The White House Spent $2 Billion On Tests, Has No Intention To Stop Requiring Them For Int’l Travel

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.

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)

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Health policies should not be formed by lobbyists. Vote these idiots out.

  2. The only way the testing requirement will be dropped is when someone sues the Biden administration all the way to the Supreme Court.
    Gary, what are you waiting for? Get a lawyer and go for it.

  3. You can bet good money that I WON’T be voting for Biden in the next Presidential election.

  4. Can’t wait till the midterm elections!! I want all of them out of office! Voted democrat no longer, total botched as the last guy.

  5. I say if you don’t like the testing requirement, then take the bus/train. Why is it so hard for people to comply? I mean no one likes paying taxes and yet you still comply and pay them.

  6. There is a silver lining to this. The more the democrats piss us all off, the sooner we can get their asses out of office, starting this fall. They need to be held accountable for what’s going on. You’re already seeing it in local elections on other issues. Sure Trump had his shortcomings, but you can be damn sure a lot of this crap would not be going on if he were in office. Better late than never. But I’m glad a lot of people are waking up to the reality this is not about science. I hope that lesson sticks.

  7. One can thank those who voted for this “train wreck”. The last guy was a buffoon and a bully but the economy was good and inflation under control. That’s another subject, though. This whole thing with masks is an effort to continue control over people’s lives…plain and simple. One just needs to read “Animal Farm” again and note the comparisons from the book into our lives today. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” is an example of the “systematic abuse of logic and language to control underlings” (from “Important Quotes Explained”). Someone else said, “Good for thee but not for me!” I note that one comment above used the correct word, “democrat” and not “democratic”. There’s a big difference in the two words and that person used the correct verbiage!

  8. And yet….this is from “the same CDC” just a week ago….”After considering current public health conditions and a increased availability of tools to fight covid-19 ( such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics), the CDC director has determined that an Order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the US is no longer necessary.”

  9. Very disappointed with the Biden Admin on this and so much more. I thought he would at least surround himself with competent people who could help restore faith in government. Nope. Somehow they managed to make the worst President in modern history electable again.

    Congrats on that Dems.

    If 2024 is a choice between Biden and/or Harris vs Trump we need to eliminate both parties due to gross negligence.

  10. $ 2,000,000,000 spent on tests, and I’m looking at one of those right now, a Roche 4-pack (Korea with an EXPIRATION DATE OF January 24, 2022 — a date before these tests were sent out to the US residents. What did the administration do, buy a bunch of expired tests? And all those unclaimed, sitting in warehouses and ready to expire (r already expired), are they going to be hauled off in trash?

    It’s like burning hundreds of millions of dollar bills…for what, exactly?

  11. Welp…..this is the guy you wanted….enjoy!
    Even Canada’s communist nixed this foolishness.

  12. yet they announced this week that they will be dropping title 42- “After considering current health conditions and a increased availability of tools to fight covid-19, ( such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics ), the CDC Director has determined that an order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the US is no longer necessary”. SO – make it easier for untested, unvaccinated, no passport illegals to enter the US.Mexican drug cartels and sex traffickers are loving this, business has never been better! And those of you US citizens who have a passport, been triple vaxed – our answer to you is the middle finger.

  13. @Win the economy does not equal the stock market. Many people conflate these but in fact the economy was NOT great during the Trump administration for the average citizen who did not have their worth tied up in the stock market.
    I do not agree with the policy to test before coming/returning to the States but I also cannot make a blanket statement that everything is worse with Biden in office. There are so many things to unwrap in all these posts its hard to focus on any one but- a two-party system is destined to alienate a lot of people since it has zero nuance in it. People who would not vote for Biden or Trump are forced to pick along party lines or decide between what is the least worst. I’d also note that lack of term limits in Congress is not ideal and leads to too many career politicians (not always bad but also can lead in many cases to unreasonable influence over those politicians by lobbying groups) but will never change because the fox is in charge of that henhouse.
    In any event, Trump did nothing to stop the pandemic and left the current administration to do the best it could with a pile of steaming you-know-what, including the economy. When you think about what happened and the millions of deaths- ask yourself how you could have saved the economy AND lives or which you’d have picked. And then good luck to you, friend, in sleeping at night.

