I’ve had a lot of odd, surprising jobs in my life and should probably tell more of these stories, especially when they relate to travel. I’ve driven around the state of Michigan giving talks on U.S. foreign policy, cold-called people who might be interested in selling their homes, and sold cars. I’ve also written correspondence under the signatures of two Majority Leaders in Congress.
It’s used cars I want to talk about for a minute. When the business would take cars in on trade, they would get sent to an outside shop for emissions testing. The cost was $35 for a test, or $70 for a passing test. Whereas most shops did re-tests for free, at this one if a car failed the first time they’d charge for the second test but the car always passed. The tech would stick the emissions probe in the tailpipe of his own car, every time.
A reader recently wrote to me about returning to the United States with the current requirement of a negative Covid-19 test to enter by air. This requirement really doesn’t do much to keep Covid-19, or new variants (which are already spreading wildly), out of the country.
- Three day old antigen tests are accepted
- People with negative tests and recent exposure to family members who test positive can fly home
- Arrivals by land don’t have this requirement
- There’s no quarantine or re-testing required
And the quality of testing varies tremendously. Anyone who tests positive can just keep keep trying, using tests with low specificity. This reader took five tests until he finally got a negative one. He had to pay emissions tester four re-testing fees, it seems.
The CDC says that vaccinated people can travel at low risk, that they do not need to quarantine when they return to the U.S., and that they do not much contract or spread the virus. Vaccines produce a stronger immune response than prior infection, yet those with recent prior infection (past three months, with medical clearance to travel) do not need to test to return to the U.S. – but those who have been vaccinated do. Current testing requirements to enter the U.S. are Covid theater.
Yet they aren’t costless. It’s not just the time and expense, either, but travelers might receive a false positive result and have their lives disrupted as well, with their return home delayed – causing problems for work and family. Since the benefit to testing vaccinated travelers is so limited under current rules, those rules should be revised.