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COVID USA "Documents of Recovery"

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First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
On 1 August I tested positive for COVID-19. I self-isolated for three weeks +. On 27 August I revisited my doctor, tested negative, and secured from him a signed and dated letter, on official letterhead, stating that I'd tested negative, and was "currently cleared to end isolation and therefore can travel."

When I fly back to the USA on 2 October I will be able to present that letter, plus a paper printout of my original positive test results.

Will that be enough to spare me from the inconvenient task of getting a negative COVID-19 test in Spain w/in 72 hours of flight departure? Has anyone successfully relied upon such "Documents of Recovery" to re-enter the USA?
 
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peregrina2000

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The CDC official site:


Here is the relevant paragraph from the actual order published in the Federal Register:

The negative pre-departure test must be a viral test that was conducted on a specimen collected during the 3 days preceding the flight's departure from a foreign country (Qualifying Test). Alternatively, if the passenger has recovered from COVID-19, the passenger may instead travel with written or electronic documentation of a positive viral test result that confirms previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and a letter from a licensed health care provider or public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared for travel (Documentation of Recovery). A passenger must retain written or electronic documentation reflecting the negative Qualifying Test result or Documentation of Recovery presented to the airline or other aircraft operator. A passenger must also produce such Qualifying Test result or Documentation of Recovery upon request to any U.S. government official or a cooperating state or local public health authority.


Looks like you are good to go! Buen camino,Laurie
 

Monique Craig

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sept - Oct 2014, Camino Portugues Sept - Oct 2017
On 1 August I tested positive for COVID-19. I self-isolated for three weeks +. On 27 August I revisited my doctor, tested negative, and secured from him a signed and dated letter, on official letterhead, stating that I'd tested negative, and was "currently cleared to end isolation and therefore can travel."

When I fly back to the USA on 2 October I will be able to present that letter, plus a paper printout of my original positive test results.

Will that be enough to spare me from the inconvenient task of getting a negative COVID-19 test in Spain w/in 72 hours of flight departure? Has anyone successfully relied upon such "Documents of Recovery" to re-enter the USA?
You would be wise to get the new test as the American authorities requires. Just get it and be done with it is what I say.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
You would be wise to get the new test as the American authorities requires
Hi, @Monique Craig, I’m not sure what you are referring to when you advise that he get the “new test.” The test requirement has been in place since January 12 of this year, but maybe you are referring to something else.

The CDC document I quoted is very clear about the alternative for those who have had covid. If I were in @rappahannock_rev’s situation, I would be comfortable with the documents he has and would forego the hassle of the test in Santiago or the Madrid airport. If he wanted to be extremely cautious, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to have available a copy of the relevant language from the Federal Register, and the CDC page I linked to above has an option for going to a Spanish version as well. Up to each individual of course, but it’s important to know exactly what the requirements are before making that decision!
 

frida1

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Camino Frances April 11-May 11 2014
Thank you, Peregrina, for providing the official and correct information about the requirements. Personally, I would also do the test. When you’re in a line and an official questions your credentials, it’s usually easier to appease them than to appeal to higher authorities. Frontline staff asking for papers can be misinformed, especially during times like these.
 
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Monique Craig

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Camino Frances Sept - Oct 2014, Camino Portugues Sept - Oct 2017
Hi, @Monique Craig, I’m not sure what you are referring to when you advise that he get the “new test.” The test requirement has been in place since January 12 of this year, but maybe you are referring to something else.

The CDC document I quoted is very clear about the alternative for those who have had covid. If I were in @rappahannock_rev’s situation, I would be comfortable with the documents he has and would forego the hassle of the test in Santiago or the Madrid airport. If he wanted to be extremely cautious, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to have available a copy of the relevant language from the Federal Register, and the CDC page I linked to above has an option for going to a Spanish version as well. Up to each individual of course, but it’s important to know exactly what the requirements are before making that decision!
It has been my experience that officials interpret the CDC rules differently. Example, Sunday past my good friend flying to France would not have been able to board her flight in Evansville IN if she didn't present a neg PCR or rapid antigen test. She argued that it was not required but none the less they had been given these instructions. Evansville airport does not have a testing site but fortunately on my advice to be safe rather than sorry she got a test the day before.
Per CDC "Antigen tests look for pieces of proteins that make up the SARSCoV-2 virus to determine if the person has an active infection". He should no longer have an active infection so theoretically could take the rapid test or the antigen test and test neg. With that result and his vaccination card he just walks through. Problem is it's high rate of false pos and negs. So then you ask what do I do if it's positive? I wouldn't disclose it to the authorities and just present the paperwork he already has. I'm sure everything will be fine. It usually is.
 

