Domestic travel vaccine mandate back in the spotlight

The debate over requiring COVID-19 vaccines for domestic travel is back in the spotlight this week, despite setbacks from business and the potential for strong setbacks if the Biden administration imposes a mandate.

The White House said a potential mandate is not off the table, and the rise in COVID-19 cases caused by the highly transferable omicron variant has raised questions about whether a claim is another way to keep Americans safe.

President BidenJoe BidenBiden, Lawmakers Grieve over Harry Reid 29 Percent of GOP’s Support Efforts to Accuse Accused 6 January Rioters: Poll Congress Must Meet at the Moment to Hold Big Pharma Responsible MOREChief Medical Adviser, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care – CDC under fire for new guidance CDC comes under fire for new COVID-19 guidance. Biden says that if the medical team advises it, he will issue requirements for domestic travel vaccine MORE, said Wednesday that the administration is discussing a mandate, but pointed to the security of the mesh requirement in place for all U.S. transportation networks.

“When it comes to domestic flights, you want to keep people safe on domestic flights. And as I said, right now we feel that the masking requirement and the degree of filtering on an aircraft is sufficient to keep people safe,” Fauci told journalists during a White House briefing COVID-19 response team. “If there is a need to do more beyond this masking, mainly with a vaccine problem, we will seriously consider it as new information emerges.”

Fauci said any intervention that can keep Americans safe is on the table and is being discussed.

“So it’s just having an open mind that the situation can change. But at this particular time, we do not feel the need to make it a requirement for domestic flights,” he said.

Biden said he would impose a mandate if his medical team recommended one on Tuesday, talking to reporters while on a trip to Rehoboth Beach, Del.

His comments largely reflected remarks he made last month that he would wait for a message from the scientific community on the issue.

Airlines and other business groups are against a vaccine and test requirement for domestic flights.

Delta Air Lines on Wednesday reiterated their position that airline health protection enables safe travel, pointing to hospital-quality filtration systems and masks on board aircraft and inside airports.

“We also know that air travel is safer than doing most of the things you do on a daily basis, such as groceries,” a Delta spokesman told The Hill. “At Delta, we transport millions of people a week domestically, and it would be a bottleneck for the system to require vaccines for domestic travel.”

Airlines handled many workers who reported sick during the Christmas holidays, causing major flight cancellations. Nearly 1,300 flights were canceled on Tuesday, bringing the global number of canceled flights since Christmas Eve to more than 10,000.

Despite the growing number of cases in the United States, the Transportation Security Administration reported that more than 2 million travelers were screened at checkpoints on Tuesday.

The American Travel Association, when asked if domestic travel vaccines are back in the spotlight, pointed to the latest data that Americans who travel again are among the most vaccinated.

U.S. travelers – those who have taken at least one trip of 50 miles or more from home in the past two years – have a higher vaccination rate, at 80 percent, than the general U.S. population, according to data released Dec. 13 by market research firm Destination Analysts.

The American Travel Association claims that a mandate will put pressure on workers in the travel industry, create problems at airports and harm families with children who are too young to get the vaccine.

The carrot-and-stick plan under consideration will put undue pressure on the back of the travel industry and its frontline staff, create a logistical dilemma at airports and have an unfair and negative impact on families with young children who have not yet is eligible for the vaccine, ”said Tori Emerson Barnes, the group’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy.

Airlines for America, which represents the major U.S. airlines, said they have “concerns about the implementation and enforcement of such a policy” and that they have been informed by the administration that there are no imminent policy proposals.

Vaccine mandates are already in place for international visitors to the United States

All non-essential foreign visitors entering the land and airways must be fully vaccinated, a policy that began on November 8, and all important foreign travelers to the United States must be fully vaccinated by January 22.

Fauci said Wednesday that there is a difference between requiring a vaccine to enter the United States and requiring one to travel within the United States.

“The difference between requiring a vaccination before boarding a plane to get from abroad to the United States is for the obvious reason of keeping infection, especially new varieties, out of the country,” he said.

Fauci made headlines on Sunday when he said “anything that could get people vaccinated more would be welcome” when asked about his thoughts on a domestic travel mandate.

He has since tried to clean up his remarks. On Monday, he said that just because an idea is on the table does not mean the administration will impose it.

“Anything that comes up as an option, we put it on the table and we’re considering it, that does not mean it’s likely to happen,” Fauci told CNN’s jim acostaJames (Jim) AcostaCDC comes under fire for new COVID-19 guidance. Biden says that if the medical team advises it, he will issue requirements for domestic travel vaccine. Fauci says the CDC reduces isolation time so people get back to work faster MORE. “I doubt we’ll see anything like that in the foreseeable future.”

The administration is facing pressure to impose a mandate from Democrats on Capitol Hill, though Republicans would likely criticize a mandate based on the party’s criticism of Biden’s vaccine or test mandate for companies with 100 or more employees.

Thirty-six members in November signed a letter to Biden, which was led by Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinBiden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid Five areas where Biden faces pressure to do more on COVID-19 Pelosi faces setbacks over stock trading defense MORE (D-Calif.) And reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) And Ritchie Torres (DN.Y.), who urge the administration to require proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for air passengers.

“The administration has taken important steps to strengthen our pandemic response in the light of the winter wave and the Omicron variant, and I strongly urge further action in the form of a requirement for domestic air passengers to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test before boarding their flight, “Beyer told The Hill on Wednesday.

“No one who has COVID should get on a plane, especially with already elevated cases,” he added.

Updated at 16:52

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