READ PART IV: Get moving faster with cardio: How to reboot your workout routine

Breathe into good posture

The safety and efficacy of any exercise program is predicated on executing proper form. If your posture is poor and movement is restricted, it’ll be difficult to perform almost any exercise safely. So, it’s in your best interest to optimize your breathing before beginning or restarting an exercise program.

What does breathing have to do with posture and movement? The short answer is: everything. The shallow, upper-chest-oriented breathing pattern many of us have fallen into reduces the function of our diaphragm, requiring upper-body muscles to compensate as accessory breathing muscles that lift the rib cage during inhalation.

This creates painful, movement-limiting, chronic upper-body tension and poor posture. For more on the biomechanics of proper diaphragmatic breathing, check out my article “Breathe better to move better: Train to breathe like a pro athlete.”

READ PART V: Biking your way to better health: How to reboot your workout routine

Step two: Move your ribs while breathing

Regularly practicing breathing better will decrease tension to restore mobility and establish good posture for proper exercise form. Here’s a basic way to practice every day:

Sit comfortably in a chair with your hands resting on your legs. Close your eyes. Begin lengthening and deepening your inhalations and exhalations. As you breathe, concentrate on the movement of your rib cage.

Inhale, filling the lowest lobes of your lungs so that your lower ribs externally rotate and expand out to the sides. When you exhale, completely empty your lungs, using core muscles, almost like an abdominal crunch, to move your lower ribs in, back, and down toward your waist.

Repeat this for five to 10 breaths, practicing several times per day.

If you’re having trouble getting your ribs to move, place your hands on your lower ribs while you breathe, so that you can guide them in and out under your fingers. You can also try the breathing bridge exercise featured in my recent article on exercises to offset too much sitting.

READ PART VI: Safely ramp up exercise intensity: How to reboot your workout routine

Walk your way to a healthy routine

When establishing an exercise routine, consistency is the key to long-term success. Ideally, exercising regularly needs to become a lifestyle habit akin to toothbrushing. Rather than diving head-first into an overwhelming workout that’s too time-consuming and strenuous to sustain, begin by forging an easy-to-accomplish daily walking habit.

Because walking is so accessible, people often discount its benefits, making it one of the most underrated fat-burning, mind-body exercises.

Step three: Establish a walking habit

Start by walking just five to 10 minutes daily over the first few days while you figure out the best time and place for your walks. Once you’ve determined the logistics, begin adding a few minutes more to each walk. Ideally, you want to get up to about 20 to 30 minutes per day.

On days you can walk longer, that’s great, but don’t put pressure on yourself to do more, which could sabotage your daily habit. Likewise, on days you can only walk a few minutes — still do it.

Of course, if you walk outside, the weather won’t always cooperate. On those days, a few sets of walking lunges inside or marching in place might be your only alternative (if you don’t have access to a treadmill). The important thing is that you do something active during the time you would’ve normally walked. Don’t break your habit!

Keep in mind that walking at a moderate-to-brisk pace can be very effective for fat burning.

This is especially true when in a fasted state (not having eaten in a few hours). When your stomach is empty and insulin levels are low, your body relies on fat as its primary energy source.

READ PART VII: Why recovery is the key to effective exercise: How to reboot your workout routine

In terms of mind-body benefits, when you take your walks disconnected from your devices, it gives your mind a much-needed tech break, enabling you to tune into the sensations in your body. Even better, walk outside to gain the health benefits of green space and vitamin D.

Here are some additional ways to increase the health benefits of your walks.

Once you’ve established a daily walking habit, it creates a platform for sustainably expanding your exercise program.

This is especially true when in a fasted state (not having eaten in a few hours). When your stomach is empty and insulin levels are low, your body relies on fat as its primary energy source.

In terms of mind-body benefits, when you take your walks disconnected from your devices, it gives your mind a much-needed tech break, enabling you to tune into the sensations in your body. Even better, walk outside to gain the health benefits of green space and vitamin D.

Here are some additional ways to increase the health benefits of your walks.

Once you’ve established a daily walking habit, it creates a platform for sustainably expanding your exercise program.

Create a follow-through plan

After spending a couple weeks following the three-step plan above, you should feel confident in your mental and physical capacity to expand your exercise regimen. But to ensure long-term success, it’s important to map out a logistical plan of where and when you’ll be training to avoid unexpected hiccups that can quickly snowball into excuses not to work out.

