Changes to U.S. travel restrictions on foreign travelers could help stem a potential wave of infections that some public health officials worry could come this holiday season, according to one doctor.
Starting in November, all international travelers must be fully vaccinated and provide a negative Covid-19 test three days before boarding a U.S.-bound airplane.
The moves — plus enhanced contact tracing — are “a step in the right direction," Dr. Sara Andrabi, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, recently told Yahoo Finance Live. “The icing on top would be if they considered having a quarantine mandate."
Due to the lag time between testing and possible Covid-19 exposure, it’s “possible for travelers to get infected the day before they travel,” she noted, potentially making a negative test result incorrect.
Unvaccinated Americans traveling internationally will face stricter requirements under the new plan. They must provide a negative test within one day of returning to U.S. and also must test again after arriving. Currently, the CDC guidelines require a negative test within days of coming back to the U.S. for all Americans regardless if their vaccination status.
Dr. Andrabi hopes the new travel policies help keep the virus at bay and decrease hospitalizations — particularly among vulnerable populations like the immunocompromised and the elderly, which accounted for most of the hospitalizations. Lately, it’s unvaccinated individuals who are requiring hospitalization, she explained.
“My biggest concern is that unvaccinated people are increasing the chances for more COVID variants. The number of unvaccinated people in the United States is a key reason that the variants are emerging," she said. "The virus replicates quicker in unvaccinated people.”