CDC Now Says You Need To Get Tested For Domestic Travel

The CDC says you need to get tested for domestic travel, something they didn’t argue was necessary during the Delta surge or the Omicron surge at the beginning of the year. They’re also saying it’s important to be tested for domestic travel but not for indoor dining or concerts.

What, exactly, are they trying to accomplish with this non-binding guidance?

  • If this were the guidance at the start of the pandemic it might have made sense, trying to limit spread of the virus between different parts of the country. But they didn’t offer that guidance and tests weren’t available – the CDC test, the only one permitted to be used, didn’t work.

  • Testing prior to international flights to the U.S. didn’t stop variants from entering the country.

  • Apparently Covid only spreads when your departing on your trip, not when you’re traveling home, because they only suggest traveling prior to your return “if your trip involved situations with greater risk of exposure.”

The U.S. government requires testing prior to flying (but not crossing land borders) back to the U.S. and those tests have to be taken within a day of travel. The CDC, though, recommends testing prior to domestic travel no more than 3 days before your trip.

CDC guidance for domestic travel doesn’t have the force of law. It’s meant to be useful advice to people.

Covid remains a significant threat. Testing is an important tool to identify infections early, because the best treatments like Paxlovid require administration within days of becoming symptomatic. Testing can be a helpful tool prior to spending time indoors with immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable people. But from a policy standpoint ICU capacity is far more important than reported cases.

Nonetheless this advice – to start testing for domestic travel now at this point in the pandemic – isn’t useful to people. Of course, the CDC continues to fail us in even more important ways too.

Meanwhile the FDA no longer considers the pandemic enough of an emergency that 4 year olds can get vaccines while 5 year olds can now get boosters, that it’s taking them 5 months to consider the emergency approval application for Novavax’s vaccine, and that even discussion of updating booster shots from inoculating only against the original Wuhan strain is still more than a month away.

Please don’t say ‘Covid is no worse than the cold’ because (1) even if that were true it’s additive, on top of the circulating cold, which is bad and (2) it is in fact worse – it spreads faster and we’ll get it more often, and there’s some amount of long Covid that is real. Plus the virus keeps mutating. We need new and better vaccines, we have to hope the virus doesn’t become resistant to Paxlovid so we need more treatments (and probably a longer course for Paxlovid to avoid relapse). I take Covid seriously, but at this point it’s hard to take the CDC seriously.

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, 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. It’s always comical how the lefties come on here and just spew their tired programmed talking points they’ve been fed from their liberal media echo chambers.

    Doesn’t matter what you counter them with they are like robotic NPCs that just respond according to their programming.

  2. @DCS – “You keep repeating that statement, totally oblivious to the fact that variants can just as easily develop in the US and do not have enter from another country.” I have made that point explicitly several times and it supports my argument that testing for international arrivals doesn’t prevent spread of variants

  3. Bottom line… if you think cooties is real, you should not be leaving your house until the plandemic is over. What other excise do you have than you don’t care about others to travel or even leave your house unless for emergency purposes, till the cooties plandemic is officially declared over. Any other stance by cooties believers is just plain proof that they ate crappy human beings.

  4. The only people still taking the CDC seriously are the desperate clowns for whom COVID has become a religion.

    Airports these days are happy places filled with mostly unmasked people enjoying each others company while laughing at those bitterly clinging to their face diapers.

    If you’re afraid of the COVID boogeyman man, stay home!

  5. “Airports these days are happy places”

    What the hell are you smoking? Airports are just as miserable today as they have been since late 2001

  6. Maybe that’s just you @bhcompy, and those unfortunate enough to endure a flight with you. With all the laughing at the mask clowns, airports are pretty enjoyable these days…

  7. “Covid remains a significant threat.”

    The uninformed, slightly delusional blog owner is at it again. Covid was never a significant threat and certainly isn’t at this point.

  8. The US averaged 34,200 influenza deaths per year for the last ten years before Covid struck.

    It averages 420,000 Covid deaths per year since January 2020.

