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COVID-19

Senate Bill Wants TSA To Take Your Temperature

Senate Bill Wants TSA To Take Your Temperature
Joe Cortez

If a recently introduced bill in the U.S. Senate moves forward, the Transportation Security Administration could be doing more than checking your ID. The Cantwell-Scott Fly Safe and Healthy Act of 2020 would make the TSA also do temperature checks of passengers at security checkpoints.

A newly introduced bill in Congress wants the Transportation Security Administration to be in charge of checking both your government-issued identification and your temperature, as a measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. Introduced in the U.S. Senate, the Cantwell-Scott Fly Safe and Healthy Act of 2020 wants to expand the authority of the TSA to include temperature screenings, to help flyers feel safe.

Bill Would Set Four-Month Pilot Program with “Various Technologies”

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), both members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. If passed, the TSA would open a four-month pilot program at airports with TSA checkpoints “that represent diverse operating conditions, including those with various passenger throughputs.”

During this time, the TSA administrator would evaluate “various technologies” to scan passenger temperatures. TSA agents would be trained to use the technology, and program procedures. If a passenger’s temperature is above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, they would be refused entry into the airport’s secure zone. In this situation, the flyer would legally be allowed to cancel or change their flight at no additional cost.

The agency would also be allowed to partner with a number of national and regional health authorities, including academic institutions, national laboratories, public health groups and private companies to make improvements to the system. Once the trial is complete, the TSA would have 90 days to develop a plan to install temperature scanning equipment at checkpoints across the country until the COVID-19 pandemic is declared over.

The bill hopes to encourage travelers to once again fly with airlines, as the carriers find themselves debating which airports to support and how to manage a number of layoffs. The senators cite recent data from the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) which suggests temperature checks would make 80 percent of flyers feel more comfortable booking and taking a flight. And if the temperature checks would result in a 10 percent increase in air travel, Airlines for America claims it could drive more than $1.53 billion towards airline payrolls.

TSA Bill Latest Attempt to Curb Transmission Through Temperature

The bill has been introduced into the Senate, and is awaiting a committee hearing. However, it’s not the first attempt to make the public feel safer by taking the temperature of flyers. In June 2020, Los Angeles World Airports introduced a voluntary temperature scanning program, with the goal of identifying international travelers who may have COVID-19. Those who tested at a high temperature were either diverted to local health officials, or referred to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for additional support.

View Comments (10)

10 Comments

  1. FlyingNone

    September 28, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    I’d rather have some type of community medical staff waiting at the doors of terminals to read my temperature. Nothing like some power-tripping TSA agent reading the thermometer wrong.

  2. jjmoore

    September 29, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    First misconception is that we can “stop the spread of the virus”. This is simply not possible in a functioning society. Want to stop it? Shut everything down for 2 months. Lock every single person up in their homes and threaten military force to anyone that even steps outside.

    The virus cannot be stopped any other way (face masks, social distancing, etc. etc. etc.). It is 10-20 times more contagious than the common cold, and for those of us under 60 years old, it will not affect any of us any worse than the flu or common cold.

    It is not worth destroying our economy to try to stop this thing any more than we already have (and failed). If we had any sort of competent gubernatorial leadership, we would not have been shut down for more than 2 weeks.

    Temperature checks at the airport – I don’t mind this. I would prefer not to fly with sick people on the plane in general. Going into flu season, however, means that the flu will absolutely be mistaken for the virus, and will force people needlessly to hospitals and into 2 week quarantines. This is not going to result in a good situation later this year. Planning to tank up on lots of ibuprofen for my travel days, just in case…

  3. Boggie Dog

    September 29, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    There is no circumstance that TSA should be taking people temperatures. This check has been shown to be of little benefit. However, if this is going to be done then it should be a function of the airport\airlines and done as a person first enters a terminal.

  4. tbuccelli

    September 30, 2020 at 7:52 am

    If done like the hospital near me, it would not be too bad. There is a camera / sensor on the wall that takes your temperature as you walk up to the desk. Everyone has to go through either the metal detector or the body scanner, so it would be fairly easy to automate and only flag if say over 100. The issue happens when someone triggers that flag and a decision needs to be made, are they overheated? Are they sick, and if so, infectious?

    Also, would this be something that is permanent because setting up the infrastructure could be expensive.

  5. JonMST

    September 30, 2020 at 9:12 am

    Airlines should take passenger temperatures. Airlines should also do their own security, but that is a different matter.

  6. kate lied

    September 30, 2020 at 9:25 am

    why not have automated thermal scanners at the entrance to the Airport like in Rome.

  7. Centurion

    September 30, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Comical attempt that temp taking helps prevent the spread of Covid. Who wrote the bill? A Thermal Camera company?

  8. kabroui

    September 30, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Good heavens… the stupidity continues unabated….

  9. sfoeuroflyer

    October 4, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Blame the FDA…and do so loudly. There are very good antibody tests that give results in 15 minutes. Screening every passenger would confer huge advantages that masks or thermometers can’t. This test is not 100% perfect, but is much better than any other practical solution. Better than masks by miles. So why has this not been rolled out? BUREAUCRATS who can’t think beyond the end of their noses.

  10. CDTraveler

    October 4, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    2 aspirin is all you need to deceive those temperature checks. This is even stupider than making you take all the food or papers out of your carry-on.

    As for the 15 minute antibody tests, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/resources/antigen-tests-guidelines.html explains a lot of the reasons why that’s not feasible. There’s also the costs of deploying persons trained to administer, perform and interpret the tests, installing appropriate facilities inside airports which not only maintain patient/passenger privacy but also comply with all FDA & state regulations regarding handling of medical waste, managing the flow of persons to be tested, tested waiting for results, tested negative, tested positive – and don’t forget the complexities of creating a bubble around anyone positive while maintaining their right to medical privacy, etc.

    No, 15 minute antibody tests are not the solution, either.

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