The US COVID testing requirement for inbound international air travelers, “Testy” for short, died on Friday, June 10 just before turning 17 months of age. His sudden death was oft-rumored but never truly expected. He will not be missed.
Testy was conceived on November 20, 2020 when his mother, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), began suggesting that travelers get tested between 1 and 3 days before flying. After an unusually short gestation, Testy was born on December 24. He started out small, only as a requirement for those flying to the US from the United Kingdom, but he was destined from the start to be a big deal.
Testy flourished in his early days, and by January 26, 2021, he was imposing his will on anyone flying into the United States — assuming they were allowed to enter the country at all — regardless of origin country or citizenship.
It did not take long for Testy to discover the full weight of his abilities, forcing countless travelers to hole up in a hotel or at home abroad just because Testy decided to show off two lines instead of one. He struck fear into the hearts of many, and not just those who traveled abroad. Those who stayed home feared Testy as well to the point that they called off their travels rather than risk subjecting themselves to his fickle nature.
Testy’s power reached its apex on November 8, 2021. That day, travel bans were removed and travelers from most countries countries around the world were allowed to fly to the United States, but only if they were vaccinated and only if they got Testy’s approval before boarding an airplane. Something changed in Testy that day. Drunk with power, Testy began to slip toward his eventual end.
Testy increasingly became paranoid later in life. On December 6, 2021, he forced all travelers to use him within 1 day of travel instead of the previous 3 day requirement. He believed they were all trying to sneak something past him, so he tightened his grip as best he could. But as his delusion grew, travelers found more and more ways to pass him by.
Since Testy could only wield his power over those flying on airplanes, some travelers took advantage of crossing into the US via land borders, avoiding Testy’s wrath entirely. Testy’s arch-nemesis, the Cross Border Xpress, brazenly allowed travelers to fly to Tijuana and walk right over the airport’s bridge into the US without a single test.
Others tried to make Testy feel wanted. They bought multiple units, knowing that even if Testy showed a positive result, his relatively inaccuracy meant that they could try, try, try again until eventually Testy changed his mind.
Still others relied on trickery, playing “swap the swab” as they took their tests, bypassing Testy’s whims entirely despite the watchful eye of his Zoom-based henchmen.
In the end, Testy became more isolated and less useful, but he never admitted defeat. If he was ill, his mother failed to disclose that to anyone who might have benefited from the knowledge. He died this past Friday, June 10, leaving everyone scrambling to understand what a Testy-less future would bring.
Testy may have been hated when he was alive, but he leaves behind an also-hated legacy of higher fares. The increase in demand for travel after the passing of Testy is bound to further stretch the limited airline capacity that is flying internationally. Whether in life or death, if nothing else, Testy always found a way to expertly make people angry through his actions.
Testy is survived by the requirement that all non-citizens must still be vaccinated for COVID before flying to the US as well as by eMed… whose life was so intertwined with Testy that her very own survival is at risk.