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COVID-19 testing requirement lifted for international air travelers to US

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A senior Biden administration official announced the administration has lifted its COVID-19 testing requirement for international travelers to the United States. The requirement was one of the last remaining government mandates designed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“The whole industry has been waiting for this announcement,” Martin Ferguson, a spokesman for Global Business Travel Group Inc., said.

On Twitter, Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro (D-NV) added, “I’m glad CDC suspended the burdensome coronavirus testing requirement for international travelers.”

Currently, international travelers are required to test negative for COVID-19 within a day before boarding a flight to the U.S. The administration official said this requirement will officially be lifted at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

The lifting of the testing requirement for international travelers could be the first in a series of major changes regarding how the U.S. fights COVID-19 in upcoming weeks. Another potential policy change deals with vaccines for kids under 5 years old.

Next Wednesday, an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration will review vaccine candidates from Pfizer and Moderna. If the panel endorses one or both shots for them — and the FDA agrees — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must recommend whether all kids under 5 need immunization or just those at high risk from the virus.

“If the FDA and CDC recommend these vaccines, this would mark an important moment in the pandemic,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said Thursday. “It would mean that for the first time, essentially every American from our oldest to our youngest, would be eligible for the protection that vaccines provide.”

According to Jha, the White House is planning to begin vaccinations for kids under 5 on June 21. The White House has ordered millions of doses for young children in preparation.

“We do have 10 million available across both vaccines, and we’re not in a position to prejudge what the FDA and CDC are going to decide,” HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell said Thursday. “Should we end up with only one vaccine authorized, which we’re not anticipating, or prejudging whether that might happen, we will adjust supply accordingly.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Shannon Longworth: Your international travels are about to get easier this summer.
The COIVD testing requirement for air travelers entering the U-S is being lifted.
The Biden administration announced the change today.
It takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
Currently — international travelers are required to get tested for COVID-19 within a day of boarding their flights.
Just days after that’s set to happen — federal health officials are set to take the next step toward potential approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5.
An advisory panel to the F-D-A is set to take a look at candidates from both Pfizer and Moderna next Wednesday.
If the F-D-A approves one or both of the candidates — the C-D-C will have to decide whether all children should get the vaccine — or just those at risk to catch the virus.
Dr. Nimmi Rajagopal | Cook County Health: “I don’t know that it’s going to change that much in the uptake in that age range. I think there will be a slight bump because there are some people that are pretty consistent right, like the parents got Moderna, so that’s what they’d like their kids to get because they know how they responded to it.”
Shannon Longworth: If the vaccines are approved — they could become available by the following week.
White House officials say they have ordered millions of doses as they anticipate the approval.
Ashish Jha | White House COVID-19 response coordinator: “If the FDA and CDC recommend these vaccines, this would mark an important moment in the pandemic. It would mean that for the first time, essentially every American from our oldest to our youngest, would be eligible for the protection that vaccines provide.”