The U.S. started requiring negative Covid-19 tests for passengers arriving from the U.K. on Monday. These tests, which apply even to U.S. citizens, must have been taken within 72 hours.
Now the federal government is discussing expanding this requirement to other countries, and eventually all countries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other U.S. agencies held a lengthy call with U.S. airlines Wednesday that discussed expanding COVID-19 test requirements to travelers arriving from other countries, sources briefed on the call said.
…The CDC expansion could eventually cover all U.S.-bound international air arrivals, officials said.
U.S. travel restrictions were ineffective at the start of the pandemic because the CDC performed poorly. Testing requirements are enforced by airlines and more likely to be applied consistently as a result.
And a testing requirement is superior to the current ban on travel the U.S. imposes on some places (like Europe and China) but not others (Bahrain, Qatar, Israel) that have some of the worst virus spread in the world.
However a testing requirement will not prevent community spread of the virus in the U.S. because the virus is already here and rapidly spreading. It might mean adding fewer incremental cases which could themselves add to the burden hospitals are facing.
It’s not guaranteed, though, that a testing requirement would replace blanket travel bans, though doing so has already been on the table, at least for the ban on travel to the U.S. by non-residents who have been to Europe in the past two weeks. The ban on travel from China, of course, makes little sense (there’s far less Covid there than here) but remains in place for purely political reasons.