US considers Covid-19 testing requirement for domestic air travel
(CNN) -- The Biden administration is considering a rule that would require negative Covid-19 test results for domestic air travel, according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
"There's an active conversation with the CDC right now," Buttigieg told Axios. "What I can tell you is, it's going to be guided by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out."
On Monday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that screening US travelers for Covid-19 could be helpful. But she did not expand upon whether there are plans to test domestic travelers.
"To the extent that we have available tests to be able to do testing, first and foremost, I would really encourage people to not travel," Walensky said during a White House briefing. "But if we are traveling, this would be yet another mitigation measure to try and decrease the spread."
Domestic vs. international testing
The discussion follows a CDC rule that went into effect at the end of January requiring negative Covid-19 tests for international travelers, US citizens and residents entering the United States.
The US Travel Association, a national nonprofit industry body, hailed that rule for inbound travelers as "key to reopening international travel."
However, the group does not support a testing requirement for domestic air travelers.
The group called mandatory testing for domestic travelers "impractical," noting that there aren't defined ports of entry and that such a measure could "divert scarce public health resources away from other priorities."
Other groups raise concerns
Industry body Airlines for America has also expressed concern about the possible testing requirement for domestic air travel.
In a recent letter to the White House, the organization highlighted the risk-based measures to stemming Covid-19 transmission that the industry has adopted and research showing that the risk of in-flight infection is low.
"Given the strong scientific evidence that the risk of Covid-19 transmission onboard an aircraft is very low, we believe that a testing requirement for domestic air travel is unwarranted," the letter reads.
"Further, public health and economic data indicate that this policy would disproportionately prevent low-income travelers and rural Americans in small communities from travel."
A4A also echoed the US Travel Association's concern that such testing would divert resources away from more urgent public health priorities.
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