When? Not having enough time is probably the most common excuse for skipping exercise. Don’t let that be your excuse! If you can’t find a dedicated 30- to 45-minute time slot at least three times per week, trade out your daily walking time on those days.

Where? Will you be returning to your old gym? If so, are you comfortable with the safety precautions they have in place to fight coronavirus? Is there potential for gym capacity limitations to impact your ability to work out during the time frame you’ve allocated?

If you’re planning to work out at home, it’s important to create a dedicated home workout space, so you don’t run into issues like clutter or other family members needing the space.

Remember these three steps

Develop a strategy that helps you anticipate and deal with potential issues before they arise. And leverage the three-step process in this article to set your foundation:

1. Use the progressive muscle contraction/relaxation exercise to strengthen your mind-body connection.

2. Practice breathing with rib movement to create good posture.

3. Walk every day to establish a daily exercise habit.

Using the three steps above, you’ll not only build a foundation for returning to regular exercise but forge a commitment to a healthier lifestyle that’s built to last.

Look for next week’s article to guide you through body-weight movements to restore strength and range of motion.

Dana Santas is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, registered yoga teacher and mind-body coach known as the Mobility Maker. Author of “Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief,” she’s the yoga coach for the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Lightning and others in Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the Professional Golfers’ Association and World Wrestling Entertainment.

CNN-Bulletin CNN-Regional

URGENT – UK, US and Canada expose Russian cyberattacks on Covid-19 research centers

(CNN) — Russian cyber actors are targeting organizations involved in coronavirus vaccine development, according to a new warning by US, UK and Canadian security officials on Thursday that details activity by a Russian hacking group called APT29, which also goes by the name “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear. “An advisory published by the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) details activity by the Russian hacking group and explicitly calls out efforts to target US, UK and Canadian vaccine research and development organizations. Cozy Bear is one of two hacking groups linked to Russian intelligence that is believed to have accessed the Democratic National Committee’s internal systems in the lead-up to the 2016 US election, but Thursday’s announcement is the first time this group has been named in connection to cyberattacks related to the coronavirus pandemic.


Find out which countries are welcoming US tourists back

Forrest Brown and Brekke Fletcher, CNN

Once one of the world’s most powerful travel documents, the might of the United States passport has been diminished during the pandemic. With US Covid-19 cases now past the 32.4 million mark, some nations continue to view vacationers warily even as more Americans get vaccinated.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether travel to international destinations is a good idea. The health risks are obvious. Variants of the virus have emerged. Nations might change their rules at any time. You may have to adhere to strict curfews and mask mandates. Violations could involve big fines and even jail time.

If you want expert input into your decision, the US State Department and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide Covid-19 risk assessments by country. The CDC rates many of the countries open to US travelers at Level 4, at the highest risk for Covid-19.

Also, keep this in mind: All air passengers 2 and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test that’s no more than 72 hours old to enter the United States. That includes US citizens returning from trips to other countries. Check here for the latest CDC international travel guidance for fully vaccinated people.

What follows is an alphabetical list of countries and territories where it’s still possible for US passport holders to go for a vacation. The most recently added information is in bold type for faster scanning:


Set on the Adriatic Sea, Albania remains open. While there’s no Covid-19 test requirements or quarantine to enter, expect a health screening. More info: US Embassy.

Antigua and Barbuda

US travelers 12 and older to Antigua and Barbuda arriving by air must present a negative Covid-19-RT-PCR (real time polymerase chain reaction) test result, using a nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab. It must be taken within seven days of the flight.

Visitors are subject to monitoring by health officials for 14 days and another Covid-19 test may be required, which could mean quarantining while waiting for the result. More info: US Embassy | Antigua and Barbuda government website.


From the historic capital of Yerevan to wild national parks, Armenia is open to US tourists. To enter, you are asked to have a negative result from a Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival or take a test upon arrival for about $40 and self-quarantine until you get your result. More info: US Embassy | Armenia’s official Covid-19 travel website.


Scroll down to the “Dutch Caribbean” entry below for information on Aruba and other islands in this group.

