SCHUMER WANTS ANSWERS ON TSA PLAN TO TAKE TEMPERATURE OF FLIERS AT AIRPORTS BEFORE IT’S IMPLEMENTED; SENATOR WANTS TO KNOW ‘WHO’ WILL LEAD EFFORT, AIRPORTS INVOLVED, WHAT IT MEANS FOR TRAVELERS & WHEN IT MIGHT BEGIN, AMONG OTHER QUESTIONS; EARLY ANSWERS & INFO WILL BE CRITICAL TO DETERMINE IF/HOW IT WILL WORK
The TSA Is Currently Considering A Plan To Check Temperatures At Some American Airports—But That’s All We Know; Schumer Says Several Questions Remain Unanswered
Before Any Plan Or Consideration Is Too Far Along, Schumer Seeks Information & Answers; Health & Safety Of Agents & Traveling Public Is Paramount
Schumer: Before A Plan Like This Is Cleared For Take-Off, TSA Needs To Take The Temp Of Congress & Brief Us
Confirming recent reports that the Transportation Security Administration is considering a plan to check the temperatures of passengers as they go through airport security at what could be multiple American airports, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer released a public letter, today, seeking more official information on the effort. Schumer says that any plan to take the temperatures of fliers has to be clear, safe and meaningful in order to work. He urged the federal agency, and any others who might be involved, to brief Congress before getting too far along in the planning stages.
“Before a plan like this is cleared for takeoff, the TSA needs to take the temperature of a variety of stakeholders, and that includes Congress and the public,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We need to know who will lead the effort, which airports will be involved, what this means for travelers and when it might begin, among other things. TSA, as an agency, has not been immune to COVID and some agents have sadly passed away. That is why any plan to assign agents a task that might be considered outside the general scope of their actual training will require a detailed and public proposal before it simply gets the all clear to fly.”
According to CNN, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had screened more than 30,000 passengers on flights from China during the height of the coronavirus outbreak, but not a single US coronavirus case had been caught by the airport temperature checks. The outlet also reported that TSA has already taken the precautionary measure of requiring its own employees to wear facial protection while at screening checkpoints.
The TSA itself recently reported that roughly 500 of its employees, many who screen air travelers, have tested positive for the coronavirus. Some of those agents have passed away, the TSA also reported.
Schumer’s letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske appears below.
Dear Administrator Pekoske:
I write today on the heels of discussions between our staffs regarding the interagency considerations of TSA, DHS, and HHS to check fliers’ temperatures at some American airports. While I do not write in support or opposition at this time, I, like many others, seek detailed clarity on the consideration process your agency—and any others—are overseeing.
As you are aware, New York-area airports are among the busiest in the nation, and so your agency’s public comments about its ongoing discussions with the Department of Homeland Security and other ‘interagency colleagues,’ related to temperature screenings has spurred many questions. As your agency has said, we must work hard to make “informed decisions with the regard to the health and safety of the aviation environment.” I could not agree more.
Therefore, I would encourage the TSA to formally include Congress in these ongoing discussions, especially members who represent some of the nation’s busiest airports, such as here in New York. Specifically, I respectfully ask that your agency answer some initial questions about any plans to begin temperature screenings at U.S. airports and share these questions with the other relevant agencies in your discussions so that they may consider and answer them as well.
1) Will the TSA lead the effort to administer temperature screenings, and if not, then which agency?
2) While the TSA considers or engages in the planning of an effort such as this, have New York airports been of special interest given their size and traveler volume?
3) What might this new practice mean for air travelers in terms of informing them of temperature screenings?
4) Has there been any discussion(s) on where to send a traveler who might be found to, in fact, have a fever?
5) What might constitute a ‘fever’ as it relates to this potential effort?
6) Is there an internal target date for this effort to begin, say, this summer?
7) Does the TSA consider a potential plan like this to be outside the general scope of a TSA agent’s specific training? Why or why not?
8) What steps might be under consideration to ensure the safety of agents who might face increased exposures to COVID given the effort?
9) What steps, if any, are being considered to incorporate contact tracing for passengers and/or agents into an effort like this?
10) Can your agency commit to briefing Congress on any temperature screening plan before one is so far along that it is simply inexorable?
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