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Traveling During the Time of COVID-19  

Puerto Vallarta
Credits: c13studio | Adobe Stock images

Felice and I just returned from a short trip to California to see family, just a few steps ahead of the latest COVID-19 outbreaks in both the U.S. and Mexico.

The differences between how the U.S. and Mexico handled health documentation for entry could not have been more different.

First, the U.S. required us to sign an Attestation form indicating we had received a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test result, which is required within three days of departure. Second, we had to present the required documentation that our tests were negative. Finally, we had to go online to complete a Mexican government form that asked a number of COVID-19 screening questions. The document with a QR code had to be shown to Alaska Airlines at check-in. We were advised to arrive three hours before our flight to ensure all the paperwork could be processed and security cleared. Even with large summer crowds at Vallarta’s airport, two hours was more than sufficient.

Coming home, just the Mexican government’s online form was required by Alaska.

Masks, of course, were required and only pre-ordered food was available. Even the Alaska magazine was missing, to ensure that the virus could not be transmitted.

Now, let’s take a look at the impact of the two policies. The case rate in the U.S. is increasing dramatically, but for now, mostly in low vaccination rate states. As the CDC describe it, the new wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths is nearly all amongst unvaccinated Americans. Arriving airline passengers are not the cause of COVID-19 now, although they may have contributed to introducing the Delta variant.

In Mexico, which made the decision early on not to impede the vacations of its millions of tourists each year, the virus is once again heading into epidemic territory once again. The state of Sinaloa, which includes the tourist mecca of Mazatlán, is now officially red on the stoplight system of measuring Covid-19 spread, the highest number of cases in the country.

Here in Puerto Vallarta, cases are rising exponentially as many unvaccinated Mexican families take summer vacations at the beach sans masks and plane loads of high school graduates celebrate until the wee hours of the morning, without masks and mostly without vaccinations. The CDC said about one-third of that age group is vaccinated.

So how is the more liberal plan working out for Mexico? Well, not so well. Health agencies report that there have been over 1,600 active cases in the last two weeks alone in Puerto Vallarta, topping even Guadalajara, the second largest city in the country. In Cancún, the number one tourist destination in Mexico, Bloomberg reports that cases have reached a point where the Hard Rock hotel has set aside two floors just for guests with symptoms. And, with a 15 percent rise in tourism over June of 2020, Cabo isn’t doing much better.

Yes, traveling in the time of COVID-19 is more of a hassle than usual, but is it really asking too much of tourists to Mexico to take a simple COVID-19 test before arriving to protect themselves and us?


  1. What are the fatality it hospitalization rate? Even the CDC’s data is in question that vaccinated are spreading.

    • On July 31st, Vallarta recorded 336 COVID-19 cases with 7 deaths. This past week there have been 1,949 new cases vs. 1,746 cases the prior week.

  2. How is the covid situation now in PV–Sept 2021? Health protocols being followed? And does patio dining and outside beach time feel relatively safe? Thanks!

  3. Thank you for this site Robert, which I just found. My husband & I have been visiting PV for about 20 yrs almost annually. He is soon to retire (next springish) and we hope to spend many mths per year down there. Love it all.

    We are heading down med-Oct for 5 wks and are a little concerned re COVID. We’ve read of some disturbing instances of visitors contracting COVID and not being able to get any treatment, hositals needing massive cash amts up front, Drs hard to get into etc etc.

    Can you pls give us any feedback on this. Always challenging we understand to suggest a particular Dr but if you have some feedback we’d be very appreciative. Thank you.

    • Summer in Vallarta was difficult with many new cases of Covid, much brought by summer tourists. The rate is now declining and looking much better as more people get vaccinated. Masks and social distancing is still the order of the day, even with those vaccinated. The hospitals were under quite a strain, but that has improved. You should be vaccinated and wear masks in public places here and you will be fine. Yes, hospitals require full payment, but they accept credit cards. Life still goes on and our beautiful weather is just a month away. Enjoy yourselves.


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