    Even since mass vaccination, the death rate remains 11 times higher than for flu.

    But the US vaccination rate is 19% lower than Australia and 8% lower than the UK.

  9. The 420,000 number is a lie. From or with? The books have been cooked since the beginning. Why? Money of course. But hey, your virtue has been noted.

  10. Koggerg, are you Russian interference trying to stir up hate and division in this country. “Lefties”? Like there’s such a homogenized group. Or you watch nothing but Fox “news” and the like – doing what you accuse anyone you don”t agree with of doing, regurgitating expressions you’ve heard and spreading ignorance and hate..

  11. @ LennyD. I disagree. CDC “guidance” does equal “law” to many, especially those state and local governments that thirst for additional control and power.

  12. CDC recommends testing before getting on a plane. Which is a common courtesy to check if you are contagious before flying. Your clickbait headline was unneccesary.

  13. @LK – if CDC just “recommends” it, then it’s optional, right? And as such, can be avoided?
    But we’re REQUIRED to do a test before getting on a plane…so, it’s not really a “recommendation”, is it? It’s a “REQUIREMENT”. Where’s the “clickbait headline”, as you say?

    Do you also, as a common courtesy, check if you are contagious for any other diseases, such as common fly, before you fly? I didn’t think so….

  14. I have made that point explicitly several times and it supports my argument that testing for international arrivals doesn’t prevent spread of variants.

    –Gary Leff

    The argument is as confused as your whole perspective on the issue. First, it presupposes that the reason for testing for international arrivals is to prevent the spread of variants, which is totally false. The reason for international testing is mainly for the second reason I provided: such flights tend to be long and may be from destinations with poorer vaccination rates that in the US. Rather than to have requirements for the every country, the policy treats all equally. Domestic flights are shorter, and the health agencies have a better handle of the status of the virus in the country on which they can base recommendation.

  15. Again, another whacko conservative blaming the world’s problems on “the lefties”. Come up with ideas of your own instead of spending ones time on blaming others. Again, the sky hasn’t fallen. The entire World is suffering from the same problems that COVID brought on. Not just the US. Covid is not a joke. Get this through your heads, people are dying. Tell my family members suffering from long Covid that this is some made up conspiracy like the rest of of the bizarre conspiracy theories that the right makes up.

  16. @DCS – “reason for international testing is … such flights tend to be long ”
    BS. Look at duration of BOS-LHR vs MIA-ANC. Heck, ANC is father from ATL than London (4,290 vs 4,209).

    “…such flights … may be from destinations with poorer vaccination rates that in the US”
    Another load of BS: most of Europe has higher vaccination rate. Yet there is no distinction b/w the origins.

  17. I wish the government, instead of having people get vaccination cards, also had refused vaccination cards. If an unvaccinated person developed Covid-19 and required a ventilator at a hospital they would be denied because because “why not”, they didn’t feel it was necessary. Choices.

  18. @Gennady — Then there is the all-important and unifying glue that you did not address: “[US] health agencies have a better handle of the status of the virus in the country on which they can base recommendations.”


  19. Ha. Behold the “tolerant” liberal, @Gregory. Greggy says deny medical care if you get COVID and refused to get a vaccination. Wow. So hateful and so absolutely pathetic. So I guess a person should be denied medical care if he’s speeding and gets injured in a car accident. Or a woman should be denied an abortion if she gets pregnant while not using birth control. “Choices,” right Greg buddy? So typical for lefty clowns to wish death upon their fellow citizens if the don’t make ‘Greg-approved’ “choices.”

    Btw – writing this from 30,000 feet on way to SFO. Not a mask in site… Beautiful.

    Keep on feelin’ that ignorant hate @Gregory. Looks like that’s what you do best…

  20. The Justice Department needs to be investigating the CDC as a domestic terrorist organization trying to disrupt and divide Americans. We all need to surround the CDC leaderships homes and hound them wherever they go screaming at the top of our lungs like crazy morons. We need to defund the CDC immediately.

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