▶ Watch Video: Gottlieb says U.S. likely “much further in this epidemic than we’re picking up

The U.S. will maintain current travel restrictions for international travelers, citing the spread of the Delta variant and rising COVID-19 cases among the unvaccinated, a White House official confirmed to CBS News. 

The White House is facing pressure from the tourism industry and those with loved ones in the U.S. to lift the restrictions. The Biden administration understands the importance of travel and wants to reopen international travel safely, the official said, but noted that the Delta variant is highly transmissible, and the White House expects cases are likely to continue rising in the weeks ahead. Recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that Americans should avoid travel to the United Kingdom. Reuters first reported that U.S. travel restrictions will remain in place. 

The U.S. now prohibits most non-citizens who have been to the U.K., many other European nations, India, South Africa, Brazil, China and some other countries from traveling to the U.S. Travel is also restricted from neighboring Canada and Mexico, although Canada will soon allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into the country

The Delta variant accounts for about 83.2% of COVID-19 cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website currently says.

However, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, sounded a more optimistic note, saying Sunday that the U.S. may be  further along in the Delta-driven COVID-19 epidemic than CDC models are picking up. 

“We’re not doing a lot of testing. More of the testing that we are doing is antigen tests that are being done at home and not getting reported,” Gottlieb said. “So, I think we’re much further into this epidemic than we’re picking up and hopefully further through this epidemic.”