President Biden announced that in addition to the testing requirement going into effect January 26th for passengers arriving in the U.S. off of international flights, there will be a quarantine requirement as well.
Biden announces the administration will require anyone boarding a plane to the United States must test negative for COVID beforehand and then quarantine (presumably for two weeks) after getting here. pic.twitter.com/nYZJuMrfeY
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) January 21, 2021
The details of the quarantine rule haven’t been published yet – who it applies to (for instance, already airline crew are exempt from testing) and how long it will last.
It’s possible that the quarantine isn’t in addition to testing as Biden laid out, but in lieu of, since there are constitutional problems denying the right of entry to U.S. citizens. However taking Biden’s statement as-intended, it’s unlikely to be enforced. The CDC’s track record handling international arriving passengers during the pandemic is very poor and it’s unlikely they can improve overnight. There’s also not a good enough data handoff of passengers lists to local health departments or state authorities to follow up.
The virus is already rapidly spreading in the U.S. A testing and quarantine requirement won’t change that. The concern now is over mutations in the virus, many of which have occurred overseas, entering the U.S. The U.K. B.1.1.7 variant is already here, and perhaps 1% of current infections. It’s expected to become 40% of infections by March.
We don’t have the genomic surveillance in place that the U.K. has so we simply don’t know what variations are occurring in the SARS-CoV-2 virus here in the U.S. So when you hear something like “the South Africa variant hasn’t been detected yet” know that this is as likely a function of lack of looking for it as it not being here.