Biden Administration Stopped CDC From Offering Guidance On Travel For Those Fully Vaccinated

The CDC’s new guidelines for people that have been fully vaccinated do not allow for travel.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Monday, “Every time there’s a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country.” But this isn’t actually true, and it misses the point completely.

I wrote that this was wrong on the science and many readers pushed back that I should ‘stay in my lane’ and ‘listen to the CDC’. But it turns out that the CDC actually agrees with me and the Biden administration interfered in their guidance document to remove a section on what travel vaccinated people can do. Currently the CDC advises against travel regardless of vaccination. They were going to change that, but the administration stepped in.

An earlier draft of the guidelines included a travel section but senior health officials decided not to release that portion of the recommendations at this time, one senior administration official told POLITICO.

…The CDC guidance for vaccinated people was originally slated to be published March 4 but was put on hold two days before after a series of meetings and calls between health and communications officials, as POLITICO first reported last week.

Health officials have expressed concern that “the administration was interfering in their work,” and Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledges his involvement changing the document “getting the sentences clear so that people would understand it.”

Approved vaccines have all been shown to be incredibly effective at preventing illness, hospitalization and death and even reducing transmission to others. Travel itself isn’t what’s dangerous, it’s what people often do when they travel (large group gatherings indoors) that can cause problems. And that’s less of a problem for those who have been vaccinated. The Biden administration should stop interfering with scientists willing to state the obvious.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Guidelines. From a government that plays it safe. You are correct that too often people abuse things, but that doesn’t mean everybody has to follow suggestions like robots either. What it comes down to is whether people think and do what is sensible…okay, two things not always in abundance. But I’d trust the mature airline passenger any day over, say, the governor of Texas.

  2. “but senior health officials decided not to release that portion of the recommendations at this time,” – get that? Senior health officials. Not political officials but actual health officials decided this unlike the Trump administration where some things were done by people with no background in science. I see nothing that backs up your claim that the CDC agrees with you. Instead I see you pushing the same exact talking points that you have been pushing all along when many scientists are predicting potential surges in the next several weeks. Your claim that the CDC is wrong and that you are somehow right about travel not leading to surges sounds like a load of bull. We have seen example after example of travel causing the spreading of the virus. Simply look at what happened in Sturgis, or the outbreaks in florida. If the virus can only travel several feet then I would like to know how it has gone all around the world but for people travelling and bringing it with them. I’ll stick to relying on legitimate scientists and not someone with no discernible scientific background.

  3. I’m fully vaccinated, but I still need get a COVID test in order to return to the States. Doesn’t make sense. But it is a financial boon to medical laboratories abroad and they sure take advantage of it.

  4. Oh Bill ‍♂️. Keep listening to CNN. Maybe you can join Biden and hide out in his basement while wearing 3 masks.

  5. This edict will be widely ignored, as let’s face it, people having been travelling all along even in the depths of the pandemic when they really should not have.
    My main concern would be the situation at my proposed destination. Will quarantine be likely? Will testing be demanded? Will masks be mandatory? Will shops/museums/ restaurants be closed? Will the airline travel be like a hospital ward? If any of that applies, why go? If a relaxing experience seems unlikely may as well stay home.

  6. Almost everything on this blog is negative. I count an average of 6 or 7 out of 10 negative posts on a consistent basis going back several pages. This person is wrong, that person is bad, I’m not going here again, politicians are doing politician things, this person did a bad thing on a plane.

    I’m sure that your metrics tell you negative is better for clicks than positive but some of us long timers are going from looking forward to this blog to almost dreading it.

    The comments jumped the shark a couple of years ago and slowly deteriorated from a strength to a cesspool. Now unfortunately the content above the comments is getting too tedious.

  7. Larry,
    Biden campaigned endlessly that Trump screwed up covid management in the US and won the election because a lot of people agreed that covid was mismanaged in the US – even though a number of other countries had per capita death deaths is not any different than the US.
    Biden wants to keep the campaign of fear going despite the fact that flu deaths have all but disappeared and the incidence of covid is much lower in people who got the flu vaccine – as was highly recommended.

    Travel has ALWAYS been safe. The issue is the value of travel when local restrictions limited the ability to do things that people normally do.

    Of course, the feds get to prop up airlines to the tune of tens of billions of dollars by imposing rules that can’t and aren’t backed up by science or facts. Anyone that can’t see what is really happening doesn’t want to see it.

    States like Texas and Florida that said that they would do what they believe is in their best interest are precisely where people are moving; it isn’t hard to figure out who real Americans believe is doing it right.

  8. “Waa waa waa – I want to travel, but Biden’s not letting me”. Grow up, and stop posting clickbait headlines that misconstrue what is actually happening and try and try and focus on what is really going on.

