The federal government announced on Wednesday that it would start screening passengers entering the United States from West Africa. The airport screenings will take place at five U.S. airports, beginning with John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City. This is supposed to be a response from the U.S. Government as fears of Ebola spreading across the U.S. have made news with a passenger recently diagnosed with the disease that had flown through Dulles.
The other four airports on the list are Hartsfield-Jackson International, Washington Dulles International, Newark Liberty International, and O’Hare International. Screenings at those four airports will begin as early as next week.
According to the New York Times, the screening will include officials taking passengers’ temperatures with a “gun-like, noncontact thermometer and requiring them to fill out a questionnaire after deplaning.” These procedures will occur with anyone traveling from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Numbers show that approximately 90% of the people who come from those three countries travel through these five airports, including Kennedy, which sees 43% of the passengers traveling from those countries.
Is this the first step of many the government will take to quell fears about a potential outbreak? Will it even help given the fact that when the first U.S. patient diagnosed with the disease traveled, he was not showing any signs of it given its 21 day incubation period? It remains to be seen, but it is more likely to be a publicity move in an attempt to hamper people’s fears.