Can you imagine anyone ever getting on a plane, especially to the United States, without going through a full background check? That’s not something that’s possible in today’s world, even if you are a green card holder (or have close family in the U.S.).

The issue of enhanced security screening of passengers flying to the United States from a majority of countries was first raised in the wake of the Brussels and Istanbul airport attacks. The Obama administration proposed a plan that would require passengers flying from countries with known “terrorist infiltration” to pass through an enhanced security screening. This policy has been called “racist and xenophobic”, and it was never implemented.

As flying is one of the more popular forms of transportation in the United States, it seems only natural that there would be a growing number of Americans who wish to visit the country but cannot do so. It is an interesting phenomenon to consider, and it’s one that I’ve been thinking about for some time. In some ways, the U.S. is now becoming a country of no-fly lists as more and more American citizens and visitors are being denied access to the country due to a litany of reasons.

The Requirement For A Negative Test To Fly To The U.S. Has Become A Farce

by Gary Leff on June 14, 2021

The U.S. government requires a negative Covid-19 for anyone – including citizens and residents – enter the country by air. This was a way to appear to be ‘doing something’ about the virus, but it hasn’t actually protected us against the virus. It might have made sense at the start of the pandemic but the CDC wasn’t prepared to implement measures to keep the virus out. Now, with widespread vaccination, it’s time to end this restriction.

The testing requirement is a joke, it does little to protect us, but it adds costs and uncertainty to travel and impinges on the fundamental right that citizens have to return to their country.

One reader shared their story of shopping for a negative test after several positives. All they needed was one (possibly false) positive to enter the country.

Another recent story is about what testing actually looks like at some resorts in Mexico. Hotels responded rapidly to provide testing to ensure that they’d continue to see a flow of American visitors. But it doesn’t mean the testing is providing any assurance.

At one property the test consisted of,

  • A momentary, gentle brush over the inside tip of the nose
  • Less than a three minute wait for results

There wasn’t likely much sample to collect, nor enough time to actually evaluate the sample if there had been. But it was enough to get a piece of paper that said negative. Much of it is theater at this point. And now that CDC has lowered the risk level for 110 countries it’s time to drop the theater, too.

  1. Testing doesn’t keep out people who are Covid-19 positive. The testing requirement applies only to entry into the U.S. by air. It doesn’t apply at other borders.
  2. Almost any test will do including three day old antigen tests from low quality providers all over the world. So why do we think this provides any kind of assurance?
  3. Doesn’t stop variants. Variants are already here. The Indian (Delta) variant entered the country even with this requirement in place. It’s now about 10% of cases nationally. And the virus mutates in similar ways around the world, anywhere the virus is prevalent we’ll see variants whether they enter from abroad or not.
  4. Anyone teen or adult who wants a vaccine can have one. So who are we protecting? Kids who can’t yet get vaccinated are generally at lower risk than vaccinated older Americans. Are we protecting people who have chosen not to get vaccinated? If we’re maintaining restrictions to protect the very small number of immunocompromised people who appear to produce limited antibodies to vaccines we should say so. Otherwise it’s just theater.
  5. Vaccinated people shouldn’t be tested prior to entry. The CDC exempts those who have recently recovered from the virus from its testing requirement, but not those who have been vaccinated.

The mRNA vaccines are incredibly effective against even asymptomatic infection (being a carrier), according to CDC data. And those who have been vaccinated and somehow do carry the virus aren’t very likely to spread it (for instance because of lower viral loads). That’s why the CDC lifted the mask guidance for vaccinated individuals. They should lift the testing requirement, too.

It’s time to lift the testing requirement, at a minimum for vaccinated U.S. residents.

More From View from the Wing

3 CommentsLast week, I was in a frenzy trying to figure out how to get an American visa to see my fiancée, who is American. Her father is a U.S. citizen, and my fiancée has applied for a visa extension. The problems started when I was told that her application had to be submitted with a negative test. There are several reasons that an applicant may be required to take a negative drug test. The most common is when the applicant is a professional athlete. In the case of my fiancée, this was the result of a random drug test in 2010, when she was a high school student.. Read more about do i need to get tested for covid-19 before i travel and let us know what you think.

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