Monique Craig

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sept - Oct 2014, Camino Portugues Sept - Oct 2017
It has been my experience that officials interpret the CDC rules differently. Example, Sunday past my good friend flying to France would not have been able to board her flight in Evansville IN if she didn't present a neg PCR or rapid antigen test. She argued that it was not required but none the less they had been given these instructions. Evansville airport does not have a testing site but fortunately on my advice to be safe rather than sorry she got a test the day before.
Per CDC "Antigen tests look for pieces of proteins that make up the SARSCoV-2 virus to determine if the person has an active infection". He should no longer have an active infection so theoretically could take the rapid test or the antigen test and test neg. With that result and his vaccination card he just walks through. Problem is it's high rate of false pos and negs. So then you ask what do I do if it's positive? I wouldn't disclose it to the authorities and just present the paperwork he already has. I'm sure everything will be fine. It usually is.
I should not have gone so far in my previous entry since I'm not a DR or Pharmacist but rather a PT. When I said new test I didn't mean a new type of test. This I did read. There are three types of tests available for COVID-19 that can detect whether a person had it in the past (serology testing, which tests for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19), or whether they have it in the present (polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and antigen testing, which test for active infection).
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
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This is my MD advice: call the airline you are using. The exception letter for recent recovered infection is based on the science that within a recent period of time from an infection, you (a) might still have a positive test and (b) should be immune to infection and not be infective. This would in theory cover those who for instance test positive at the airport and now are trying to return home a couple of weeks later. Not months later. It’s not meant to be a permanent test excusal. You could become re-infected. How the person at the gate interprets this may work in your favor, or not. If it were me, I’d get the test. But at the least, I’d find out what the policy of the gate keepers is.
 

peregrinapenguin

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2021
You would be wise to get the new test as the American authorities requires. Just get it and be done with it is what I say.
Well, one of them(PCR or antigen) , possibly both, stays positive after recovery and you are not contagious, so do not get the test. Maybe you can teach others.

The length and quality of protection of natural immunity is being debated.(as it is with some of the vaccines, edited) Buen Camino!
 
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Various routes...
@Smallest_Sparrow gives good pragmatic advice. In addition, if you choose the alternative documentation, one thing to emplasize about the CDC guidelines is the bolded 'and':
Alternatively, if the passenger has recovered from COVID-19, the passenger may instead travel with written or electronic documentation of a positive viral test result that confirms previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and a letter from a licensed health care provider or public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared for travel (Documentation of Recovery
So don't just bring that letter, because it sounds like you need the posigive viral test tesult, too.
And if it were me, I'd be printing that CDC guideline and carrying it with me. In case.
 
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frida1

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Camino Frances April 11-May 11 2014
Re false positives: I can’t speak to re-entry into the US specifically, but I’ve read accounts by a few people who tested positive and needed to quarantine before returning to their home country. It seems that one positive test is usually followed by an opportunity to retest, in order to be sure of a genuine positive. Quarantine is a hassle for the host country to provide. I don’t think anyone has an interest in quarantining someone unnecessarily.
 

Monique Craig

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sept - Oct 2014, Camino Portugues Sept - Oct 2017
Well, one of them(PCR or antigen) , possibly both, stays positive after recovery and you are not contagious, so do not get the test. Maybe you can teach others.

The length and quality of protection of natural immunity is being debated. Buen Camino!
It's confusing I know. The PCR and antigen tests only show whether the virus is active. Yes that means it can be positive but that's why I would get the RAPID test (yes less accurate but not as sensitive as the PCR) and if it's positive don't present it to the authorities.
Well, one of them(PCR or antigen) , possibly both, stays positive after recovery and you are not contagious, so do not get the test. Maybe you can teach others.