The Bahamas

UPDATED: Visitors 11 and older must have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result no more than five days old before arrival. Once you have the negative result, you can apply for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa here. Fully vaccinated travelers must upload proof of inoculation and are exempt from testing starting May 1. All travelers must opt-in to Covid-19 health insurance; the cost is included in the health visa fee. Get updates: US Embassy | Bahamas’ travel website.


UPDATE: New protocols are slated to start May 8; click this link to learn more. Until then, US citizens must complete an online travel form and submit it 24 hours before leaving. You must present a valid negative Covid-19 PCR test result, taken within 72 hours of arrival. All travelers must take a rapid antigen test on arrival.

As the US is designated a high-risk country, you must still quarantine at an approved hotel or resort until you get a second test and negative result. The quarantine is a minimum of five nights. You must also wear an electronic tracking bracelet. More info: US Embassy | Visit Barbados website.


UPDATE: To enter this Central American nation, you must download the Belize Health App and input your information no more than 72 hours before arriving.

You can bring an official vaccine card reflecting that you’ve gotten inoculated at least two weeks before arrival. Otherwise, have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 96 hours of arrival or a rapid test within 48 hours of arrival. Or you can be tested upon arrival at a cost of $50. You must have proof you’ve booked a room at a gold standard hotel. More info: US Embassy | Belize Tourism Board.


This Atlantic island requires each inbound passenger 10 and older to apply for travel authorization at the cost of $75 per adult and $30 for flight crew and children 9 and younger. Upon arrival, passengers must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken no more than five days before departure.

You’ll be tested again at the airport and quarantined while waiting for those results. More tests are required on days four, eight and 14 of your visit. Click here for specific instructions for immunized travelers. More: US Embassy | Bermuda Tourism Authority.


This landlocked South American country of wildly varying landscapes allows US visitors but has recently tightened requirements. To enter, those 6 and older must have a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. Expect a health screening. You must quarantine for 10 days and take another PCR test on day seven. More details: US Embassy.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

US citizens may enter Bosnia and Herzegovina, known for cosmopolitan Sarajevo and gorgeous lakes, with a negative Covid-19 PCR test result that’s no more than 48 hours old. More info: US Embassy | Bosnia Border Police


US citizens can enter this safari favorite with a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours before departure. If you fail to provide test results or show coronavirus symptoms, you will have to quarantine for 14 days at your own expense. Expect “inconsistent application of rules” or sudden changes in policy. Learn more: US Embassy.


UPDATE: South America’s largest country continues to have very high number of daily cases of Covid-19. The US State Department has it at a Level 4 Travel Advisory (do not travel). If you still choose to go, you must fill out a health declaration and present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken with 72 hours of boarding the flight. Be sure to read about the requirements for various ages. Get details: US Embassy.

British Virgin Islands

UPDATE: US citizens need a travel certificate that you can get at the BVI Gateway website. There’s a $175 entry fee. You need a negative Covid-19 test result taken five days or less before travel to enter. You’ll also get another test on arrival and quarantine four days. You must also test again on day four. More info: US Embassy | BVI government website.


All arriving passengers to Colombia should either have a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test taken no more than 96 hours before departing; take a test upon arrival and quarantine while waiting for a negative result; or go into mandatory isolation for 14 days. Find out more: US Embassy | Colombia’s travel website

Costa Rica

US visitors must complete a health pass form but are not required to take a Covid-19 PCR test. You must have proof of travel medical insurance, which you can get in Costa Rica. More details: US Embassy | Visit Costa Rica website

Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

US citizens must have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result no more than five days old before arrival. You must fill out a travel declaration form and pay the fee online. You’re encouraged but not required to quarantine for two weeks. Learn more: US Embassy.


UPDATE: Croatia is once again open to US leisure travelers. You must do one of the following to enter: 1. Provide proof of a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test that’s no more than 48 hours old upon arrival. 2. Provide a certificate of full vaccination. 3. Provide a medical certificate that you have recovered from Covid-19 in the past 11 to 180 days. 4. Take a PCR test immediately upon arriving and self-isolate until getting a negative result.

You must also fill out an official entry form and have proof of accommodation paid in full and advance. More details: US Embassy.


