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Traveling in the U.S. soon? Get tested before your trip, CDC says.

The agency updated its coronavirus guidance ahead of the summer travel season

(Washington Post illustration; iStock)
3 min

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its coronavirus guidance for domestic travel, urging travelers to take a test close to departure regardless of vaccination status.

The agency said on its website that anyone traveling within the United States should think about “getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible,” no more than three days ahead of a trip. The agency previously only recommended testing before domestic travel for those not up to date on their coronavirus vaccinations.

The agency considers someone up to date if they have received all doses in their primary series and one booster shot once they are eligible.

E.U. drops mask mandates for air travel

The CDC also recommends travelers take a test after their trip if it “involved situations with greater risk of exposure such as being in crowded places while not wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator,” and that they follow any health guidance or rules in place at their destination.

“COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe disease and death,” CDC spokesperson Nick Spinelli said in an email. “However, since vaccines are not 100% 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.”

He added, “Traveling on public transportation increases a person’s risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by bringing people in close contact with others, often for prolonged periods.”

The changes come ahead of what is expected to be the busiest summer travel season since 2019. And there has recently been an uptick in coronavirus cases. Average daily coronavirus cases in the United States have risen 28 percent over the past week, according to tracking data compiled by The Washington Post, with an average of 30 daily new cases per 100,000 people as of Wednesday.

The CDC also has a preflight testing rule in place for international travel to the United States, requiring that air travelers 2 years and older show a negative coronavirus test result from no more than one day before boarding a flight, or proof of recovery from the disease in the previous 90 days. Foreign citizens must also show proof of vaccination.

CDC drops all countries from highest-risk category

Travel and business groups have pushed for the testing rule to be scrapped for months. Earlier this month, more than 250 organizations called for an end to the requirement for vaccinated travelers in a letter to White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha.

“Given the slow economic recovery of the business and international travel sectors, and in light of medical advancements and the improved public health metrics in the U.S., we encourage you to immediately remove the inbound testing requirement for vaccinated air travelers,” the letter read. Signees included the U.S. Travel Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and many airlines and hotel companies.

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