CDC Currently Not Recommending Mandatory Testing for Domestic Travel

Passengers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently not recommending mandatory COVID-19 testing for domestic travel after the idea was tossed around by the agency and top officials in the Biden administration.

"At this time, CDC is not recommending required point of departure testing for domestic travel," the agency said in a statement provided to CNN on Friday. "As part of our close monitoring of the pandemic, in particular the continued spread of variants, we will continue to review public health options for containing and mitigating spread of COVID-19 in the travel space."

The decision comes days after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the idea was an "active conversation" and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky suggested screening passengers could be a useful tool, sparking backlash from airlines and travel groups.

On Friday, the heads of several major U.S. airlines — including American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue — met with White House officials to argue mandatory domestic testing would hurt an already ailing industry, The Associated Press reported.

"We had a very positive, constructive conversation focused on our shared commitment to science-based policies as we work together to end the pandemic, restore air travel and lead our nation toward recovery," Nick Calio, the head of the trade group Airlines for America, told the AP in a statement.

Testing is currently used to screen international travelers coming into the U.S. with all incoming passengers required to show proof of a negative viral test taken within three days of boarding a flight. All travelers — domestic and international — also have to wear masks on all forms of public transportation, including on planes, ships, trains, and in airports.

When it comes to interstate travel, however, testing and quarantine requirements still differ on a state-by-state basis.

Ultimately, the CDC is warning Americans to avoid travel.

"Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time," the agency wrote in guidance it updated earlier this month. "Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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