President Joe Biden has decided not to implement a COVID-19 testing mandate for domestic travelers in the United States based on an apparent lack of scientific evidence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not currently recommending that passengers on domestic air travel be tested, either, and the White House is following their lead for the time being.
As reported by Bloomberg, White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said in a statement:
“President Biden has taken a number of steps to make travel safer since coming into office, including requiring masking on all air travel and public transit, pre-departure testing for inbound international travel and self-quarantine and testing after international travel…At this time, CDC is not recommending required point of departure testing for domestic travel. As always, we will follow the science to bring this pandemic to an end.”
The announcement comes days after officials in the Biden administration, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, seemed to be considering the mandate.
As reported by The Daily Wire on Wednesday,
“Buttigieg didn’t rule out the possibility during an interview with Axios earlier this week. ‘There’s an active conversation with the CDC right now,’ Buttigieg said. ‘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.’”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky commented on the reports in a press briefing on Monday, as well, saying that the requirement could be “another mitigation measure.” As the possibility was circulated in the news media, multiple airline executives spoke out against the logistics of such a condition being implemented.
The Daily Wire reports that Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian shared his disapproval in an interview on Tuesday:
“Bastian told Poppy Harlow on CNN, ‘I think [mandating a negative COVID test for every domestic flier] would be a horrible idea.’ He added that airline travel numbers are ‘starting to grow again, which we like to see’ and that ‘travel domestically … the air transportation system is the safest form of transportation.’
Bastian says that it would also be a ‘logistical nightmare’ that ‘[would] not keep domestic fliers safer.’ He noted that it would not only set back the transportation sector, but the hospitality industry, as well.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was also asked about the rumors on Friday, to which she responded, “Reports that there is an intention to put in place new requirements such as testing are not accurate.”
For passengers traveling internationally into the country, the U.S. has already specified testing requirements in an effort to slow the spread of the virus or the variants that have emerged in recent months.
On “day one” of his administration, Biden signed an “Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel.” The order includes a mask requirement in airports, on commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, including ferries; intercity bus services, and all forms of public transportation as defined by United States code.
Regarding international travel, Biden’s order details that passengers traveling into the United States must provide evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test before entering the country. They also must “comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel,” which include the recommended duration of self-quarantine or self-isolation.
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