The U.S. government’s new policy of requiring pre-flight COVID-19 testing for all travelers from China will likely have limited impact on transmission and will not provide the necessary data to fully assess the increasing number of cases globally. In addition, the policy could unintentionally fuel anti-Asian bias and xenophobia.
To improve surveillance and obtain more useful data, the Administration should consider expanding broader testing strategies that are not defined by a narrow geographic scope. However, testing alone is unlikely to prevent transmission of the virus in the United States.
As COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses continue to affect our communities and strain hospitals this winter, it is critical that we continue to protect ourselves and others by practicing basic public health precautions: stay home when ill, get all recommended vaccinations and boosters, and mask when appropriate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Biden Administration and governors across the country should also be prepared to strengthen mitigation measures as necessary if the situation continues to worsen. In addition, it is critical that the Biden Administration continue its efforts to improve our diplomatic communications with China to ensure transparency regarding COVID-19 infection data.
Carlos del Rio, MD, FIDSA – President, Infectious Diseases Society of America
Deborah S. Yokoe, MD, MPH – President, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
The Infectious Diseases Society of America is a community of more than 12,000 physicians, scientists and public health experts who specialize in infectious diseases. Its purpose is to improve the health of individuals, communities and society by promoting excellence in patient care, education, research, public health and prevention relating to infectious diseases. Learn more at idsociety.org.
The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America is a professional society representing more than 2,000 physicians and other health care professionals around the world who possess expertise and passion for health care epidemiology, infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship. The society’s work improves public health by establishing infection-prevention measures and supporting antibiotic stewardship among health care providers, hospitals and health systems. This is accomplished by leading research studies, translating research into clinical practice, developing evidence-based policies, optimizing antibiotic stewardship and advancing the field of health care epidemiology. Visit SHEA online at shea-online.org.
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