The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued updated guidance for U.S. travel, now recommending that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, take a Covid-19 test within three days of departure.
All travelers should now “consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days) before your trip,” says the agency’s website. In addition, the CDC advises that people “get tested after travel if your trip involved situations with greater risk of exposure such as being in crowded places while not wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator.”
Previously, the CDC recommended testing before domestic travel only for travelers who were not “up to date” on their coronavirus vaccinations. The agency deems individuals up to date if they have received both doses of their primary series and at least one booster shot once they are eligible.
About three out of four (74.9%) Americans age 12 and over are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data, but only about half of Americans eligible for a booster shot have received one.
The recommendation change comes less than two weeks before Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff of the summer travel season. It also comes as the United States is reporting more than 200,000 new Covid-19 cases, a level not seen since February, and as health officials warn of a potential sixth wave of the infections, fueled by omicron subvariants.
At a White House briefing yesterday, CDC director Rochelle Walensky noted that while the country is seeing increasing numbers of infection and hospitalization in the Eastern Corridor and the upper Midwest, “different waves of infection have demonstrated that this travels across the country and has the potential to travel across the country.” She added that Americans should make use of all the available tools to keep infection rates under control, including getting vaccinated and boosted, and wearing masks when in areas with high infection rates.
Currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies 137 counties in the US in the high community level category and 456 counties at the medium risk.
“We would ask people to engage in all of the activities that they want to engage in, but to do so wisely,” said Walensky. “Do so when you’re up to date with your vaccines, when you’ve tested before you gather. And if you have a high risk of infection in your area, to put on that mask before you gather.”