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The Healthy Skies Act

New Bill: The Healthy Skies Act

Earlier today, I sponsored a new bill in the House of Representatives. As we work to get our nation back on its feet, it’s clear we have to keep searching for ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.  On that front, air travel is very important to our economy, but it obviously poses unique challenges because of the number of people packed into a confined space for long periods of time.

Meanwhile, we know that a fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, according to the CDC, Mayo Clinic, etc.  So the question is: how difficult would it be to use airport TSA checkpoints to identify people with a fever – and possibly COVID or some other contagious illness – and prevent them boarding a commercial flight and possibly putting others at risk?

That’s what my bill today aims to find out.  It’s called the “Healthy Skies Act.”  Under this legislation, the TSA would identify at least ten domestic airports for a limited experimental trial study.  As part of the security screening at these airports, the TSA would use appropriate technology to safely perform temperature screenings. Passengers with temperatures in excess of 100.4°F would not be permitted through security.  (100.4 is the CDC threshold for what constitutes a fever. This legislation does, however, carve out exceptions for medical conditions unrelated to COVID-19 that could result in someone’s temperature running high.)

Obviously, we can’t identify every infected person with a temperature check, because it’s possible to have COVID but have no symptoms.  As such, the purpose of this legislation is simply two-fold:

First, it aims to discourage and prevent travelers who DO have one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 (i.e. a fever) from boarding a commercial aircraft and possibly placing other travelers at risk. That’s a good thing.

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.

Anyway, it’s already a bi-partisan bill, with Rep. Budd (R-NC) and Rep. Larson (D-CT) quickly jumping on as original co-sponsors.  I’m grateful for their support, and look forward to seeing what comes from this important study.

Click here to find the full text of the Healthy Skies Act.