New travel restrictions requiring a negative COVID-19 test for anyone entering the United States on an international flight went into effect Tuesday. Now discussions are taking place about a similar rule for domestic air travel.
“We’re actively looking at it,” Dr. Marty Cetron, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told reporters on a call Tuesday.
“These are conversations that are ongoing, and [we are] looking at what the types and locations of testing might be,” Cetron said.
During his first week in office, President Joe Biden said more regulations were necessary until the pandemic is under control.
Those regulations could include new domestic travel restrictions and new rules for people crossing into the country by land.
Cetron said Biden’s directive is the reason the CDC is considering the domestic flight rule, and that improved testing makes it more of a possibility than in the past.
“We realize that there’s been a dramatic evolution and increase in both testing platforms and testing capacity,” Cetron said.“I think this is a really important part of our toolkit to combat this pandemic.”
The U.S. remains a hot spot for the pandemic with more than 26 million cases and 425,000 deaths. CDC officials expect the nation to reach 500,000 deaths by mid-February.
While new restrictions on domestic flights are still in the discussion stage, health officials said Americans need to be proactive about their travel decisions.
“The bottom line message is this is really not the time for people to be engaging in discretionary travel, and that travel should be postponed until we get a better handle on this virus,” Ian Brownlee, an acting assistant secretary for the State Department, said on the same call with reporters.
In addition to a change in administrations and priorities, the emergence of variants of the virus is causing health officials to consider new regulations.
Cetron said those factors have led the administration to encourage the CDC to “use all measures that we have at our disposal here.”
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