    Thank you for posting the video link of the Fauci interview that best lays out the logic on the current health decisions. Like any larger organization, the CDC has multiple perspectives that they try to find as much evidence to base their guidance on. Like Fauci says, in some cases there is not enough evidence to make a data based decision, so some senior health officials (eg, maybe even Fauci) made a judgement call. At the same time, he is clearly signaling that this is not the final CDC position, and guidance will change as data is analyzed and evidence emerges that demonstrates travel can be done safely.

  9. Vaccinated people can still carry the virus. It’s deadly to get people back to travel because old people are fucking idiots. They are running around Florida right now without masks shouting to their friends surrounded by young people who haven’t been vaccinated. This isn’t the time to travel becaues everyone needs to be vaccinated first.

  10. Oh sure, criticize Biden for doing what every other country in the world is doing. Are the other countries allowing vaccinated people to travel freely? gimme a break. “listen to the scientists” well please, they are. They are listening way more than the previous administration did, but im really not here to argue politics.

    I saw one commenter above me say flu deaths are down this year, gee its like social distancing and masks work to prevent disease?! WHOA. Holy, the collective intelligence in this post is quite low i must say.

  11. There is still not enough data to make certain conclusions regarding the spread of COVID-19 and those who are vaccinated. Don’t forget this is a novel coronavirus – it isn’t your standard virus that spreads normally as we all have learned its spread not only through respiratory droplets but also through aerosols. More Americans and honestly more individuals in the world need to be protected to be certain this pandemic ends not just delayed to restart again.

  12. Travel only:
    * Brought the virus to the USA
    * Kept spreading the virus within the USA so that areas who did a good job reducing infections got re-infected again
    * Is currently bringing in and spreading new variants to the USA

    Yeah, travel doesn’t have anything to do with COVID .

  13. Gary, you have every right to veer off the road and ramble about whatever you fancy, this is your blog. But what people have correctly pointed out, repeatedly, is that you have zero medical expertise or experience. And so long as that is the case, your opinions on this topic are worth as much to me as a Facebook rant from my idiot neighbor on the same issue. You’re both on the same rung in terms of the amount of attention and importance I’m willing to ascribe to your opinion. You could both be right and I wouldn’t even know cause I’m not paying attention.

    Do you have any fresh videos of passenger tantrums or other cheap, aviation-related content? I’d love to see me some of those. That’s why I come here baby.

  14. We get the same crap in England. Johnson said reopening the country would be driven by data not dates. Then, when the good data exceeded expectations, we went back to dates. All vulnerable (I’m beginning to hate that word) people have now been jabbed and still it takes four tests to travel to and from the States – if you even have the authority so to do.

  15. Biden has already said that we are on pace to have a domestic opening up of mingling by the Fourth of July. It sounds to me like the Biden Administration is counting on having enough Americans vaccinated with at least one dose by or before Memorial Day that Fourth of July should be back to normal for at least gatherings of family and friends.

    For people that have held out on non-essential travel for nearly a year, complaining about 3-4 more months in a country that really never had much of a comprehensive lockdown seems to be a bit snowflake-ish at this point. But then again we are still part of the “me, me, me” world.

  16. Gary, if we are strictly following the science here, most epidemiologists (including those at the CDC) think that we should currently do very little reopening. Right now, we see a rapid increase in the UK variant, and we don’t have enough people with immunity to prevent an April surge. If we wait two months before reopening, we can get enough people vaccinated such that the partial herd immunity cancels out the higher infectiousness of the UK variant, and we avoid a surge altogether. Look at the example in Israel, which reopened rapidly as soon as rapid vaccinations were underway (but before sufficient herd immunity was reached) and immediately saw a surge with the UK variant. The surge died down after enough people were vaccinated, but now the evolutionary pressure is selecting for the South Africa variant, and we are seeing a rapid increase of that variant.

    So sure, I get that you’d rather senior public health officials be less conservative. But we should understand these guidelines in this context of a likely impending April UK variant surge. We’ve seen throughout 2020 that house parties and family gatherings are the main drivers of contagion, because when public health guidelines are too restrictive and restaurants are operating minimally, people “cheat” or skirt those guidelines by discreetly gathering at home. The Biden COVID-19 team is trying to give vaccinated people a minimal amount of freedom that will make them more like to actually follow guidelines, because they know that “following the science” leads to restrictive guidelines that will be inevitably violated (as we saw starkly in California). Unlike some of us itching to travel (including myself), the average public does not feel that a guideline discouraging travel is as restrictive as a guideline discouraging house parties and family gatherings. Hence, whatever restrictions you can leave in place, you want to leave in place, at least until we get enough herd immunity through widespread vaccinations. You can perhaps consider this a combination of epidemiology and behavioral social science. Obviously it is clear that air travel is less dangerous than gatherings at home, but trying to clamp down on the latter will cause a social uproar, whereas discouraging the former is more acceptable to the average public.

