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Returning to USA

I noticed that the revised guidelines /(effective Nov. 8) for re-entry to the USA do not eliminate the need for fully vaccinated people to have to get a COVID test 72 hours before departure. Am I reading that wrong? Can someone please explain why that testing requirement would still be in place for a fully vaccinated US citizen?

Posted by
7599 posts

Can someone please explain why that testing requirement would still be in place for a fully vaccinated US citizen?

No, there is no rational 'explanation', just (political?) optics.

Posted by
9993 posts

They want to make sure new variants aren't brought back. A new one has been discovered in the UK.

Posted by
675 posts

Reentry testing benefits the individual as well as the homeland. In addition to detecting new variants, 72-hour tests help find those unfortunates who have ended up sick (unlikely but possible breakthrough infection) or become unaware asymptomatic carriers, perhaps by deliberately ignoring safe practices or from unavoidable exposure. What about people who are traveling with counterfeit vax documents? The scientific and social rationalizations for reentry testing policy are totally appropriate. The opinions about and reactions to such important policies may be another issue. This discussion can quickly descend into political squabbling.

Posted by
5360 posts

There are still breakthrough cases, and likely unknown to the infected (few symptoms, probably confused with just the stress of traveling), and unvaccinated, or immunosuppressed people can be infected by these breakthrough cases.

Since you have a point of control, a flight, why not use it to add another filter to keep infections out.

If vaccination rates do finally get to a point of ~90%, then it would not be effective for the effort, but some places are a long way from there.

Posted by
6056 posts

I think it is pretty old and established news that people who are vaccinated can still be infected and transmit the virus (ask Colin Powell). Especially since Delta. The purpose of public health measures is to reduce the spread of disease, not make it easier. Politics would lean the other way, to make voters happy. So far, the virus has not regarded citizenship as a pass.

Posted by
1886 posts

Absolutely NOTHING political about it, Joe (first response above). As other posters have said, one can "get" covid despite being fully vaccinated (called a break through case). Read the article from The New York Times below about the couple who were not only were vaccinated, but also apparently retrospectively realized they likely had a degree of covid while traveling and were surprised, later realizing how they could have been "spreading" the virus in their travels.

While precautions are taken on planes, there is still risk (especially during meal times when most have masks off to eat) of transmitting the virus. And, as also previously mentioned, there is a new variant (again) and there is a good chance there may be more in the future.

A pre-return test is just part of the "process" of safety that is part of the tradeoff for traveling now.

"If only" it had been known about covid before it spread around the world, and testing "could have been done" in its infancy...........well, we all know how that could have turned out to be a much better circumstance. Be thankful for the tests we have now, and the vaccines, and the precautions.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/18/travel/blindsided-abroad-vaccinated-but-testing-positive-on-a-trip-to-europe.html

Posted by
6570 posts

We came back into Atlanta from Amsterdam 10/11/2021, and we had been Covid tested in Berlin the day before.

Not a single person asked to see our test results--or even asked about it.

Posted by
12400 posts

We can be glad that being tested upon returning to the US is a requirement regardless of one's vaxxed status.

Posted by
12343 posts

David—-do you meant no one in Atlanta asked? Or no one at Amsterdam airport asked before you boarded the plane?

Posted by
4857 posts

Three out of four people that I know have tested positive in the last few weeks are double vaccinated and one has been in intensive care for several days in hospital. That’s why you need to be tested. Goodness knows what you could be taking back home or spreading.

Posted by
2775 posts

@ Lola, I'll be interested to see David's answer. I flew from Paris to San Francisco last month and no one looked at my test results anywhere -- not at CDG and not at SFO. While I was waiting at CDG to board the plane an Air France employee did ask me if I had taken a test and I said yes but she did not ask for it or ask about the results.

Posted by
317 posts

I am an immunocompromised person. I had two doses of Moderna in March (beg and end). Neither I nor my live-in partner are working, mostly due to the pandemic (me, and he has asthma, and we are both very very active in outdoor pursuits. He was wary of losing the ability to due what he wants in the backcountry at high elevation with covid, since everyone reacts differently to an infection.) We only go grocery shopping once every week or ten days, have avoided indoor restaurants unless absolutely unavoidable (rare) and wear masks in indoor spaces and have even after vaxxes.

