[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 115 (Wednesday, June 15, 2022)]

[Notices]

[Pages 36129-36131]

From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[FR Doc No: 2022-13022]

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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Rescinding Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test

Result or Documentation of Recovery From COVID-19 for All Airline or

Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving Into the United States From Any

Foreign Country

AGENCY: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of

Health and Human Services (HHS).

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), located

within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is hereby

rescinding the Order titled,

[[Page 36130]]

``Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test Result or

Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for All Airline or Other

Aircraft Passengers Arriving Into the United States From Any Foreign

Country.'' As subsequently amended, the Order required all air

passengers, two years or older, traveling to the United States from a

foreign country to present a negative COVID-19 test result from a

sample taken no more than one day before departure, or documentation of

recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before boarding a flight.

DATES: This rescission was implemented June 12, 2022.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Candice Swartwood, Division of Global

Migration and Quarantine, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic

Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600

Clifton Road NE, MS H16-4, Atlanta, GA 30329; Telephone: 404-498-1600;

Email: dgmqpolicyoffice@cdc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The Order was one of several actions taken by the Federal

government during earlier phases of the COVID-19 pandemic to help

mitigate the further transmission and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants

into and within the United States. Since then, many circumstances have

changed, including the widespread uptake of effective COVID-19 vaccines

and accompanying vaccine- and infection-induced immunity, as well as

the availability of effective therapeutics, and CDC remains focused on

preventing medically significant disease, hospitalizations, and deaths

from COVID-19. Accordingly, CDC has determined that it is not currently

necessary to leave the Order in place to prevent introduction of

currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants into the United States.

CDC continues to recommend that all travelers remain up to date

with vaccination against COVID-19 and get tested for current infection

with a viral test before and after they travel, and after any known

exposure to a person with COVID-19, so they can take appropriate

precautions to reduce the risk of exposing others while infectious.

Furthermore, CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in

indoor public transportation settings.

Applicability of the Paperwork Reduction Act

In accordance with this Rescission Order, the Passenger Disclosure

and Attestation form (OMB Control No. 0920-1318) has been amended to

remove the testing requirement. CDC will publish a separate notice

regarding this change under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Referenced Order

A copy of the Order is provided below, and a copy of the signed

Order can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/rescission-global-testing-order-p.pdf.pdf.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Department of Health and

Human Services

Order Under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C.

264) and 42 Code of Federal Regulations 71.20, 71.31(B)

Rescinding Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure Covid-19 Test Result

or Documentation of Recovery From Covid-19 for All Airline or Other

Aircraft Passengers Arriving Into the United States From Any Foreign

Country

Summary and Action

On January 26, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC), located within the Department of Health and Human Services

(HHS), issued an Order titled, ``Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure

COVID-19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for All

Airline or Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving Into the United States

From Any Foreign Country.'' 86 FR 7387 (Jan. 28, 2021). As subsequently

amended, the Order currently requires all air passengers, 2 years or

older, traveling to the United States from a foreign country to present

a negative COVID-19 test result from a sample taken no more than one

day before departure, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the

past 90 days, before boarding a flight. 86 FR 69256 (Dec. 7, 2021).\1\

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\1\ The Order stems from previous testing requirements, which

varied in scope and applicability. For example, on December 27,

2020, the CDC implemented the Order, Requirement for Negative Pre-

Departure COVID-19 Test Result for All Airline Passengers Arriving

Into the United States From the United Kingdom, in response to the

Alpha variant and rising number of COVID-19 cases.

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The Order was one of several actions taken by the Federal

government during earlier phases of the COVID-19 pandemic to help

mitigate the further transmission and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants

into and within the United States. At that time, CDC concluded that it

was a reasonable and necessary measure in light of the increased risk

of transmission and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants by international air

travel into the United States, as well as the low rate of vaccination

and infection-induced immunity in the United States, and emergence of

new variants of concern. Indeed, when the Order was last amended, it

identified the Omicron variant as a variant of concern, noting

uncertainty about how easily that variant might spread, the severity of

disease it might cause, and the level of protection against it that

vaccines might afford. 86 FR at 69259-60.

Since then, many circumstances have changed, including the

widespread uptake of effective COVID-19 vaccines and accompanying

vaccine- and infection-induced immunity, as well as the availability of

effective therapeutics. However, CDC remains focused on preventing

medically significant disease, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-

  1. CDC has determined that it is not currently necessary to leave the

Order in place to prevent introduction of currently circulating SARS-

CoV-2 variants into the United States. In its place, CDC has determined

that travelers have access to tools (e.g., vaccines, therapeutics, and

recommended prevention measures) and guidance that allow travelers to

make informed choices about the use of pre-departure testing and other

prevention measures. CDC continues to recommend that all travelers

remain up to date with vaccination against COVID-19 and get tested for

current infection with a viral test before and after they travel, and

after any known exposure to a person with COVID-19, so they can take

appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of exposing others while

infectious.

CDC monitors circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants around the world and

can enhance prevention measures, including reinstituting testing

requirements, as warranted, including if a variant emerges that may

present increased risk of severe illness and death. Removing this

requirement is consistent with the framework CDC released in February

2022, ``COVID-19 Community Levels,'' reflecting public health's focus

on reducing medically significant disease, hospitalization, and

deaths.\2\

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\2\ This new framework examines three currently relevant metrics

for each U.S. county: new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000

population in the past seven days, the percent of staffed inpatient

beds occupied by patients with COVID-19, and total new COVID-19

cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days. Indicators for

Monitoring COVID-19 Community Levels and Implementing Prevention

Strategies, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/science/Scientific-Rationale-summary_COVID-19-Community-Levels_2022.02.23.pptx (Feb.