    It is also true that less geographical movement of people does have a significant benefit in terms of slowing down the spread of a new variant — I know you’ll say, “we can’t stop it anyway,” and I’ll agree with that statement, but I am talking degrees here. If we delay the spread of the UK variant by two weeks, that is another 7% of the population immunized at 3 million doses per day (which we expect to reach in a month), and that 7% is actually pretty significant in terms of partial herd immunity (it can mean the difference between exponential growth and flatlining). Major epidemiological simulations do show that significantly reducing travel has the effect of slowing down a new variant by about two weeks.

  17. The US is so lucky to have Biden; already shaping up as the best since FDR. In Australia we continue to suffer under a government of Trumpist loons; they’ve F***’ed up the vaccine rollout to an alarming extent ( but did manage to get themselves vaccinated on day one)…

  18. Gary… you’re what we in the UK call such a wanker.

    I know you think you’re super smart and know soooo much about everything.

    However to compare Biden unfavorably against the previous sh*tshow, wow… as I said you’re a complete tool.

    Your know it all superiority is nauseating.

    I half met you once… you barged uninvited into a conversation I was having the GM of the Park Hyatt Maldives, to give your opinion on what we we talking about. You haven’t changed.

  19. C’mon man. What a bunch of makarky. Joe’s administration is just following the science. The same science that says men and women are physically equal and can compete against each other in athletic events.

  20. @Andy “However to compare Biden unfavorably against the previous sh*tshow, wow… as I said you’re a complete tool.”

    The word “Trump” does not appear in this article at all, how on earth have I compared Biden unfavorably to Trump? And any reading of this site over the past four years makes clear I was no fan.

    “you barged uninvited into a conversation I was having the GM of the Park Hyatt Maldives”

    Certainly not. I’ve met two GMs of the Park Hyatt Maldives, and only spoken to them when they have approached me, and only at my own table at breakfast.

  21. Senior health officials = career employees + political appointees.

    The Biden Administration isn’t creating massive amounts of drama fast enough for some, and so we have fabricated drama from some wings.

    I am hoping that Biden doesn’t do any press conferences anytime soon and that no such press conference is wanted by me anytime very soon.

    The serious business of properly governing is best done by someone who doesn’t feel the need to be an attention-seeking media-hog as often as has been the case with the former guy.

  22. I really don’t know how you can get your arm back there to keep patting yourself on the back. Have you lost weight?

  23. @Gary, You’re welcome. I’m happy to hear. I have been concerned for your health. I would hate for us to lose the Jerry Springer of travel bloggers.

  24. Gary… I agree with you 100%. It’s time we, who have been vaccinated, are allowed to resume our normal lives. Isn’t that why we got vaccinated?
    And, it’s disgusting that someone mentioned us …old folks in Florida ….in such a negative fashion. We have just a limited time left here on earth. I am 83 and my husband is 86.
    We love to cruise and travel.
    Stop and think about us, for a change.

  25. I’ve traveled since last May (after a 2 month break) and no government or CDC recommendation will change that. I take reasonable precautions but also am willing to accept the risk.

    The entire purpose of masks and business restrictions was to w sure the healthcare system wasn’t overwhelmed, not to protect individual people The system now has a lot of excess capacity- time to remove restrictions (and many pro- business governors are doing) and leave it up to personal responsibility for people that want to take addition precautions. Not my job to protect others.

  26. Got to love Fauci’s answer…No one has a clue and we are basically making things up as we go!

  27. I took a middle ground.
    I’m going to travel overseas, but I am waiting until the middle of May to do so.
    Even though fully vaccinated and +2 weeks, I think by May even MORE people will have been vaccinated and I will have a reduced risk of catching thee new variant virus.

    While traveling I will be very proactive should I get sick. I will check out any illness immediately.
    If caught early there are now treatments for Covid-19, so if I start feeling ill, I will seek medical care and get tested.
    I wonder if my regular travel insurance has excluded coverage for covid, I’ll have to check that out.

  28. You can try to travel on public conveyances, but if you do and get caught before the scheduled departure when it is known to individual to be positive for SARS-CoV-2. Be ready for the aftermath of no-fly ban issued by DGMQ followed up with the DNB/LO on your permanent civil history. Just do not do it. Why do you think they require a PCR test before you board (vaccinated or not), the moment you get your results, so does the government.

  29. I liked what you said about travel not being dangerous, that it’s what you do there that counts. I wrote almost exactly the same thing elsewhere! You are so right. You could also say that if you don’t travel, you can get into exactly the same trouble as you can get into if you do travel, if you don’t take the necessary precautions.

    Thank you.

  30. Cancel the Guidance for Travel!!!!! Once again, and like I said in my previous comment, government and Democrats want to keep us like shut-ins. In control and under their thumb just like in China. Socialist, Communist, Liberal, whatever you want to call it.
    It makes no difference what you call it. Covid-19, rampant crime due to illegal immigration, defunding the police, you name it, we got it!
    Its not only going to get dangerous to travel, it’s going to be dangerous to get out of your house! We will have to take all kinds of precautions.

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