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June 17, 2020

Chairman Thompson Writes DHS on Temperature Check Plan

(WASHINGTON) – Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf expressing concerns regarding reports that DHS is preparing to task the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with checking temperatures of departing passengers at U.S. airports to identify individuals who may have COVID-19. 

“I understand that some airlines and airports are lobbying the Trump Administration to conduct temperature checks as a way to increase public confidence in air travel,” Chairman Thompson wrote.  “These calls for federally administered temperature checks, however, appear to run counter to statements from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which stated that temperature checks conducted on international arriving passengers were ineffective in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and that thermal scanning is a poorly designed control and detection strategy.  A May CDC report concluded that such health screenings were not effective because people can spread COVID-19 asymptomatically.”

Along with concerns regarding effectiveness, many are concerned with the privacy and civil liberties implications of temperature checks, as well as the potential increased exposure of COVID-19 on the TSA workforce.

Link to Letter

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