25, 2022).

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[[Page 36131]]

Vaccines, including boosters, continue to be the most important

public health tool for fighting COVID-19, and CDC recommends that all

people get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible and

stay up to date with their vaccinations.\3\ When the Order was first

issued in January 2021, the United States and countries around the

world were just embarking on efforts to vaccinate their populations and

learn about emerging variants. Now, as of June 9, 2022, 70.9% of the

U.S. population five years of age and older has received a primary

series.\4\ Additionally, booster shots are recommended for and

available to individuals five years of age and older; \5\ second

booster shots are now recommended for adults ages 50 years or older and

people ages 12 years and older who are moderately or severely

immunocompromised.\6\ The increased percentage of individuals who are

not only fully vaccinated with a primary series but have also received

one or more booster doses strengthens community and individual

protection against serious illness from SARS-CoV-2 and reduces the

associated strain on healthcare infrastructure. We know that the now-

dominant Omicron variant, though more transmissible than prior

variants, has generally caused less severe disease among those who are

infected. COVID-19 vaccination still remains an effective measure to

prevent medically significant disease, hospitalizations, and deaths.

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\3\ COVID-19 Vaccines Work, Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/effectiveness/work.html (updated Dec. 23, 2021). See also Thompson

MG, Natarajan K, Irving SA, et al. Effectiveness of a Third Dose of

mRNA Vaccines Against COVID-19-Associated Emergency Department and

Urgent Care Encounters and Hospitalizations Among Adults During

Periods of Delta and Omicron Variant Predominance--VISION Network,

10 States, August 2021-January 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep

2022;71:139-145 (Jan. 28, 2022). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7104e3 (attributing decline of vaccine effectiveness to

waning vaccine-induced immunity over time, possible increased immune

evasion by SARS-CoV-2 variants, or a combination of these and other

factors and finding that receiving a booster shot was highly

effective at preventing COVID-19-associated emergency department and

urgent care encounters and preventing COVID-19-associated

hospitalizations).

\4\ COVID Data Tracker, Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations_vacc-people-onedose-pop-5yr (last visited June 10,

2022).

\5\ COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review: The Time Is Now--

Interpretive Summary for June 3, 2022, Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html (June 3, 2022).

\6\ COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters, Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html#second-booster (updated May 24, 2022).

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Similarly, the availability of efficacious and accessible

treatments adds a powerful layer of protection against severe COVID-19

that was not available in January 2021.\7\ The U.S. Government's

commitment to making such medications available and the ability to

produce variant-specific treatments are critical components of the next

phase of the fight against COVID-19. The observed reduction in severity

of COVID-19 cases and ongoing effective use of pharmaceutical

interventions contribute greatly to minimize medically significant

disease and largely prevent excessive strain on the healthcare sector

at this stage in the pandemic.\8\

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\7\ National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan--March 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/NAT-COVID-19-PREPAREDNESS-PLAN.pdf (last visited Mar. 30, 2022). Antiviral pills

will also be added to the stockpile for the first time. See also

Information About COVID-19 EUAs for Medical Devices, U.S. Food and

Drug Administration, https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/emergency-use-authorization#coviddrugs (updated June 3, 2022); FDA News Release:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes First Oral Antiviral

for Treatment of COVID-19, U.S. Food and Drug Administration,

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-first-oral-antiviral-treatment-covid-19 (Dec. 22, 2021).

\8\ Science Brief: Indicators for Monitoring COVID-19 Community

Levels and Making Public Health Recommendations, Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/indicators-monitoring-community-levels.html

(updated Mar. 4, 2022); Nationwide COVID-19 Infection- and

Vaccination-Induced Antibody Seroprevalence (Blood donations),

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#nationwide-blood-donor-seroprevalence (last

updated Feb. 18, 2022).

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Therefore, based on these considerations, I have concluded that

continuation of the Order is not currently necessary.\9\ There being no

operational need to delay implementation of this rescission for more

than a short period of time, it shall take effect for all aircraft

departing from their point of origin on or after Sunday, June 12, 2022,

at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Importantly, CDC continues

to recommend that all travelers remain up to date with vaccination

against COVID-19 and get tested for current infection with a viral test

before and after they travel, and after any known exposure to a person

with COVID-19, so they can take appropriate precautions to reduce the

risk of transmission while infectious. Furthermore, CDC continues to

recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation

settings.

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\9\ This Order is not a legislative rule within the meaning of

the Administrative Procedure Act (``APA'') but rather a rescission

of a previous Order undertaken as an emergency action under the

existing authority of 42 U.S.C. 264(a) and 42 CFR 71.20, 71.31(b),

which was taken without notice and comment. In the event that a

court determines this rescission qualifies as a legislative rule

under the APA, notice and comment and a delay in effective date are

not required because the prior Order was established without notice

and comment and there is good cause to lift that restriction

immediately, given the current judgment that it is unnecessary to

prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into the United States and to

seek comment prior to the effective date of this notice would be

impracticable and contrary to the public interest. 5 U.S.C.

553(b)(3)(B). Further, while this Order is major under the

Congressional Review Act ``CRA'', it is not necessary to delay the

effective date for similar reasons of good cause. 5 U.S.C. 808(2).

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Effective Date

This rescission shall be effective for all aircraft departing their

point of origin on or after June 12, 2022, at 12:01 a.m. EDT.

Sherri Berger,

Chief of Staff, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[FR Doc. 2022-13022 Filed 6-13-22; 4:15 pm]

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