But he stipulated Wednesday that such a mandate may be “on the table” in the near future. Earlier this week, Fauci publicly recommended the requirement during an interview.
Earlier this year, the federal government issued directives that mandated noncitizens coming into the country need to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of flying.
“Everything that is an intervention is always on the table and always discussed, and we discuss it regularly,” Fauci, who has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, told reporters on Wednesday during a federal COVID-19 response team briefing.
The current restrictions in place, including mandatory mask-wearing on planes and in airports, and increased air filtration “is sufficient” to prevent the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, Fauci said. But he suggested that new federal travel requirements could be implemented.
“If there’s a need to do more beyond this masking, namely, having a vaccine issue, we will seriously consider that as new information arises,” he continued to say. “So it’s just keeping an open mind that the situation may change, but at this particular time, we do not feel that it is necessary to make that a requirement for domestic flights.”
President Joe Biden on Tuesday indicated that he would only make a decision to require vaccination proof if he received such a recommendation from his COVID-19 team.
Meanwhile, his chief of staff and key confidant, Ron Klain, also indicated there will be no change to the current policy before the Supreme Court rules on the administration’s vaccine mandate rule for private businesses with 100 or more employees.
Several recent studies have shown that the Omicron variant—which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said makes up the majority of cases in the United States—presents milder symptoms and fewer hospitalizations than the Delta strain. But Fauci and other officials reiterated Wednesday that because of strain’s high degree of transmissibility, it may lead to more and more hospitalizations in the coming days.
While the current seven-day daily average of cases is about 240,400 per day, up 60 percent over the previous week, the hospitalization rate for the same period is up just 14 percent to about 9,000 per day over the same period. Deaths were down about seven percent to 1,100 per day, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.
Reuters contributed to this report.