In mid-august, he was on a high route in the Wind Rivers that I could not accompany due to my 83 yo mother (also immunocompromised and on a biologic drug like myself) hospitalized with an infection. My 91 yo father was the only allowed visitor, until the very end when my sister and I were allowed to come to learn how to push IV abx so she could come home. (Incidentally, 13 years ago I suffered a similar infection while on the same drug, Remicade and needed 126 days of IV abx 3x daily.) We were at the hospital for an hour. I had not seen anyone else, seriously (I take my alone time very seriously, lol) and we were all vaxed with Moderna.

5 days later, after going out to my parents 1x daily to push my mom's abx, I came down with a sore throat. My partner had just returned home the day before- he had been around no other human beings for over 10 days. Next morning, I felt kind of crappy. My daughter had come picked me up after my regular morning run and we drove out to a trail to walk her dog. I tested later that morning as it was getting worse and positive. No one around me tested positive for the next week (partner and kids tested same day and again 5 days later and again 5 days after that.) My sister did not test positive either. My dad did not test, but he was very fatigued the Monday before I tested positive (5 days) and we just figured it was the hub bub of my mom being in the hospital for several days. We now think he had asymptomatic covid.

Luckily, it was 21 days before we went to France. I was very grateful to have the testing/vax requirement both to fly, and to return home. I think, for us, it helped us be more wary of the potential risks on our trip, even as careful as we always had been, knowing that he must present a negative test (I only had to have a letter from my physician stating I had had covid and was cleared for travel now)
My rheumatologist thinks my disease and the drug(s) I take prevented full response to the vax. Ironically, I was scheduled to get my third shot the day after I tested positive. It still wasn't a very 'mild' case, it took me 14 days to start to feel better; I was grateful to have been vaccinated or I suspect it may have been worse. As it is, combined with the immunosuppressing drugs I'm on, it still caused residual issues that I had to seek treatment for in France, although they were not dangerous, just mildly annoying. At least my physician had prepared me for the possibility.

Until the vax rate is at least 90%, there will continue to be cases, and likely still after but hopefully much fewer. Testing is not only prudent imho, but very much necessary. We think my dad must've gotten at the hospital, just out of sheer exposure. We were not asked for our negative tests upon return IN the US, but before we could board the plane, we were definitely asked. So I wonder if that is taken into account.

Posted by
317 posts

@ Lola, I'll be interested to see David's answer. I flew from Paris to San Francisco last month and no one looked at my test results anywhere -- not at CDG and not at SFO. While I was waiting at CDG to board the plane an Air France employee did ask me if I had taken a test and I said yes but she did not ask for it or ask about the results.

That is interesting. We had to show ours twice at CDG- we flew Lufthansa.

Posted by
7683 posts

We flew to the US from France in February and had to show our negative test at check in. Since the borders were nearly closed, we also had to show our negative test and US address to the passport control to obtain permission to leave.

Posted by
2632 posts

Back in early September, I had to show my negative test to the Delta agent at Frankfurt. It was not checked in Atlanta. I did Global Entry -- not sure if that makes a difference.

Posted by
317 posts

We did too Dave, and no one checked our tests upon arrival in Seattle, either. Just at CDG and Frankfurt.

Posted by
348 posts

Thanks everyone for all of your responses. I guess what confuses me is why did I not have to take a test to enter some European countries but to return to the USA you need to take a test. With a trip to Germany coming up next month I was really hoping these new guidelines taking effect on Nov. 8th would eliminate that testing requirement. I guess it is a judgement call between USA and Germany (and other countries not requiring a test to enter). I am a logical person so this is just a flawed logic that doesn't make sense to me. Not sure who is right or wrong but just found it odd. Thanks again to all for trying to explain.

Posted by
12343 posts

I do not see the “flawed logic” here. Do you not have to get tested before boarding a plane to Europe? So why not upon return?

