People traveling domestically within the United States don’t currently have to prove that they’re COVID-free to board a plane, but a new piece of legislation proposes to change that.
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal’s (D-Santa Barbara) Fly Safe and Healthy Act, the first bill he’s introduced since his reelection, proposes to implement a temperature screening at airport checkpoints in an effort to make flying safer and disincentivize sick people from coming to the airport in the first place.
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY REGIONAL AIRPORT
SAFE TO FLY U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal’s new bill would create a temperature check system to make it safer to fly during the pandemic.
If passed, the bipartisan-supported bill would start as a pilot program in certain, designated areas, Carbajal told the Sun.
“Then, after 90 days, they will look at implementing it throughout the country,” he said.
If someone has a fever in an initial screening, that individual would then go through a second screening that will be further developed by the Centers for Disease Control and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Carbajal said. This screening would determine whether the person can proceed to board their flight or not.
“In some cases they will, and in some cases they won’t,” Carbajal said. “In certain instances where we do come across individuals who do have a temperature, we may have to provide limited rapid testing, for example. Those are the types of protocols that will have to be set up, not for everyone, but for those secondary circumstances where there’s a question whether individuals will be able to continue flying or not.”
According to a statement from Carbajal’s office announcing the bill, the program would include consumer protections, such as requiring “the TSA Administrator to protect travelers’ personal and medical privacy, exempt individuals who may have a fever unrelated to COVID-19, and accommodate individuals with disabilities or who observe certain religious practices.”
Carbajal said the goal of the bill is two-fold: to keep healthy travelers safe, and to prevent sick people from traveling by plane.
“If you’re sick, you should just stay home, because there’s a good chance that if your temperature is high that not only are you putting yourself and others at harm, but you may not be able to fly all together,” Carbajal said. “It really creates a higher adherence to people not flying when they’re ill.”
The bill drew inspiration from other countries that have already implemented health screenings at airports and are doing considerably better than the United States at containing the virus, Carbajal said.
“We’ve seen an administration that has denied that this was a pandemic, has failed to implement a comprehensive strategy or plan working with states, or provide any leadership,” Carbajal said. “This administration should learn a lot from the other countries and implement some of those procedures, which it has not done.” Δ