CNN medical analysts expressed their dissatisfaction over the weekend with the measures being implemented by the Biden administration to fight potential winter spread of the coronavirus, arguing more stringent measures needed to be taken.
During separate appearances on the liberal network, Dr. Jonathan Reiner and Dr. Leana Wen each called for a domestic travel vaccine mandate to be implemented across the U.S., as well as a testing requirement; measures that go well beyond the restrictions President Biden announced last week.
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Biden announced Thursday that travelers on all international flights bound for the U.S. would be required to have a negative coronavirus test within 24 hours of their departure, regardless of vaccination status. The announcement followed a travel ban on eight African countries announced earlier last week, which included Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Eswatini, Lesotho, South Africa and Botswana.
“There is a lot that’s already in the Biden winter strategy … I think that the right components are there, but not to the degree that they can be,” Wen told CNN host Boris Sanchez on Saturday. “For example, with international travel, moving the 72 hours of … pre-departure testing to 24 hours is good, but why not also ask people to self-quarantine and then test once they arrive?”
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“When it comes to domestic travel, I do think that it’s really important to put into place a testing or vaccination requirement, meaning that everybody is required to be tested, but you can opt out of it if you are vaccinated,” she said. “And that’s because it’s not so much the travel itself that’s dangerous – actually if everybody is masked on planes or trains, it’s pretty safe, it’s more that if people are going between different regions, they could be carrying Covid-19 with them.”
Wen added that a testing or vaccination requirement would be key to reducing the spread of the coronavirus to different parts of the country.
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On Sunday, Reiner argued to CNN host Jim Acosta that a high level of daily coronavirus cases in the U.S. justified screening people for the virus within the country and not just for international travel.
“I love the idea of screening people who get on a plane to come to the U.S., but we should be able to incorporate that into our travel system here in the United States to prevent folks who are infected from going from, let’s say, parts of this country that have high viral threat to places maybe where there’s lower viral threat,” Reiner said. “One way to contain the virus is to test people the day of departure. And we have rapid tests that can do this. We just need the systems and the will to do it.”
He added that it was also a “mistake” for the Biden administration not to implement a vaccine mandate for travelers within the U.S.
“Vaccines are very popular in this country, 83% of adults have gotten at least one shot. So, by refusing to institute a travel vaccine mandate, basically the Biden administration is bowing to the 17% minority,” he said. “So, as I’ve been saying it’s basically the tail wagging the dog. We should have a travel vaccine requirement in the United States like our cousins in Canada have.”
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“It makes sense, not only to prevent transmission around this country, but another incentive for folks to get vaccinated,” Reiner said. “It’s going to take a strong measure to get these folks across the finish line. And maybe if they’re told they can’t fly without a vaccine, that will get some of them there. So I strongly favor that.”