If Germany will allow you to enter because you are vaccinated, without a negative covid test, then I would say the flawed logic is theirs, not the US. It is undisputed that fully vaccinated people can carry and transmit the virus, albeit at a somewhat lower contagion rathe than the unvaccinated. But the asymptomatic people are a problem. If some Europeans countries do not require testing before entry, that has nothing to do with the US and our standards. Testing is an important part of the scheme to beat this virus, as it is the best way to prevent the spread. As many have explained above, vaccination can prevent serious illness, but it does not prevent people from becoming infected (asymptomatic) ) and spreading the virus. I personally know, or know of< more than 10 people whe are fully vaccinated but tested positive after travel or visiting friends or family. Fortunately, none became seriously ill.

So while vaccination can make it relatively safe for us to travel, it does not mean that we cannot pick up and spread the virus. If you have to get tested to prove you are not carrying the virus before you come home to the US, you have no basis for complaint, in my opinion. Particularly now, when there are new variants appearing.

Posted by
6663 posts

Do you not have to get tested before boarding a plane to Europe?

No.

At least not for France, not if you have proof of vaccination. And not for Norway, if you have a digital EU Covid certificate (proof of vaccination). Not for many other European countries, although I have specifically cited only the two whose rules I know for sure.

Therein lies the contradiction. I admit for months I thought the U.S. was going for overkill, but now I am grateful that they do require a test— I wish that France would go back to requiring a test for entry too.

Posted by
12538 posts

Kim, not for France and a lot of other countries.

I happen to believe the rule is a bit of overkill, but if it makes others sleep better, fine. At least they made it easy making the antigen test and 3 days instead of 72 hours. No biggie to comply. Everyone just needs to smile, lift a nostril and worry about the rest of the trip.

Posted by
7683 posts

Yes, you are correct that it's a contradiction, and like Kim, I sorry so many European countries dropped the test requirement. The US doesn't have adequate documentation of vaccination status, especially when some people brag that fake CDC cards are easy to obtain.
Therein lies yet another contradiction: the US has a low level of fully vaccinated relative to Western Europe, but requires a test from its vaccinated citizens, and soon non-citizens, returning from a continent with a lower level of disease.
But that's the way it goes. The pandemic has been an exercise in learning, adapting, exposing good and bad, and we just go with the flow and don't search too hard for logic.

Posted by
4763 posts

James E makes a helpful point here -- the timeframe is three days, not 72 hours. Here are the details from CDC. For example, for a flight leaving Germany on Saturday, a test would be accepted if the sample was taken on Wednesday or later. Time of day doesn't matter. See the FAQs on the linked website. In my case, Lufthansa wanted to see the test report (test was taken Thursday) when I checked into the Saturday flight from Berlin to Frankfurt, and they issued me boarding passes for that flight and the next one from Frankfurt to Seattle. No one asked about it when I landed in Seattle.

As for the "logic," every country makes its own rules, in response to its own situation and using its own procedures. You can call that "politics" or you can call that an inevitable characteristic of today's world of nation-states. And, as others have pointed out, vaccination isn't a 100% guarantee that one can't be infected or transmit the virus, it just improves the odds greatly. I got tested before going to Germany, not because the Germans required it, but because I didn't want to get sick or spread the virus over there.

Posted by
2871 posts

I think Aimee & others have brought up some valid points. In Aimee’s case it only reinforces that any of us are vulnerable, especially those who are immunocompromised. With as many as 7 million Americans who fit in this category it makes sense that their is a standard of practice to follow for safe travel. The following article was written about 2 months ago, and I thought it was informative. Grateful that many of us have already had the opportunity to receive boosters.
Edited https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/08/12/immunocompromised-coronavirus-booster-what-to-know/

Posted by
5078 posts

We’re flying home from Italy tomorrow (yeah, I know, sooner than Nov. 8), and did our online proctored self-tests tonight. Those are the rules, if you want to fly. And we’ll have masks on in the airports and during the flight, uncomfortable and inconvenient they may be for hour after hour.

Getting to travel by air is worth the regulations. Maybe those regulations will be lessened some time in the future, but for now, those are the rules.

Posted by
921 posts

If I never again had to claim/re-drop off my checked baggage (thereby triggering another trip through security) upon reentering the US, I'd let them stick 4 swabs up my nose...