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Is the CDC About to Mandate COVID Tests for Domestic Flights?

A negative COVID-19 test is now required for international flights into the U.S., but are domestic flights next? In an interview with Axios on HBO, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that there is currently an “active conversation” between the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on requiring coronavirus testing for domestic flights, that is being guided “by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out.”

Additionally, Dr. Marty Cetron, director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the CDC, told reporters that there are currently “conversations that are ongoing and looking at what the types and locations of testing might be” and that the agency is “actively looking” at domestic travel testing requirements.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal has been met with dismay from the airline industry. Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Stan Deal and Chief Aerospace Safety Officer Michael Delaney wrote a letter imploring, “Imposing such a burden on the already financially beleaguered airline industry has the potential for severe unintended consequences that will ripple across the entire economy.”

Delta CEO Ed Bastian agreed, saying in an interview that the requirement would be a “horrible idea for many reasons” arguing that it could set the travel industry’s recovery back by at least another year as well as put a strain on COVID-19 testing resources.

The CDC is considering all available measures to attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus, especially now that the faster-spreading U.K. strain of the virus grows in the U.S. Requiring testing before all flights, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, could help decrease the spread by detecting more asymptomatic cases.

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