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U.S. Democrats propose COVID-19 vaccine mandate for domestic air travel amid concerns

U.S. Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to expand COVID-19 vaccine requirements for international air travelers to people traveling within the United States so as to minimize the risk of spikes in COVID-19 cases after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Democratic lawmakers are urging U.S. President Joe Biden to require that all airline passengers either show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative coronavirus test before boarding a domestic flight, reported Business Insider on Sunday.

"This is a necessary and long overdue step toward ensuring all Americans feel safe and confident while traveling and reduce the chances of yet another devastating winter surge," said a request letter signed by more than 30 Democrats and sent to Biden on Nov. 11.

The letter came as millions plan to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. An estimation from the American Automobile Association said over 53 million people were planning to travel to see loved ones for Thanksgiving this year. Of that, about 4.2 million people were expected to travel by air.

Travelers walk through terminals at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, the United States, Nov. 8, 2021. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised people to avoid taking domestic flights unless they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The White House announced last month that international travelers coming into the United States must show proof of full vaccination to enter.

The Democrats who signed on the letter are urging that Biden expand that mandate to people traveling within the United States so as to minimize the risk of spikes in COVID-19 cases after the holiday.

"We applaud your adoption of vaccine requirements for international air travelers coming to the United States. It is in the best interest of our nation's public health to adopt these vaccination requirements for U.S. air travel," said the letter.

Tourists spend time on the National Mall in Washington D.C., the United States on Oct. 30, 2021, one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children 5 through 11 years of age. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)


The United States administered over 9.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the past seven days, the highest weekly total since late May, the White House's COVID-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar tweeted on Saturday. Vaccinations of children ages 5 to 11, which became widely available this week, likely contributed to the total.

On Sunday, the CDC updated that 226,157,226 people had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, making up 68.1 percent of the whole U.S. population. Fully vaccinated people stood at 194,951,106, accounting for 58.7 percent of the total. A total of 28,571,625 people, or 14.7 percent of fully vaccinated group, received booster shots.

New York State has opened 10 of its COVID-19 mass vaccination sites to children ages 5 to 11 who become newly eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as it seeks to expand access beyond a network of doctors' offices, local health departments, health centers and pharmacies. Over 50,000 children in the state have received at least one shot since Pfizer's vaccine was approved for the age group.

On Saturday, Governor Kathy Hochul said that she had instructed the mass vaccination sites to acquire pediatric doses and prepare to administer them at those locations, adding the state aims to eventually offer the shots at all 13 of its vaccination sites in the days ahead.

California is among three U.S. states allowing coronavirus booster shots for all adults even though federal health officials recommend limiting doses to those considered most at risk.

The nation's most populous state, along with Colorado and New Mexico, instituted the policies to try to head off a feared surge around the end-of-year holidays when more people are gathering inside.


COVID-19 cases are still climbing in places like the upper Midwest, Southwest and parts of the Northeast, "hindering the nation's progress in ending a surge triggered by the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus," reported The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

Nationally, the seven-day average of new cases appears to be edging back up after hovering just above 70,000 for several weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, halting what had been a decline from the Delta-fueled peak that began in September, it added.

Between Nov. 3 and 4, an estimated 112 children ages 5 to 11 were incorrectly administered a COVID-19 vaccine dose intended for people ages 12 and older at Ted Pharmacy in Aldie of Virginia, said the Virginia Department of Health in a statement on earlier this week.

"Our understanding is that Ted Pharmacy attempted to give the correct 10 microgram dosage to those under 12 by administering 0.1 ml of the adult formulation," said David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department. "Due to the very small volume used, and concerns raised by some parents as to whether 0.1 ml was actually administered, it is possible some children were under-dosed."

The Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska announced Friday evening that three of its snow leopards had died of complications from COVID-19, adding that two Sumatran tigers who contracted the virus at the zoo had "seemingly" recovered.

"Our leopards, Ranney, Everest, and Makaly, were beloved by our entire community inside and outside of the zoo," the zoo said in a statement. "This loss is truly heartbreaking, and we are all grieving together." The zoo first reported that the tigers and snow leopards tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 13. 

Published : November 15, 2021

By : Xinhua