  14. I expect the mask and testing requirement go away on the 18th of April. Today’s extension of the student loan pause until August along with a statement that payments will not commence again until a decision has been made on foregiveness gives you a lot of insight into where the administrations thoughts are as the fall elections approach.

  15. I’d still rather get on a plane full of people that have been tested, than not tested. (Even if imperfect accuracy etc etc)

  16. I am glad our government is run by adults who base pubic healthcare policies in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic on scientific principles and evidence rather than listening to travel bloggers eager to get people flying again so that they can lift their sagging finances by peddling travel reward cards…

  17. It is asinine that illegals cross the border in droves untested and likely unvaccinated, but legal citizens of the USA can’t re-enter tehir country from abroad by air until they prove a negative COVID test. This administration is beyond hope. Send in the next one, and let’s pray its more competent than these clowns.

  18. @Win — you are a clear uneducated MAGA loser. Please educate thyself before pontificating about matters that you are clearly clueless about.


  19. @Gary- Ha, you can always sail to Europe!! If you get the video testing there shouldn’t be any problem. When an African-American is stopped then shot for some minor traffic violation, people always ask “wHy DiDn’t They cOmPly?”. And now when there is testing/masking requirement, it’s as if the world has ended and Trump the savior is coming back to save the world from whatever boogeyman Tucker Carlson says there is at the moment: gays, Disney, trans, blacks, Mexicans, women, libs, anti-Putinists, Sesame Street, tan suits, pizza parlors, masks, testing, and on and on.

  20. BKAloha says:

    “Why is it so hard for people to comply?”

    I love this. I love this because it perfectly summarizes the attitude of the left. It’s not about the policy _behind_ the requirement which can be debated like any policy can.

    It’s about obedience.

    BK your summary is suitable for framing.

  21. @DCS – what scientific principles? what evidence? I’d like to hear your logic or explanation….

    FYI, Zaentz is a moron without a clue. I bet you when he travels, he doesn’t take a test or wear a mask. Just look at all these liberal dummies who preach mask wearing — and then TAKE A PICTURE with masked KIDS without a mask (see VP Harris yesterday).

    Anyone who thinks requiring antigen tests 24 hrs before travel back to US is “science” or “evidence” is just as dumb as these politicians and bureaucrats.

  22. Was on an international flight yesterday which was delayed for about 20 hours (thanks JetBlue!) causing most of the passengers to fall outside of the “one day” testing window for the new departure. I travel with Binax kits, so no big deal for me other than the $25 it costs, but for many or most of the passengers, a good many of whom were elderly and/or infirm, finding a new test in the course of several hours while stuck at an airport was a daunting task that made a bad situation very far worse, turning inconvenience into pure suffering . . . all for no gain in health and only to satisfy the twisted political objectives of the Biden Administration.

    Those who say that CDC regulations would have allowed the old tests to be used because the delay was out of the passengers control and the new departure was within one day of the scheduled departure, you would be correct. But typically, Jet Blue personnel weren’t interested in the actual regulation, refused to read it when presented with the text, and were much more interested in imposing their authority to subject their supplicants to abuse – a characteristic Jet Blue trait. Another reason to get rid of this stupid law.

  23. Look, there is no scientific evidence that “Covid” actually even EXISTS! The whole thing has been only a coordinated, government-orchestrated plot to steal from and suppress the populace worldwide. Don’t believe it. Don’t buy into it.

  24. It is time for US airlines to tell the Biden administration they will not enforce mask or testing requirements and be let it go to court

  25. Gee if only the big Orange dope did something sooner instead of saying when the heat gets here it will go away like the flu or just drink bleach !!!

  26. I’ll just fly to Tijuana and walk over the border like an illegal alien.

    Why not? They aren’t tested either.

