I recently joined 12 of America’s top travel industry CEOs on a letter sent to the White House and congressional leaders with a direct message: we need greater availability of rapid, efficient and accurate COVID-19 testing in order to combat the dual health and economic crises plaguing the country.
Our call to action is based on a wealth of information that clearly indicates a full economic recovery is, in part, reliant on broader testing.
Encouragingly, key components of the TEST Act—a bipartisan bill that would increase the federal role in pursuing and promoting testing methods—were included in the HEALS Act, the Senate majority’s proposal for the next phase of coronavirus relief legislation. In addition to testing, sustained recovery will depend on a comprehensive set of measures to provide relief, protection and stimulus for travel industry businesses.
From both a health and economic perspective, it’s common sense: Widely available, rapid testing allows those with a positive diagnosis to isolate more quickly and prevent the spread of infection, and provides the general public with greater confidence to resume normal aspects of our daily lives. Such activities, of course, include traveling, which will help restore lost travel-related jobs and put Americans back to work.
Which brings me to an important point: we all need to be wearing masks in public spaces, including in our own communities.
The fact of the matter, backed by numerous scientific studies, is that masks work—plain and simple. Wearing a mask or face covering—combined with other healthy practices such as frequent hand washing and staying home if you’re sick—is the simplest way to mitigate risk and resume travel safely.
To that point, Dr. Trish Perl, a renowned infectious diseases expert who collaborated with U.S. Travel to craft our industry’s health and safety guidance, recently stated that some travel can resume safely with the right practices in place. U.S. Travel created a suite of resources around this idea called Travel Confidently (A shared responsibility.), which includes infographics, social media materials, sample web badges and more that showcase our entire industry's commitment to keeping travelers safe and healthy at every point in the travel journey.
We all have a role to play in ensuring a safe and healthy travel experience: wear a mask, sanitize surfaces and wash hands frequently, and stay home if you are feeling sick. U.S. Travel will continue to advocate for these healthy, common-sense travel practices, and will continue our engagement with Congress and the administration to push for an increased federal role in COVID-19 testing.