The length and quality of protection of natural immunity is being debated.(as it is with some of the vaccines, edited) Buen Camino!
Not true. PCR and Rapid tests are both for antigens.
The two tests that are widely used to test for COVID-19 are PCR tests and antigen tests. Both the PCR test and the antigen test use a nasopharyngeal swab to test for the virus, and both are useful for diagnosing COVID-19. Both tests are very specific, which means that if you test positive with either test, you almost certainly have COVID-19. There are very few false positives with either test.

The PCR test (often known as the “send out” test) is very specific and very sensitive. This sensitivity means that there are very few false positives from a PCR test. This test can identify not only infectious COVID, but can also pick up non-infectious viral fragments. A PCR swab will accurately identify a COVID infection earlier than a rapid antigen test, but it is also more likely to be positive after you are no longer contagious.

The rapid antigen test provides results in about 10-15 minutes. This quick and inexpensive test is just as specific as the PCR test, but it is not as sensitive. If you get tested after exposure but before you have any symptoms, you may get a false negative. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 after a negative antigen test, you may need to get tested again. These tests are ideal for patients with symptoms of COVID-19 or for people who need clearance to return to work or school after a positive COVID test.
Be careful guys, I'm like a dog with a bone. LOL! I hope this clears things up.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
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2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Re false positives: I can’t speak to re-entry into the US specifically, but I’ve read accounts by a few people who tested positive and needed to quarantine before returning to their home country. It seems that one positive test is usually followed by an opportunity to retest, in order to be sure of a genuine positive. Quarantine is a hassle for the host country to provide. I don’t think anyone has an interest in quarantining someone unnecessarily.
I don’t believe any country will let someone try for best 2 out of 3. A positive test will undoubtedly be considered positive and require isolation (quarantine is for people potentially ill, isolation is what’s required after a positive test, medical trivia). Yes sometimes tests are false positives. But usually they are true positives. No county is going to play roulette to see. The only person inconvenienced by a positive test before flying is the traveler, who should have made sure s/he had the time and $ needed to deal with a positive test. Just plan ahead.
 

Monique Craig

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sept - Oct 2014, Camino Portugues Sept - Oct 2017
Re false positives: I can’t speak to re-entry into the US specifically, but I’ve read accounts by a few people who tested positive and needed to quarantine before returning to their home country. It seems that one positive test is usually followed by an opportunity to retest, in order to be sure of a genuine positive. Quarantine is a hassle for the host country to provide. I don’t think anyone has an interest in quarantining someone unnecessarily.
I agree entirely and tried to find out one had to wait before doing another rapid test but couldn't find an answer. If you begin your testing 72 hours out then you have all the up to your flight departure to do another test and if it were me I would not present the positive test results, just go with the other paperwork.
 
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It’s a sad state of affairs when travelers have to figure out ways to skirt around regulations in order to achieve a reasonable outcome. Unfortunately, this is where we are at, at the moment.
Good luck, Rappahannock Rev. I’m glad you are healthy and on the road again.
 
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Monique Craig

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Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sept - Oct 2014, Camino Portugues Sept - Oct 2017
I don’t believe any country will let someone try for best 2 out of 3. A positive test will undoubtedly be considered positive and require isolation (quarantine is for people potentially ill, isolation is what’s required after a positive test, medical trivia). Yes sometimes tests are false positives. But usually they are true positives. No county is going to play roulette to see. The only person inconvenienced by a positive test before flying is the traveler, who should have made sure s/he had the time and $ needed to deal with a positive test. Just plan ahead.
Good point, I hadn't thought about that.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
This is my MD advice: call the airline you are using. The exception letter for recent recovered infection is based on the science that within a recent period of time from an infection, you (a) might still have a positive test and (b) should be immune to infection and not be infective. This would in theory cover those who for instance test positive at the airport and now are trying to return home a couple of weeks later. Not months later. It’s not meant to be a permanent test excusal. You could become re-infected. How the person at the gate interprets this may work in your favor, or not. If it were me, I’d get the test. But at the least, I’d find out what the policy of the gate keepers is.
Turns out nothing is simple these days. When I read the CDC webpage, I noticed that the document referred vaguely to “recent infection.” The actual regulation is much more precise. It requires that the positive test result have occurred within three months preceding the trip to the US.

