White House press secretary Jen Psaki disclosed yesterday that the Biden administration is looking at the possibility of requiring a proof of vaccination for domestic travel “if the health impact is overwhelming.” Psaki’s comments came amid concerns over rising cases in COVID-19 infections.
Psaki told MSNBC’s “Way Too Early,” host Jonathan Lemire that Americans are about to travel “in what could be record numbers for the holidays.”
“So why isn’t a vaccination requirement for domestic travel part of the president’s plan during this COVID surge?” Lemire countered.
“That’s a good question, Jonathan. I think it’s one we get asked pretty frequently. “It’s because we know that masking can be — is very effective on airplanes. That’s a restriction that we’ve also increased the fines on so we know that people are wearing masks, more people are wearing masks,” Psaki retorted.
“And we would do it, though, if the health impact was overwhelming. So we rely always on the advice of our health and medical experts. That isn’t a step at this point that they have determined we need to take,” she added
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises Americans not to travel within the US until they have been fully vaccinated. Travelers who have not been fully vaccinated are advised by the CDC to have their vaccinations tested before and during travel.
President Biden declared earlier this month that all travelers from international destinations to the US must test negative for COVID-19 in the first 24 hours of landing. This applies regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not. The acceptable window for a negative result has been reduced from 72 hours to 24 hours.
Psaki’s Wednesday remarks go beyond her past comments on domestic travel vaccinations.
Last month, Psaki stated that the administration was considering the advice of health and medical experts, hinting at a possibility that nothing was “off the table” yet.
“What we saw with the Delta variant is that once it was already here, it spread rapidly across the country. So why not have any testing or vaccination requirements whatsoever for domestic air travel since people are, you know, going fairly openly across the country?” a reporter stated during a White House press briefing.
“Well, what I think you heard the president say, I think — it was hard to hear the questions, so I think this was a question that was asked, but — was that he wasn’t taking any options off the table, but he’s going to rely on the advice of his health and medical experts. So, I would really point you to them,” she added.