On January 12, 2021, 4,406 people in the United States died of COVID-19, and more than 230,000 people tested positive for the first time. At this rate, we will see more people dead of this plague than the entire casualty count of the Civil War by March 7 of 2021. And probably sooner, as rates are currently in yet another spike and, more frightening, more infectious strains are popping up everywhere.
In another move towards lowering that count, the United States has implemented another new restriction: soon, travelers entering the country by air from any other country will be required to prove that they recently tested negative for COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control announced the new measure on January 13, 2021. It requires documented proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of one’s arrival by air in the U.S.
“Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield in a news release.
Several months ago, Hawaii implemented this measure, letting arriving travelers choose between a negative COVID-19 test and a two-week quarantine at their own expense on arrival. In December, the CDC required tests on travelers from the UK to the U.S., so this restriction has been coming for some time.
International flights have been the hardest hit of a hard-hit industry. Comparing December 2020 to December 2019, international arrivals by air to U.S. airports were down over 75 percent, with non-citizen arrivals down 83 percent. Some of this is due to travel restrictions both domestic and abroad, but most of it is still due to fear.
The new measure goes into effect on January 26, 2021.