Transportation

Buttigieg: Officials consider negative COVID-19 test requirement on domestic flights

Bloomberg/Pool

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that officials are considering a requirement that passengers provide a negative COVID-19 test ahead of domestic flights, according to an interview published on Sunday.

One of President Biden’s first confirmed Cabinet members told “Axios on HBO” that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is engaged in “an active conversation” on whether to implement the requirement.

“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,” he said. “But here’s the thing: The safer we can make air travel in terms of perception as well as reality, the more people are going to be ready to get back in the air.”

Buttigieg’s comments on a potential testing mandate comes after the CDC instituted a requirement for travelers on international flights to the U.S. to test negative for the virus that has infected more than 27 million and killed more than 464,000 in the U.S. alone, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The testing rules for international flights came as U.S. officials expressed concern about the COVID-19 variants found in the United Kingdom and South Africa that are more contagious than the original strain. Both variants have been found in multiple states in the U.S., with 690 cases of the U.K. strain across 33 states and six cases of the South African strain across three states, according to CDC data.

On Monday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky responded to a question about testing at airports by saying more tests could help reduce the spread, particularly from infected people who are not showing symptoms.

The Transportation Department announced on Monday that Buttigieg plans to quarantine after a member of his security detail tested positive for COVID-19 after being with the secretary earlier that morning. Buttigieg has since tested negative and has yet not shown symptoms. 

Tags air travel restrictions airplanes Airports Coronavirus coronavirus restrictions Coronavirus testing COVID-19 domestic flights flights Joe Biden Pandemic Pete Buttigieg planes Rochelle Walensky

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