On Monday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged that President Biden is still considering the idea of forcing domestic travelers within the United States to undergo vaccine or testing requirements.
A reporter asked Jean-Pierre, “The U.S. is now accepting fully vaccinated travelers from countries that were previously restricted during the pandemic. And given how rapidly the Delta variant spread here within the United States over the summer, why are there still no vaccine or testing requirements for domestic travel?”
“So, you know, we say this all the time: Everything is on the table,” Jean-Pierre answered. “We just don’t have any announcement to preview right now on this. So, I don’t have anything more to share on the domestic travel.”
California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein called for vaccine requirements for domestic travel on September 29 in a bill titled the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act. Feinstein’s website stated:
The bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration, to develop national vaccination standards and procedures related to COVID-19 and domestic air travel in order to prevent future outbreaks of the disease. …
The legislation builds on a current CDC requirement that all air passengers traveling to the United States from a foreign country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19. Last week, the Biden administration announced it will work with airlines to implement additional protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on international flights.
We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating COVID-19 surge. We simply cannot allow that to happen again. Ensuring that air travelers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease is critical to prevent the next surge, particularly if we confront new, more virulent variants of COVID-19.
This bill complements similar travel requirements already in place for all air passengers – including Americans – who fly to the United States from foreign countries. This includes flights from foreign countries with lower COVID-19 rates than many U.S. states. It only makes sense that we also ensure the millions of airline passengers that crisscross our country aren’t contributing to further transmission, especially as young children remain ineligible to be vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated as recently as October 4:
Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s recommendations for people who are not fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization can travel safely within the United States.
CDC will update these recommendations as more people are vaccinated, as rates of COVID-19 change, and as additional scientific evidence becomes available. This guidance applies to travel within the United States and U.S. territories.
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