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Rep. Norman Introduces Healthy Skies Act for Study on Passenger Temperature Screenings at TSA Checkpoints

Press Release

Date: July 16, 2020
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Transportation

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) introduced the Healthy Skies Act in the House of Representatives, along with Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT). This bill will require the Transportation Security Administration ("TSA") to conduct a limited experimental trial program to check passenger temperatures before those passengers are allowed to proceed through airport security.

Under this legislation, the TSA would identify at least ten (10) domestic airports for this screening program along with the appropriate technology necessary to safely perform temperature screenings on passengers at those facilities. Passengers with temperatures that exceed the Center for Disease Control ("CDC") guidance for what constitutes a fever would not be permitted through security, since a fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 (and other contagious illnesses).

This legislation carves out exceptions for identifying medical conditions unrelated to COVID-19 that could result in a passenger's temperature exceeding CDC guidance for a fever, which is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

It's understood that checkpoint temperature screening are not likely to identify travelers who have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic. As such, the purpose of this legislation is simply two-fold:

First, it aims to discourage and prevent travelers who have one of those common symptoms of COVID-19 from boarding a commercial aircraft and possibly placing other travelers at risk;

And second, it will allow Congress and health officials to better understand the degree to which TSA checkpoints could serve, in some limited capacity, as a way to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Rep. Norman issued the following statement after filing this legislation: "As we work to get our nation back on its feet, we must continue to identify ways to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Air travel poses unique challenges on this front, and it's important to study and understand how TSA checkpoints might play a role in our fight against this and future pandemics. I want to thank Congressman Budd and Congressman Larson for their insight and co-sponsorship of this important bill."

Rep. Budd (R-NC) also issued a statement on Thursday: "Reopening America should be the top priority of our government. Making sure air travelers are healthy enough to fly is a common sense way to boost passenger confidence and jumpstart economic activity. That's how we can stop the spread of the virus and continue a great American comeback."