If @rappahannock_rev tested positive on August 1, that means he could return to the US from Spain with this alternative documentation no later than November 1. If the return is later, the alternative route won’t work and he would need a new test. But he tells us he is going home on October 1, well within that window.

I think it’s always best to follow the regulations as written, and I assume that this alternative is provided because the CDC knows that recently recovered patients may give false positives. Why mess with that? Why not do what the CDC tells you to do?

The entire order is here. Relevant excerpt follows:

Confirm that a passenger alternatively has written or electronic documentation of recovery from COVID- 19 means confirmation that:

(1) The passenger has presented documentation of a positive test result and a signed letter on official letterhead that contains the name, address, and phone number of a licensed healthcare provider or public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared for travel; [3]

(2) the positive test result occurred within the last three months (90 days) preceding the passenger's flight to the United States, or at such other intervals as specified in CDC guidance; [4]

(3) the personal identifiers (e.g., name and date of birth) on the positive test result and signed letter match the personal identifiers on the passenger's passport or other travel documents;

(4) the test performed was a viral test (as defined below); andStart Printed Page 7389

(5) the test result states “POSITIVE,” “SARS-CoV-2 RNA DETECTED,” “SARS-CoV-2 ANTIGEN DETECTED,” or “COVID-19 DETECTED.” A test marked “invalid” is not acceptable.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
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Turns out nothing is simple these days. When I read the CDC webpage, I noticed that the document referred vaguely to “recent infection.” The actual regulation is much more precise. It requires that the positive test result have occurred within three months preceding the trip to the US.

If @rappahannock_rev tested positive on August 1, that means he could return to the US from Spain with this alternative documentation no later than November 1. If the return is later, the alternative route won’t work and he would need a new test. But he tells us he is going home on October 1, well within that window.

I think it’s always best to follow the regulations as written, and I assume that this alternative is provided because the CDC knows that recently recovered patients may give false positives. Why mess with that? Why not do what the CDC tells you to do?

The entire order is here. Relevant excerpt follows:

Confirm that a passenger alternatively has written or electronic documentation of recovery from COVID- 19 means confirmation that:

(1) The passenger has presented documentation of a positive test result and a signed letter on official letterhead that contains the name, address, and phone number of a licensed healthcare provider or public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared for travel; [3]

(2) the positive test result occurred within the last three months (90 days) preceding the passenger's flight to the United States, or at such other intervals as specified in CDC guidance; [4]

(3) the personal identifiers (e.g., name and date of birth) on the positive test result and signed letter match the personal identifiers on the passenger's passport or other travel documents;

(4) the test performed was a viral test (as defined below); andStart Printed Page 7389

(5) the test result states “POSITIVE,” “SARS-CoV-2 RNA DETECTED,” “SARS-CoV-2 ANTIGEN DETECTED,” or “COVID-19 DETECTED.” A test marked “invalid” is not acceptable.
Excellent point. I misread the return date. I still wouldn’t underestimate bureaucracy and I’d make sure my airline agreed before I was standing at the check in counter. The time to argue about what the cdc says would be prior to day of departure IMO. Ymmv.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
It’s a sad state of affairs when travelers have to figure out ways to skirt around regulations in order to achieve a reasonable outcome. Unfortunately, this is where we are at, at the moment.
Good luck, Rappahannock Rev. I’m glad you are healthy and on the road again.
I don’t think that’s accurate. There is no need for Rappahannock to skirt the regulations and I don’t think anyone is recommending that. If he has all the documentation listed in the order, he complies perfectly with the regulations.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I’m amending my statement that I’d get the test just in case, because the OP will be less than 2 months out from his infection—I missed that. If I were 2 months out I wouldn’t want to retest due to possibility of false positive. I agree with @peregrina2000 (who’s right as usual) that if he takes all his required documentation he should be ok. But bc I’ve seen how one minor person with a clipboard can ruin an entire trip, I’d still contact the airline (preferably via email) well before return, reference the CDC guidelines and get confirmation they agree. And add their response to the documents presented to the minor person with a clipboard at the checkin counter.
 
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peregrina2000

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I still wouldn’t underestimate bureaucracy and I’d make sure my airline agreed before I was standing at the check in counter. The time to argue about what the cdc says would be prior to day of departure IMO

I share your estimation of the powers of bureaucracy, but all airlines flying into the US surely have a summary of what the CDC requires on their website. American specifically refers to negative test or documentation of recovery.

So here’s what I’d do — just print out the airline’s stated policy and have it with all my other paperwork. No way to prevent some mean-spiritied, confused, or inept ticket agent, no matter how much documentation I had, but I can’t imagine that there would ultimately be a bad result.


American’s website says:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requires all passengers flying to the U.S., including U.S. citizens, show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of departure, or documentation of recovery. This does not apply to children under 2 years old.

Keep in mind, if you cannot show proof of a negative test or documentation of recovery, you cannot fly and won’t be allowed to board the plane.

  • Show your documents to an American Airlines agent. The forms can be printed, digital, or uploaded to the VeriFly app.
  • Complete the CDC attestation form. The form can also be completed in the VeriFly app.
 

Faye Walker

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CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I don’t think that’s accurate. There is no need for Rappahannock to skirt the regulations and I don’t think anyone is recommending that. If he has all the documentation listed in the order, he complies perfectly with the regulations.
I do think that the advice to withhold any positive test is advice to be dishonest. That Public Health would have the results *anyway* is beside the point as lags in communication from a health agency to border control leave plenty of room for exploitation.

Pair that with the *thread* moving away from the specifics about timing of recovery and timing of travel and there is a very real probability of a reader returning to this thread in, say, November… and deciding that because they had COV last summer, going in January should be no problem.

One thing that the virus has shown us is that people make decisions that affect public health without considering their impact on public health.

I wish the @rappahannock_rev all the beset with his travels, and there’s no issue with his dates, nor with the paperwork advised to carry.

I certainly wish that this thread had not moved to rather suspect advice to withhold positive test results and avoid isolation and/or quarantine protocols. Without the conversational continuation of *timeframe limits* on the matter of recovery documents, future would-be pilgrims may easily feel encouraged to take a mile where an inch was given.

I see the risks of travelling now to include the potential cost for isolation and/or quarantine. On this point it’s rather like dining out: it’s a *choice* and if you can’t afford the tip for service, then you can’t afford dining out. We ought all to calculate what it would mean to our budgets to have to isolate while away, what it might mean if we could not return to work within 2 weeks of returning home.
Those of us double-vaccinated can still acquire and transmit the virus. That’s not an opinion; it’s a demonstrable fact, and the same holds for those who have recovered from an infection.

We might avoid getting ill ourselves, but viruses travel (because people travel). The virus we pass on to the business traveller who may take it back to a region with very low vaccination makes us parties to the fallout if we refuse to isolate, quarantine, show our test results, etc.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I do think that the advice to withhold any positive test is advice to be dishonest.

You are referring to people who were disagreeing with my suggestion that the OP follow the CDC’s regulations, which say that he will be able to re-enter the country if he has the documentation specified in the order to establish that he has recovered from covid in the last few months.

I totally agree with you that the advice to withhold positive test information is suggesting dishonest behavior. But that advice came on top of the bad advice that the OP take a covid test. He should not take a covid test, he should bring documentation of recovery. That’s what the CDC tells him to do and it seems obvious to me that that should be the end of the discussion.

Bottom line — the no-brainer recommendation is that the OP and every other person who needs to re-enter the US should follow the CDC regulations.

I am sorry that some posters took this thread off its very simple direct line of inquiry and suggested deviations from officially published procedures and regulations, but rather than continue to rehash it, and since everything should be crystal clear, I think it’s time to close the thread.
 
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