Coronavirus: U.S. to Stop Health Screening of International Flights

Coronavirus: U.S. to Stop International Screening at 15 Airports

The U.S. Will Halt Coronavirus Health Screening at 15 Airports as of 9/14/20 for International Flights from China, Iran, Europe, the UK, Ireland and Brazil, and will stop mandating that international flights be routed to those 15 airports for passengers arriving from or who recently visited the above countries, per the CDC.

The enhanced health screening at the 15 airports usually consists of being asked questions about COVID-19 symptoms and having a temperature check. This has been deemed ineffective, since screening typically doesn't include testing, and so many people that are infected by COVID-19 are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.

That said, travelers have been asked for their contact information, which can be used for contact tracing, so this information will no longer be collected unless the airport is in a state such as New York, which does require a New York Health Form to be completed (else the traveler faces a $2000 fine). New York's health form also informs arrivals of New York's mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals from restricted states and territories.

The White House is said to have ordered the stop to prescreening. The CDC announcement notes that government resources will instead focus on more effective efforts, including health education of passengers; voluntary collection of passenger contact information electronically, to avoid lines and crowding; and potential testing.

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Will International Flights Return to Secondary Airports?

The change could be good news for airports that weren't one of the 15 airports (BOS, ORD, DFW, DTW, HNL, FLL, IAH, ATL, JFK, LAX, MIA, EWR, SFO, SEA, IAD) used for the enhanced health screening, and that therefore lost nonstop international flights.

Airports such as Philadelphia PHL, Denver DEN, Tampa TPA and Las Vegas LAS have been hurting as international flights were cancelled and airlines funneled passengers to the above 15 airports for health screenings.

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