Photo Courtesy of TSA
TSA has taken the precautionary measure of requiring its own employees to wear facial protection while at screening checkpoints.
By Forum Staff
As the U.S. Transportation Security Administration considers a plan to check the temperatures of passengers as they go through airport security at what could be multiple American airports, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is 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. In a recent letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, New York’s senior senator 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,” Schumer said. “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.”
In his missive to Pekoske, Schumer listed questions that he wanted TSA to answer and share “with the other relevant agencies in your discussions so that they may consider and answer them as well.”
The senator’s questions include:
- Will the TSA lead the effort to administer temperature screenings, and if not, then which agency?
- 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?
- What might this new practice mean for air travelers in terms of informing them of temperature screenings?
- Has there been any discussion(s) on where to send a traveler who might be found to, in fact, have a fever?
- What might constitute a “fever” as it relates to this potential effort?
- Is there an internal target date for this effort to begin, say, this summer?
- 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?
- What steps might be under consideration to ensure the safety of agents who might face increased exposures to COVID given the effort?
- What steps, if any, are being considered to incorporate contact tracing for passengers and/or agents into an effort like this?
- Can your agency commit to briefing Congress on any temperature screening plan before one is so far along that it is simply inexorable?
Schumer cited a recent CNN report that noted that 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 U.S. coronavirus case had been caught by the airport temperature checks. CNN also indicated that TSA has already taken the precautionary measure of requiring its own employees to wear facial protection while at screening checkpoints.