A Republican senator said a COVID-19 testing requirement for domestic flights proposed by President Biden's administration would cause irreparable damage to the travel industry.
"What they're going to do ... is they're going to have everyone flying domestically is going to have to get tested before you get on plane, before you get back on a plane. You talk about devastating the airline industry," Sen. Rand Paul said Friday on Fox News.
The Kentucky Republican argued that the possible mandate, broached by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is at odds with the data due to the inefficacy of the rapid response test for those not experiencing symptoms.
"The Biden administration and these nuts he has over there on his virus group, [if] they really want to kill America, [then they can] try to make us test twice or twice a week or three time a week or four times a week, realizing also that the science isn't there," Paul said. "If you have no symptoms and you get a rapid [response coronavirus] test, you know what the error rate is? Thirty to 40% error rate if you have no symptoms on the rapid test. It's a worthless test."
The Biden administration proposal would mandate air travelers to demonstrate proof of negative COVID-19 tests prior to domestic travel. The proposal was applauded by Marty Cetron, the director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the CDC. "I think this is a really important part of our toolkit to combat this pandemic," he said Tuesday.
The travel industry has suffered a massive blow due to the reluctance to travel amid the pandemic.
Recently available data suggest that tourism in California was halved in 2020, a $66 billion loss, and the Transportation Security Administration announced on Jan. 4 that 500 million fewer people flew in 2020. The TSA also said it expects travel rates to remain low throughout 2021, causing further harm to an already devastated industry.
"[The TSA] expects volume will remain well below pre-pandemic levels through most of 2021," the agency said.