NEW: Both parts of this politically divided Mediterranean island are open to US tourists. The Republic of Cyprus and the northern third of the island administered by Turkish Cypriots (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) each have their own rules of entry and testing. Get all the details here: US Embassy in Nicosia | Visit Cyprus


UPDATE: This Eastern Caribbean island is open. All travelers must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken 72 hours before arrival. You must fill an electronic Immigration and Customs form via Dominica’s online portal 24 hours before traveling. You must take a rapid test upon arrival. The US has deemed the island a high-risk country. You must book and stay at a “Safe in Nature” certified property and take another PCR test on day five. More info: US Embassy | Discover Dominica.

Dominican Republic

UPDATE: All arriving and departing passengers must fill out an electronic entry and exit form; it can only be in digital form. Covid-19 tests aren’t required, but Dominican Republic authorities will give breath tests to a small percentage of random passengers plus anyone showing symptoms.

The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism now offers free viral antigen testing to all international visitors staying in hotels. The US Embassy says PCR test results have been reliably available within 72 hours but could be affected by increased demand. More info: US Embassy |


Scroll down to the United Arab Emirates entry below.

Dutch Caribbean islands

Find out the important details on these various Dutch islands in the Caribbean by clicking on the links:

Aruba: All US visitors 15 and older must fill out a health assessment and have a negative Covid-19 test result. JetBlue passengers can take an at-home, saliva-based test. You must fill out an embarkation and disembarkation card and purchase Aruba Visitors Insurance. More info: Aruba’s official tourism site.

Bonaire: You must fill an online health declaration form. A negative result from a Covid-19 test is required to enter. Find out more on the tests and other details: Bonaire Crisis.

Curaçao: All US visitors must present proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of traveling. You must fill out a digital immigration card and passenger locator card at People from high-risk countries, which includes the United States, must take a rapid antigen test on day three of their visit. A curfew is in effect that tightens tourist activities. More info: Traveling to Curaçao | Curaçao news bulletins.

Sint Maarten: An autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sint Maarten shares an island with the French collectivity of Saint-Martin. To visit Sint Maarten, US visitors must fill out a mandatory health authorization application. You must also have a negative result from a PCR for Covid-19 taken within 120 hours or less or from an antigen test that’s taken with 48 hours of departure. Covid-19 health insurance is mandatory.

Get more US consulate information on all these Dutch islands by clicking here.


Travelers 3 and older must have proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR or rapid antigen test taken within three days of arrival to avoid quarantine. Or you can present a completed vaccination card. Testing is available for those who don’t arrive with a negative result. You must quarantine at an approved facility while waiting for results. The US Embassy suggests you advise a lab that you need test results within 72 hours for your return flight to the US. The Galapagos Islands have additional entry requirements. More info: US Embassy.


US travelers to Egypt need to present a negative PCR Covid-19 test result. Carefully read the US Embassy’s advice on the timing of the test — from North America, it should be no older than 96 hours before flight departure. Travelers must present paper copies; digital copies aren’t accepted. Children 5 and younger are exempt. You may be required to show proof of health insurance. You may travel to the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el Sheikh without a PCR test, but you must be tested upon arrival and quarantine until you get a negative result. Details: US Embassy.


Ethiopia requires arriving US citizens to have a medical certificate with a negative Covid-19 PCR test before boarding their flight that’s no more than 120 hours old. There’s also a seven-day quarantine. Before you travel there, closely monitor news reports about human rights abuses and killings in the northern Tigray region on the border with Eritrea. More info: US Embassy.

French Polynesia

NEW: After a closure of several months, travelers are welcome to come back to the South Pacific islands of Tahiti on May 1. French Polynesia requires a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of departure, to be presented before boarding. You must fill out an online ETIS form before you go.

If you are vaccinated, you need to present proof of your CDC card into ETIS. If you got a Pfizer or Moderna shot, you can travel the day of your second shot. If you got Johnson & Johnson, you must wait 14 days to travel to French Polynesia. Travelers who caught Covid-19 but are recovered can enter with a serological test that shows a positive test for antibodies. Upload proof to ETIS with a doctor’s note. Non-vaccinated or naturally immune travelers will be required to quarantine for 10 days, even with a negative test result. Get more important details: Islands of Tahiti | FAQ document


US travelers can visit Georgia, a geographical and cultural crossroads at the Caucasus Mountains. Fully vaccinated people can enter with documentation. Otherwise, you need to complete an application form and show negative results from a Covid-19 PCR test result taken within the past 72 hours. You’ll need to get a follow-up test on your third day. More: US Embassy | Ministry of Foreign Affairs


This West African cultural jewel is open US travelers. You must have a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure. Arriving passengers then must take a second test that costs $150. There’s also a temperature screening. Details: US Embassy.


