Americans Returning From Abroad Not Impressed by U.S. Airports’ COVID-19 Screening
Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, there has been a series of “repatriation flights,” which are flights organized by the U.S. Department of State (in the case of America) to bring citizens stranded in other countries back home. This is done where there are no commercial flights due to borders being closed. However, some Americans are noticing, according to NPR, varying levels of health screenings at U.S. airports, not all of them equally rigorous.
Dan Honig, for example, was one of some 150 passengers who were brought back to the States from Senegal, on a repatriation flight that landed in Washington Dulles International Airport on April 3. He observed that, while the group took protective measures during the flight, which was staffed by medical workers in hazmat suits, the group didn’t go through a final health screening as they disembarked, went home, or went to other domestic flights.
“I expected that my temperature would probably be taken, as it had been when boarding the flight,” says Honig, yet that didn’t take place because Honig and the others were traveling from a place on which the U.S. hasn’t placed travel restrictions. Right now, Customs and Border Protection says that when international flights from China, Iran, the U.K., and the European Union come in, they are taken in groups of 50 in order to test for COVID-19.
“I didn’t know if we would be given self-quarantine orders,” Honig said, “but I thought, at the very least, we would be kind of recommended to do so.”
When NPR asked Customs and Border Protection about Honig’s experience, seeking clarity, the response from a spokesperson said the agency is “following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Considering we have seen the government struggle with resources and knowing how to communicate facts to the American public, I’m not surprised they are trying to be frugal with this, but considering that all air travel has potential risks and most people are asymptomatic, it does seem reckless—especially for those who have seen what happens in other countries.
People began responding to Hoing’s tweets and sharing their experiences of returning to the U.S. through commercial flights and their experiences in other countries:
I arrived in America April 3 on a State Department medical evacuation flight. No medical check; no data collection; no instructions. A very critical month later, and the US still seems to be behind where Senegal had been a month prior on systems/policies. 20/
— Dan Honig (@rambletastic) April 7, 2020
Same thing. We arrived from Cambodia on April 2nd. No checks, questionnaires or anything else. The US “response” is a joke and if it’s wasn’t so serious it would be a comedy. For the so-called greatest country on earth what an embarrassment.
— Phil Butterworth (@ChopperPhil) April 8, 2020
Over the next 14 days, as I continue to quarantine, I’ll share my first-hand experience of how the South Korean government is thinking out of the box to fight the COVID-19. I hope the rest of the world will observe, learn and step up to fight this global pandemic together /4
— Heidi Shin (@heidishin) April 8, 2020
It is alarming how, despite the hard-working people in the medical field attempting to help, there are still a lot of potential holes in the system.
(via NPR, image: Skitterphoto from Pexels)
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