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Get ready: The Biden administration looks set to announce controversial new COVID rules

Joe Biden face mask

One of the key messages the Biden administration is trying to convey to Americans at this stage of the coronavirus pandemic is that not enough people have been vaccinated, nor have enough people gotten their COVID booster shots yet. However, a much stricter and controversial set of new COVID rules related to international travel — which Biden officials are reportedly set to announce as soon as Wednesday — could end up muddying that message and making an already tenuous vaccine uptake picture in this country much more complicated than it needs to be.

Consider, for example, what kind of message it sends about the effectiveness of vaccines. If, that is, you’re going to also mandate that fully vaccinated travelers who are either coming to or returning home to the US must ALSO present multiple negative COVID tests. And that they must also self-quarantine for seven days after they return. According to The Washington Post, all of that is where the administration seems to be leaning.

Controversial new international travel rules coming

Here’s a quick summary of what the administration is likely to unveil. As well as what might also be announced.

The Post dropped a bit of a bombshell report Tuesday night that suggested the Biden White House is about to pursue a number of changes in its overall COVID response. First and foremost, the plan is to shorten the window of time in which a traveler coming to the US, including a US citizen, can get a negative COVID result. Under the new framework? A traveler would have to obtain a COVID test and get a negative result just one day before they fly home.

The ability to get that done in 24 hours, as you might imagine, is not at all guaranteed for travelers. And it gets a whole lot more complicated from there.

For starters, that stricter COVID test rule also applies to vaccinated travelers. In short, everyone.

Raise your hand if remember CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky triumphantly declaring earlier this year that vaccinated people can finally ditch their masks, even around unvaccinated people? Because the vaccines are so good? And we wonder why people are ultimately tuning out all the maddening flip-flops, reversals, and conflicting messaging. Before any of you start harumphing about “following the science,” by the way, here’s another example of what I’m talking about.

Triple vaxxed + multiple COVID tests + 7-day quarantine?

Dr. Fauci just earlier this week said he didn’t think any new travel restrictions were imminent. Lo and behold, perhaps as soon as Wednesday, the administration is now reportedly leaning toward a mandate that triple-dosed Americans who present a negative COVID test should also quarantine themselves at home for seven days after coming back into the country.

What’s more, the newspaper spoke to anonymous public health experts who suggested that the administration is leaning toward such a draconian and dubious measure … simply to improve our COVID numbers at the margins. In other words, let’s just force everyone to stay at home. And hopefully, at least a few people will comply. And maybe we’ll catch some cases that way.

From The Post:

“Even if only a quarter of those travelers comply with the requirements, however, it would make a difference by allowing for more prompt detection and isolation of at least some infected people who might be able to spread the virus, said public health experts. “If you consider over 200,000 people a day (arriving in the United States), even 50,000 would help” determine the extent of spread, one of the three federal health officials said in a text message.”

New rules could come as soon as Wednesday

In other words, this is more along the lines of — sure, we’ll allow you to get on a plane for international travel. But we are going to throw every roadblock we can at you. In the hopes that you’ll just give up in frustration, solving our problem for us.

So, for those keeping score? Triple-vaccinated, plus multiple negative COVID tests, plus a week-long quarantine at home even when you don’t have the virus. Definitely sounds like a winning formula to convince the vaccine-hesitant.

This, from an administration that will soon have presided over more COVID deaths than were recorded under President Trump. Or, in other words, President Biden will soon reach the number that Trump did, which caused a then-candidate Biden to say the following:

“Anyone that is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.




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