Greece is now open to US travelers who are either fully vaccinated or those with a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test that’s no more than 72 hours old upon arrival. You must fill out an online passenger locator form. Would-be tourists should be aware Greece is still under a lockdown and curfew. More information: US Embassy.


UPDATE: This Caribbean island is welcoming US visitors, but they must do the following: Have health insurance that covers Covid-19 illnesses; present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result within 72 hours of departure (for 6 and older); apply for travel authorization with the Ministry of Health; take a second test on day five to be allowed to move about or remain at the hotel for the rest of the vacation. Starting May 1, fully vaccinated travelers have to quarantine for only 48 hours. Details: US Embassy | Grenada’s Ministry of Health.


UPDATE: People 10 and older entering Guatemala by air and land must have one of the three following: 1. A negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test or antigen test taken 72 hours or less upon arrival. 2. Evidence of a Covid-19 vaccine completed at least two weeks before arrival. 3. Evidence you’ve had Covid-19 and recovered in the past three months. You must fill out an online health pass. No quarantine. Travelers who have visited to Brazil, South Africa or the UK may be denied entry. More details: US Embassy.


Travel to Honduras is permitted with a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR or serology test. You must also fill out an online precheck form. Travelers who have been to the UK or South Africa must quarantine for 14 days. Learn more: US Embassy.


Starting April 6, US travelers who have proof of being fully vaccinated or those with proof of contracting Covid-19 but are now recovered may enter Iceland. This exempts US visitors from testing and quarantine requirements. Important details: US Embassy.


US travelers are still allowed to visit, but restrictions on movement could make it a very limited vacation. You must fill out a passenger locator form — failure to do so could result in fine or even jail time. You must present a negative Covid-19 RT- PCR test result taken within the previous 72 hours to enter. There’s a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arriving Americans regardless of Covid-19 or vaccination status. Additional info: US Embassy | Irish government travel page.


UPDATE: Jamaica requires that you fill out an online travel authorization form. There’s the possibility of being tested upon arrival. All passengers arriving from the United States 12 or older are required to upload negative results from a Covid-19 PCR, NAA, RNA or antigen test within three days of the travel date. More details: US Embassy in Jamaica | Visit Jamaica website.


UPDATE: Kenya is open to US travelers with a negative Covid-19 test result taken 96 hours or less upon arrival and who pass a strict health screening. No quarantine. Arriving visitors have a QR code and departing travelers must have a TT code from the Trusted Travel initiative. More info: US Embassy.

The Maldives

UPDATE: All arriving tourists who are 1 or older must have a negative result for a PCR Covid-19 test taken within 96 hours of arrival. This includes vaccinated travelers. There is no mandatory quarantine. More: US Embassy | Maldives’ official tourism website.


US travelers with a long vacation and who wish to sidestep the EU travel ban can visit. Passengers who transit via a “safe corridor country” that allows US visitors may enter Malta after they’ve been in that country for 14 days. For example, US travelers can stay 14 days in Turkey or Ireland and then be eligible to enter Malta. All passengers must fill out Public Health Travel Declaration and the Passenger Locator forms before departure. Details: US Embassy.


The land border between the US and Mexico remains closed through at least May 21, but US travelers can still fly there. No testing requirements are in place to enter, but the State Department lists numerous states to avoid because of crime. You can expect temperature checks and other screenings upon arrival. More: US Embassy.


This Balkan nation is allowing US travelers with any of the following: 1. A negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test issued by a registered lab that’s no more than 72 hours old upon arrival. 2. A positive result for IgG antibodies not older than 30 days. 3. Proof of a second vaccine dose received seven days ago or longer. Get more information: US Embassy | Institute of Public Health of Montenegro.


