President’s Team Ditches Idea Of Covid-19 Testing For Domestic Flights

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The presidential team’s idea to test the Covid-19 for domestic flights.

Gary Leff on February 12, 2021.

Two weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came up with the idea of requiring a negative Covid-19 test for domestic flights. Since then, the airline industry has taken the controversy to the next level.

It turns out to be a bad idea, but not for the reasons most people think.

  • There is real concern about the spread of variants of the virus (mainly mutations in the advanced protein) that could allow more rapid spread and, in some cases, reinfection of people who have already taken Covid-19, as well as reduce the effectiveness of vaccines. But these variants are already spreading well in the United States. And we do so little genomic surveillance that there probably has been more in the United States. As long as the virus continues to spread in the United States, restrictions on domestic travel will make little sense.
  • Restrictions on flights, but not on driving or other forms of transportation, will not help. In fact, imposing flight restrictions would encourage the use of less safe modes of transportation, which would cost lives.

Although the CDC insisted on it, it never took the time to seriously discuss implementation with the airlines. The airlines still oppose it and this week presented their arguments to the White House measures coordinator, Covid-19.

Carriers argue that the additional 700,000 tests per day is a bandwidth that the country does not have, and that it would divert testing from more serious risks. The truth is that the FDA could approve cheap paper test strips and make it possible for people to get tested daily for what Sally Struthers asked for in the evening commercial. For a cup of Starbucks coffee, you get a pretty good guarantee that you are not contagious. ….

People pretend to test negative, even if they don’t have the virus themselves, because it’s too inconvenient and too expensive to get tested. This is the problem we need to address: we need to make testing cheap and easy to do at home. The technology exists, but without it the airlines would be right, the approach would be stupid.

Fortunately, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that there is no question of imposing mandatory testing on domestic flights.

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