- A new CDC rule will require passengers flying into the US to provide documentation of a negative COVID test before boarding.
- The new measure goes into effect on January 26 and was created in response to the emergence of more contagious COVID strains.
- The CDC believes a COVID mutation from the UK could become the dominant strain in the US within the next two months.
With the coronavirus still surging across all corners of the US, the CDC this week announced a new precautionary measure that some people believe should have been implemented months ago. The new measure, which is expected to go into effect on January 26, will require all air travelers entering the US to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of their flight.
The new rule was partially fueled by the discovery of new coronavirus strains in countries like the UK, South Africa, and Japan. While health experts believe that current COVID vaccines are just as effective against the new strains, the mutations are worrisome because they’re believed to be much more contagious than the original. It’s worth noting that the new mutations aren’t more deadly.
“Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, and there is evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants,” the CDC explained in a press release. “With the US already in surge status, the testing requirement for air passengers will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to vaccinate the American public.”
Airlines will be tasked with verifying a passenger’s negative test result before the boarding process. Any individual who refuses to take a test or provide the requisite test results will not be allowed on the plane.
In addition to a COVID test before departing for the US, the CDC is advising travelers to get tested again within a week of their arrival and to quarantine at home as well.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said.
The CDC’s new rule may seem extreme, but the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in the US calls for extreme measures. Over the last two weeks alone, coronavirus cases and deaths have jumped by 27% and 39%, respectively. Earlier this week, a record-breaking 4,406 Americans died from COVID during a 24-hour window.
Compounding matters is that COVID-related hospitalizations are surging and, in turn, are straining resources at ICUs across the country. The situation in California is especially grim, with the Los Angeles Times reporting that one hospital ICU in L.A. County is “operating at triple its capacity.”