This North Africa favorite is open to specific US travelers only. You should fly directly from the US as Morocco has suspended flights from many other nations until May 10 under its “Health State of Emergency.” You must have reservations with a Moroccan hotel or travel agency or be invited by a Moroccan company. A printed, negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours before departure is required to enter. Expect a health screening. No mandatory quarantines are in place, but local curfews are. Details: US Embassy | Visit Morocco.


US citizens can visit this southern African desert nation, which requires a negative Covid-19 PCR or rapid antigen test result that’s not older than seven days. If the test is older than seven days, you’ll be tested and placed in quarantine at your own expense as you await the results. More info: US Embassy.


US travelers can visit the landlocked Himalayan nation. You’ll need a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure or proof of full Covid-19 vaccination to enter. You’ll be tested again upon arrival and must quarantine until you get the results. You’ll also need proof you’ve booked accommodations and proof of travel insurance that covers rescues and treatment. Hikers and mountain climbers have special requirements, including insurance. Find out more: US Embassy.


Home to historical buildings and tropical beaches, Nicaragua is open. You must have a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR or serology test. No time frame is provided for how recent it must be. More: US Embassy | Avianca Airlines.

North Macedonia

North Macedonia is open. No tests are required. There’s no quarantine unless you’re arriving via Africa. Airports conduct thermal screenings for all passengers. Details: US Embassy | TAV Macedonia.


A Covid-19 PCR or antigen test with a negative result, taken 48 hours or less before arrival time, is required to visit Panama. If the test results are older than 48 hours, you must take a rapid Covid-19 test at the airport. You must also fill out an online health affidavit. Cruise ship passengers can’t disembark here. More info: US Embassy | Visit Panama.


Travelers from the United States 12 and older may enter Peru for tourism with a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test or antigen test or a medical certificate of epidemiological discharge, all no more than 72 hours old. There’s still a 14-day quarantine on arrival, but if you test negative on an antigen test once you’ve entered the country, you can suspend the quarantine. You must also fill out an affidavit of health. More details: US Embassy | Lima airport protocols.


Visitors to Rwanda must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result, taken within 72 hours of departure. They also must take a second test upon arrival, shelter in a hotel and receive their results within a day. The national parks are open, including primate tracking. To enter a park, you must have a negative test result less than 72 hours old. Additional info: US Embassy | Visit Rwanda


Senegal, known for its beaches and music, welcomes US tourists. To enter, all people 2 and older must present an original Covid-19 PCR test certificate with a negative result that was taken five days or less before arrival. There’s no quarantine. More: US Embassy.


US citizens need to provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within the previous 48 hours to visit. More info: US Embassy.


These Indian Ocean islands are open. You must show proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours before traveling and have valid health insurance to cover Covid-19 related costs. Vaccination status will not affect entry. You must apply for a travel authorization online. More information: Seychelles Travel Advisory Updates

South Africa

UPDATE: One of the most popular destinations in Africa has reopened to US citizens. You need a negative Covid-19 PCR or serology test result taken within 72 hours of departure to enter. The US Embassy is getting reports of shortages of PCR tests and some results taking longer than the 72-hour window required for the return flight. Be aware some nations aren’t allowing entry to tourists who have recently been to South Africa. More: US Embassy.

South Korea

US visitors to South Korea must provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure. US travelers must also quarantine for 14 days upon arrival even with a negative test or full vaccination. You must also submit to health screenings and download a self-diagnosis app with daily reports. More: US Embassy.

Sri Lanka

The tropical island off India’s southeastern coast has opened back up to all nations. You must have a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test to enter, taken within 72 hours of your flight. You must also undergo another test on arrival. Visitors who aren’t fully vaccinated must stay at least 14 days at an approved hotel or resort “bio-bubble.” Fully vaccinated travelers are free to leave an approved hotel once they get a negative result from the test taken on arrival. More official information: US Embassy | Sri Lanka Tourism.

St. Kitts and Nevis

UPDATE: To visit, you must fill out a travel authorization form before arrival and upload a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken 72 hours or less before you start your trip. You must stay on approved hotel property for your first seven days. You must take another test on day seven of your visit if you’re staying longer. If it’s negative, you can move about on a limited basis. For stays of 14 days or longer, a third test is required. Fully vaccinated travelers must submit their record card; they’ll have a shorter quarantine and looser restrictions. Additional information: US Embassy | St. Kitts Tourism.

