News & Politics

Biden Tightens Travel Rules and Pushes Boosters in Winter Speech

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

During a speech at the National Institutes of Health Thursday afternoon, President Joe Biden announced something of a nine-pronged “winter campaign” to combat the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The president struck an urgent message for Americans to get COVID-19 booster shots by enhancing the availability of the third vaccine.

The new plan also includes a requirement for private health insurers to cover the entire cost of at-home COVID-19 tests.

Reacting just after the speech, however, Dr. Marty Makary was puzzled over how Biden “created artificial construct that we have insufficiently boosted population.”

“That’s not a problem. We aren’t under boosted,” the Johns Hopkins surgeon and professor explained on Fox News. “The chances of hospitalization for someone vaccinated but not boosted is 1 in 26,000.” Markary argued that the “villain” is not the unboosted.

The administration also unveiled steps to increase vaccination rates among children in an effort to stop anti-science teachers’ unions from closing school doors again in January.

Makary believes the push to vaccinate children, especially in order to return to school after Christmas vacation, is a “manufactured problem,” adding that there would be no media coverage for a new strain of influenza, which has a similar case fatality rate in kids.

But as some nations succumb to fear and misinformation and close their borders or reimpose lockdowns — even though new evidence shows omicron probably is not new or dangerous, especially in Europe — the United States is not (yet) moving to impose additional restrictions beyond a banal recommendation to wear masks indoors in public settings. The administration also formally announced its plan to extend a mask requirement for domestic travel through March.

Related: Omicron Panic and Overreactions

Perhaps more notably, the Biden administration is tightening international travel rules by requiring all air travelers into the U.S. to be tested within 24 hours of their departure, regardless of vaccination status. Currently, vaccinated travelers must get tested within three days of boarding flights to the U.S.

“I’m announcing today that all inbound international travelers must test within one day of departure, regardless of their vaccination status or nationality,” Biden said. “And we are extending the requirement, both internationally and domestically, to wear masks for travel on aircraft, trains, public transportation through the winter months.”

The U.S. last week imposed travel restrictions that bar arrivals of foreign nationals who visited any of eight southern African nations during the past two weeks. The administration has not said how long those measures will be in place.

That policy even received condemnation from the United Nations Secretary-General.

In addition, reports show Team Biden is debating a controversial proposal to require all travelers, including Americans, to quarantine for seven days, even if the test results are negative and they’re fully vaccinated. Those who do not could face fines.

Wednesday night on Fox News, Guy Benson called this idea a trial balloon and said he’s “shocked anew.”

“It feels like we are going backwards,” Townhall’s editor said. “We are in a post-vaccine era right now. It doesn’t feel that way, and there’s not a good reason why. There’s incoherence.”