In an update on the agency’s website, anyone traveling within the United States may want to consider “getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible,” and no more than three days before a flight. It previously only recommended testing for people who have not received COVID-19 vaccines or up-to-date booster shots.
The CDC update is also recommending that people take a test before or after a trip if they went to crowded spaces “while not wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator.”
In April, a Florida federal judge struck down the CDC mandate that required people to wear masks inside airports or on airplanes. Justice Department officials have signaled they will challenge the rule, implemented after President Joe Biden took office in early 2021, in court.
A spokesperson for the agency told AFAR Magazine on May 19 that “COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe disease and death,” but added, “since vaccines are not 100 percent effective at preventing infection, some people who are up to date can still get COVID-19.”
“People who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines may feel well and not have symptoms but still can be infected and spread the virus to others,” the spokesperson said.
In January of this year, the CDC also implemented a change to its international travel rule, requiring plane passengers aged 2 and older to show a negative COVID-19 test from no more than a day before boarding a flight or proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the previous 90 days. Foreign nationals have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination as well.
Neither the CDC nor the White House has given any public indication of when the mandatory testing rule for international travelers will be relaxed. Travel groups have pushed for that rule to be removed for months now.
In a letter to the White House, a group representing more than 250 organizations called for an end to the rule, saying it’s only caused “slow economic recovery of the business and international travel sectors.”
After the federal judge’s order was handed down last month, the CDC issued a new recommendation that people inside airports and airplanes wear masks, despite nearly all major airliners having scrapped enforcement.
And during a news briefing last week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who has been criticized for her agency’s messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic, said that people living in counties that the agency deems to have high COVID-19 transmission should wear masks in indoor settings.