Starting September 14, 2020, the U.S. government halted its enhanced entry screening for COVID-19 at airports for certain international passengers coming in to the U.S. The previous system of temperature checks and screening for COVID-19 symptoms at 15 centralized airports is being replaced with a system the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says is a more effective strategy that “focuses on the continuum, of travel and the individual passengers, including pre-departure and post-arrival education, efforts to develop a potential testing framework with international partners, and illness response.”
According to the CDC, symptom-based screenings have limited effectiveness, since people who have the novel coronavirus may not show symptoms or fever when screened or may only have mild symptoms. We have learned that asymptomatic transmission is possible as well.
The U.S. government will instead focus efforts on educating travelers pre-departure, in-flight and post-arrival, and gathering passengers’ contact information so they can be reached if they discover they’ve been exposed to the virus during their travels. There will also be the continued recommendation of being tested if necessary and self-monitoring after traveling by staying home for 14 days if arriving from a high-risk destination. Additionally, travelers arriving from China, Iran, most of Europe and Brazil will no longer be required to arrive at 15 designated airports in the U.S.
According to a Washington Post article, “A CDC spokeswoman said 675,000 people underwent the screenings and fewer than 15 were identified as having covid-19.” The CDC has concluded that catching people with the virus at any single point in time is difficult because it incubates over a period of days, so the agency’s new approach is aimed at encouraging people to monitor their health over a longer period of time.
Domestic air travel has see na partial rebound after declines in passenger numbers of 95 percent in the spring. However, international traveling has stayed the same since the beginning of the pandemic. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics said last week that “there were only 1.1 million travelers on international flights in July, a decline of 90 percent from the same month last year.”
If you have to travel, please stay safe and take all the necessary precautions. Click here to read our blog post on cleaning your space while flying and here to read our recent blog post on airlines requiring face masks.