St. Lucia

UPDATE: US citizens 5 and older must provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test that’s taken within five days of arrival. Visitors must also complete a travel registration form and arrive with a printed copy. You must have confirmed reservations at a Covid-certified property for the first 14 days. You may leave the resort if your vacation continues. More information: US Embassy | St. Lucia travel website.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

UPDATE: The recent eruptions at La Soufrière volcano on St. Vincent could make travel to that island difficult or impossible for now. US travelers must have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken 72 hours or less before arrival. You’ll be retested upon arrival. As the United States is considered a high-risk country, a quarantine of 14 days and additional testing is mandatory. You must also fill out a prearrival form. You can get official Covid-19 protocol documents here. Learn more: US Embassy.


UPDATE: A favorite for safaris and beaches, Tanzania is open to tourists. Incoming passengers are required to fill out a health surveillance form and have a health screening. You might also have to take a Covid-19 test if the airline you’re flying with requires it. For return trips to America, the US Embassy says 72-hour results aren’t readily available. More info: US Embassy.


US passport holders can again visit this popular Asian destination. You must have a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours old upon arrival. There’s a mandatory quarantine of 10 days, plus additional testing requirements during your stay. The mandatory quarantine period has been shortened to seven days for travelers who have been fully vaccinated. Get crucial details here: US Embassy | Royal Thai Embassy.


UPDATE: Tunisia is open to US passport holders. You need to complete this online questionnaire before you arrive. You need a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before the start of travel to enter. Starting May 3, you must also quarantine for seven days at a government-selected hotel and then take a second test from day five to day seven. More info: US Embassy.


Turkey requires that US citizens 6 years and older have a negative Covid-19 test result taken 72 hours or less before their flight to enter. Passengers must fill out a form for entry and prepare to be checked for coronavirus symptoms. More details: US Embassy.

Turks and Caicos

Visitors must fill out a travel authorization form and provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within five days of arrival. Children 9 and younger are exempt. Travelers must complete an online health questionnaire and carry travel medical insurance to cover any Covid-19-related costs. More info: US Embassy | Visit Turks and Caicos


This lush nation in Central Africa is open to US tourists who have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken no more than 120 hours before departure. More info: US Embassy.

United Arab Emirates

Tourist visas for US citizens are being issued at the Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports. Travelers 12 and older must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result within 96 hours of departure. Even with a negative test, you might still need to quarantine (depending on the emirate) and take a follow-up test. More info: US Embassy.

United Kingdom

Technically, US travelers may still travel to the United Kingdom, but travel for leisure is being highly discouraged. You should closely follow news reports on virus variants and watch for updates on the US Embassy link here before making any plans. If you still choose to go, you must have a negative Covid-19 test result taken 72 hours before departure to enter and quarantine for 10 days. You must fill out a declaration form. Also note that rules may vary between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Click this UK government link for more details.


Known for Victoria Falls and wildlife, Zambia is allowing all international travelers to enter. You’ll need a negative Covid-19 test result taken at least 14 days before arrival. There’s a mandatory 14-day quarantine. The US Embassy has not posted information on the speed of test results for your return to the US. More: US Embassy.

Recently removed from the open list

The following countries had been allowing US citizens to enter but have closed again or were removed by CNN Travel for other reasons:

Anguilla: This island’s borders are closed until midnight May 6 as it changes its Covid-19 safety protocols.
Bangladesh: While technically still open, a flight suspension and lockdown until at least midnight May 5 makes travel there highly difficult.
Cambodia: The US Embassy reports the Southeast Asian nation has stopped issuing tourist visas; you can still apply for business-linked visas.
Chile: It has closed its borders to almost all tourists through May.
Saba: The very extensive entry requirements currently exclude all but a few US citizens from this small Caribbean island.
St. Barts: Temporarily closed to all tourists.

Omitted countries

This is a curated list. CNN Travel has omitted certain open countries if they had very limited numbers of US travelers before the pandemic; have ongoing or recent armed conflicts, terrorism or rampant crime and unrest; or have entry requirements so extensive and complicated that they put the country out of reach of almost all US citizens. However, you can click here to check for the status and entry requirements of any country or territory in the world.