Domestic Travelers Are Urged to Get COVID-19 Test Before Heading Out

Many Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 might not realize that they should test before embarking on domestic travel. Pharmacists might want to remind them that the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed guidance to recommend testing within three days before a trip, regardless of vaccination status. In some cases, such as for travelers who were in crowded places without masking, testing is urged again when they return home. Here is more information.

ATLANTA – With so many Americans heading out after Memorial Day, pharmacists might want to remind them that new public health guidance urges everyone to be tested for COVID-19 before domestic travel, even if they are fully vaccinated.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its coronavirus guidance for domestic travel. Travelers are encouraged to take a test close to departure, despite vaccination status.

Anyone traveling within the United States should consider “getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible,” and no more than three days ahead of a trip. Earlier guidance only recommended testing before domestic travel for those not up to date on their coronavirus vaccinations.

Some of the concern appears to be that the CDC is unable to enforce a previous order requiring masks on public transportation. In April, the CDC asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to appeal the April 18 court order from a federal judge in Florida that negated the CDC’s federal mask mandate for public transportation. The April 18 injunction was based on the determination that masks were not a form of sanitation and therefore outside of the CDC’s jurisdiction to regulate.

“As a result of a court order, effective immediately and as of April 18, 2022, CDC’s January 29, 2021, order requiring masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect,” according to an announcement on the agency’s website. “Therefore, CDC will not enforce the Order. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.”

In addition to being tested and wearing masks while using public transportation, travelers are urged to check the COVID-19 situation at their destination, including any restrictions.

While urging that everyone be up-to-date on vaccination, health officials also warn that those with a medical condition or who are taking medications that weaken their immune systems should be aware that they might have diminished protection and take extra precautions.

Testing is not required for those who recovered from confirmed COVID-19 in the past 90 days, but they should still follow all other travel recommendations, the CDC states.

Travelers who return from a trip that involved situations “with greater risk of exposure such as being in crowded places while not wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator,” should test again when they return home, according to the guidance.

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