Requiring a negative Covid-19 test to fly to the U.S. did not stop the Omnicron variant from entering the country, and it didn’t stop the Omicron wave. Requiring testing for travel but not for anything else makes no sense at all. The antigen tests that are accepted are hardly a guarantee against a passenger carrying the virus. We aren’t pursuing an ‘eradication’ policy against Covid like China is. Barely-piecemeal efforts are largely symbolic.
We have tools to protect ourselves from bad outcomes associated with the virus, and to treat it. Hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. There’s simply no public health justification for the requirement at this point.
Nonetheless, White House Covid Advisor Jeff Zients say lifting the testing requirement is off the table.
White House COVID Advisor Jeff Zients says "there are no plans to change the international travel requirements at this point." pic.twitter.com/UHSQSmkhfT
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) April 5, 2022
Lifting the testing requirement followed by a rise in cases (even when unrelated) would make the Biden administration look bad. Placing a requirement on foreign travel plays into our xenophobia, even though readers here understand that it isn’t strictly foreigners who have to test.
And it’s especially awkward to lift the testing requirement right after the Biden administration spent $2 billion distributing tests, even though only some of the tests sent out are even eligible to be used with a paid proctoring service and thus useful for travel.
As I wrote as these tests were being distributed, it’s easier to lift the masking requirement since that involves more domestic travel than international travel. It would take a serious lobbying push by industry to get the Biden administration over the hump. So far they’ve sent a letter.
(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)