To combat the spread of the new omicron COVID-19 variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are tightening testing requirements for international travelers.
Currently, air travelers to the United States who haven’t recently recovered from the virus – including U.S. citizens – must take a negative viral test before boarding their flight, with fully vaccinated travelers required to take it no more than three days before departure.
But the CDC said Tuesday that it is “working to modify” the global testing order to give all international air travelers just one day to take a pre-departure test, as first reported by The Washington Post.
“This strengthens already robust protocols in place for international travel,” the CDC said in a statement.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during an earlier Tuesday news conference that the CDC was “evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible,” which could mean shortening the pre-departure testing window or adding additional post-arrival testing and a self-quarantine period.
The agency says it continues to recommend all travelers get a COVID-19 viral test three to five days after arrival, and that any unvaccinated travelers should quarantine upon arrival.
The U.S. is also working to stem the spread of the virus with new travel bans against eight countries that went into effect Monday. The omicron variant has not yet been detected in the U.S.
Also in the news:
►226 omicron cases have been confirmed in at least 21 countries, including Britain, 11 European Union nations, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Canada and Israel.
►Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was placed in NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and could miss several games.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 48 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 780,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 262 million cases and 5.2 million deaths. Nearly 197 million Americans — roughly 59.4% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: Are travel bans worth it? They could slow the spread of omicron but they have repercussions, experts say.
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The omicron coronavirus variant could have a moderate impact on the U.S. economy next year as it hurts consumer spending and worsens labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks, intensifying already-high inflation, top economists say.
It’s too early to pinpoint how omicron will affect economic growth because scientists are just starting to assess the toll it could take on global health. But under one likely middle-ground scenario laid out by some top economists, the strain could be more infectious but not significantly more virulent than the delta variant. And it could lead to fewer government-imposed restrictions on businesses.
If that’s the case, omicron — or another similar variant — would cut economic growth next year by half a percentage point to 4.3% and lead to the creation of several hundred thousand fewer jobs, estimates Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.
That would be less than Moody’s projected growth of 5.5% this year — highest since the early 1980s — but still a historically strong figure as the nation continues to dig itself out of the pandemic-induced downturn.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 905 points, or 2.5%, on Friday, largely on worries over omicron, but it closed up 236 points Monday before sliding again in mid-morning trading Tuesday.
— Paul Davidson, USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press