    What makes me really laugh is that that the Left doesn’t even see what is coming in November . . .

  27. Hunter must be an investor in BinaxNOW. With 10% going to the “Big Guy” of course.

  28. @Mak,

    Your retesting on your international flight doesn’t ring true.

    1) A Binax kit test is just a self test- would not be acceptable for entry into the US

    2) it very clearly states on the same CDC page that lays out the test requirement, “If the first flight in your trip is delayed past the 1-day limit of testing due to a situation outside of your control (e.g., delays because of severe weather or aircraft mechanical problem), and that delay is 24 hours or less past the 1-day limit for testing, you do not need to be retested.” Out of all the passengers, and JetBlue staff at the airport, no one pulled up the actual CDC requirements?

    3)No one at JetBlue wants to reschedule dozens of passengers who are unable to take the flight because they can’t get a supervised ART test done. They already have enough problems with their own flight delays.

    I believe you were on a Jetblue flight that was delayed 20 hours yesterday- there were hundreds of them. But on the 8 international flights I’ve been on over the last 8 months, there are many passengers correcting requirements with the airline staff- I live in Singapore, so the requirements change rapidly.

    The CDC requirements are pretty clear, and the exemption for flight delays has been there the whole time that the US testing requirement existed. In fact, I’ve flown on a delayed flight to the States and there was no problem with a test that was outside the CDC parameters (at that time still 2 days).

  29. Zients is leaving his position soon. I wouldn’t necessarily put a lot of stock in what he says re: this.

  30. @Mak: The Binax test is proctored by video and is accepted for re-entry into the U.S.

  31. I was talking to an, ah, friend, earlier today about this.

    He said something about editing earlier test results in Adobe Acrobat.

    I didn’t really follow it all.

  32. The sad and broken will still vote blue, the dem’s will promise them a few dollars to feed their habits.

  33. Worthless, time-consuming, expensive theater. And I’m a licensed physician with a background in epidemiology.

  34. Don’t see what the US government buying tests has to do with the inbound US ART requirement, Gary- those tests are done overseas

    I think you just like to stir up a bunch of political commentators. It’s certainly made me read your blog a lot less in the last year, but I guess it works for you.

    While the US testing requirement is mildly inconvenient, at least it’s and ART test, that can be done with a remote monitor. Most countries still have an inbound test, and the PCR ones are much more problematic, because you can continue to test positive for weeks after an infection. In addition, the US also accepts proof of a orior infection in the last 90 days.

    All in all, pretty reasonable- but of course, that’s not really the point of a blog. Much better to hype things up and stir up people to post fake news and slander.

    Good article in the NYT that laid out country by country their testing requirements for inbound travel – most of them still need a test, many PCR. That’s journalism.

  35. BK Aloha do you blindly follow every Governmental directive? Do you not have the ability to think independently? It’s comments like yours that really make me question the direction this country is going in.

  36. DCS now has another follower! Welcome to the fold BK Aloha! The shepherd was running out of sheep.

    After all a good liberal NEVER questions authority!

  37. It’s asinine that the Biden administration is going to fully re-open the southern border to asylum claims without requiring them to be vaccinated or even covid tested but are requiring vaccinated US citizens with a valid passport to take a covid test before being allowed to re-enter the country.

  38. The never ending control that so many Democrats thrive on reminds me about how fortunate we are to be living in a capitalist democracy with strong checks and balances. Otherwise, the Democratic Party of today would be much more like the CCP and @BKAloha would be the proctor monitoring all and deleting most of these comments! Of course, there is no certainty that the checks and balances remain strong in the future as many Democrats talked last year about adding four more Democrats from Purto Rico and DC to the Senate and packing the Supreme Court with leftist judges.

  39. For the fist time in my life I will be voting straight republican in November. The democrats have failed us.

  40. BKAloha seems to think if you SAIL to the US from a foreign country, you don’t have to take a test.

    Perhaps they can share where that is in the regulations.

  41. @George: You miss the issue completely.

    WHY are we required to take the test at all?

    But sheep follow where they are led . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *