The Transportation Security Administration is preparing to begin checking passengers’ temperatures at a dozen US airports as soon as next week.
Air travel has all but shuttered over fears of the coronavirus, but officials are reportedly taking new steps to ensure passenger and staff safety.
Details surrounding potential temperature checks are still subject to change and it’s unclear which airports will kick off the new procedure, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The initial execution will cost less than $20million and passengers will not be charged an additional fee for any temperature checks, a senior Trump official said.
The Transportation Security Administration will begin testing air travelers temperatures as soon as next week, Wall Street Journal reports
The scanners used to conduct temperature checks may include a hand held thermal scanner or tripods that can scan several people at once.
Travelers with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will be flagged by staff.
TSA officials said those who do have a fever will be put in contact with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials have not determined if temperature screenings will take place at the beginning of airport security procedures or near the end.
Sources told WSJ that TSA has been wary of shouldering the responsibility for temperature checks.
They reportedly believe such tasks don’t fall under their administration’s mission.
Passengers who record a temperature of 100.4 degress Fahrenheit or higher will be flagged by airport staff
‘At this time, no decision has been made regarding specific health screening measures at airports, ‘ TSA said in a statement Friday.
So far, more than 500 TSA employees have tested positive for the coronavirus and six have died.
Democrats in Congress have also wondered if TSA even has the authority to orchestrate a widespread safety measure of that caliber.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi said that TSA should not further endanger staffers by forcing them to conduct temperature checks.
‘I cannot find any law that gives TSA the authority to perform temperature checks as reported,’ he said in a statement.
‘The Administration should not put these front-line workers in further danger in order to provide passengers a potential false sense of safety.’
But White House and senior Homeland Security officials have reportedly supported thermal temperature scanning to boost confidence in air travel and the economy.
Airlines in the United States have previously pushed for TSA to implement passenger temperature checks to keep sick people off planes and help travelers feel less anxious.
‘We’re urging the TSA to begin temperature scans as part of the screening process at the checkpoints,’ Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines, told CBS News.
The Airports Council International-North America said health screenings should be ‘performed by federal government officials, and minimize the impact on airport operations,’ USA Today reports.
Travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders have caused the demand for air travel to plummet more than 90 per cent.
Some airports have already begum taking passengers’ temperatures, including Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, which started such procedures in April.
Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia (pictured) begun taking passengers’ temperatures in April
Some TSA officials have pushed back against the temperature checks, saying that a person’s temperature is a weak measure of COVID-19.
The temperature scanners won’t pick up on asymptomatic air travelers and may inadvertently block people with other illnesses.
‘Thermal scanning as proposed is a poorly designed control and detection strategy, as we have learned very clearly,’ said Dr. Martin Cetron in a letter to Department of Homeland Security.
‘We should be concentrating our CDC resources where there is impact and a probability of mission success.’
Cost was also a concern, as officials reportedly consider the price of purchasing a bulk of scanner and the quality of devices on the market.
Frontier Airlines said it will being taking passenger temperatures on June 11 before they board any aircrafts.
The airline said those will a 100.4 degrees temperature or higher will be given time to rest before being checked again.
If the passenger still has a high temperature, they won’t be allowed to fly and Frontier will try to rebook the flight.
Paine Field Passenger Terminal, a privately owned airport in Washington, recently installed a thermal camera that screens passengers for fevers.
‘If they have a fever, it becomes an airline decision. We’re not blocking people from entering,’ said Brett Smith, chief executive of Propeller Airports LLC.
TSA reveals ALL employees must wear face masks at screening checkpoints and officials may require anyone who enters airports to do the same
All US airport staffers will be required to wear face masks at screening checkpoints, according to the officials with the Transportation Security Administration.
At the same time, officials and industry workers have begun considering placing the same public health guidelines on passengers entering the airport.
TSA announced the move Thursday and said the agency will begin implementing the new measure in the upcoming days.
‘TSA is making this change to protect our employees and travelers as social distancing cannot always be maintained in the screening process,’ said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a press release.
The Transportation Security Administration announced that employees will be required to wear ‘face coverings’ during their shifts
TSA revealed 534 screeners have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and six died. 285 of those staffers have recovered from the virus.
Facial protections had been voluntary for staffers, but recent pushback from a union representing TSA officers changed the course on health guidelines.
Now, TSA has provided employees with eye protection, N95 respirators and installed plexiglass at the document checking counter.
A change for passengers may well be underway as officials discuss making face masks mandatory for all, two sources told Bloomberg.
Some officials are discussing if passengers in the US should also be required to wear face masks
TSA said 534 screeners have tested positive for coronavirus, 285 have recovered and six died. Pictured: Travelers check in at the American Airline ticket counter at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport on Thursday
Multiple airports have already required travelers and staffers to wear face masks, and all major US airlines have done the same.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said starting Monday all travelers at Los Angeles International Airport ‘will be required to wear face coverings to help us save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19,’ Reuters reported.
The federal government has not mandated face masks for air travelers yet, but TSA has encouraged passengers to don a face protector.
‘Passengers are encouraged to wear facial protection and individuals may be asked to momentarily lower their facial covering for identity verification purposes, or if screening equipment alarms on it,’ the press release said.
TSA added that it is ‘considering further changes to its screening system to further minimize the risk and to limit physical interactions in the security checkpoint,’ but no formal moves have been made.
The Federal Aviation Administration, TSA and other air travel trade groups will be looking at new potential requirements.
One consideration was that airport screeners may perform temperature checks on passengers before they board airplanes. An official decision on that has not been made.