CDC refrains from recommending testing on domestic flights

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it has no plans to require coronavirus testing for airline passengers traveling domestically in the United States after a top aide to President Biden said an “active conversation” on the subject was underway. 

“At this time, CDC is not recommending required point of departure testing for domestic travel. As part of our close monitoring of the pandemic, in particular the continued spread of variants, we will continue to review public health options for containing and mitigating spread of COVID-19 in the travel space,” the agency said in a statement.

It added that people should stay home and only travel for essential reasons.

“If someone must travel, getting a viral test 1-3 days before the trip can help them do so more safely. After travel, getting tested with a viral test 3-5 days post-travel and staying home and self-quarantining for 7 days, even if test results are negative, is a recommended public health measure to reduce risk,” the CDC said.

Currently, all passengers traveling to the United States from international destinations are required to have a negative coronavirus test before boarding their flights.

The possibility of mandatory coronavirus testing for domestic U.S. travelers was first floated earlier this month by newly confirmed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 

“What I can tell you is, it’s going to be guided by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out,” Buttigieg said of his overall vision for Transportation Department as it relates to public health in an interview with Axios. 

Buttigieg told the news outlet he and top officials in the department were having “an active conversation with the CDC right now” about possible mandatory coronavirus testing for domestic air travelers. 

Public health officials are working to contain the pandemic, now stretching almost a year, as new variants of the disease are spreading across several states. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has cited airports as a potentially dangerous breeding ground for the virus to spread, especially among travelers who might have the virus but are asymptomatic. 

“There’s more gathering that happens in airports, and so, to the extent that we have available tests to be able to do testing, this would be yet another mitigation measure to try and decrease risk,” Walensky said, according to the Times.

Last week, the White House pressed back on suggestions that the federal government was considering mandating coronavirus testing for domestic U.S. air travelers. 

“Well that would be done through … a policy process internally,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki  said. “But, as I conveyed yesterday, reports that there is an intention to put in place new requirements, such as testing, are not accurate.” 

The CDC issued guidance discouraging Americans from air travel before the July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday last year. 

–Updated at 8:44 a.m.

Tags Jen Psaki Joe Biden Rochelle Walensky
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