The Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday revealed more details about the government’s plans to expand coronavirus screening efforts in the United States, with the list of participating airports increasing from five to 20.
Scott Pauley of the CDC confirmed to USA TODAY that the 20 airports align with the center’s existing quarantine stations that cover all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The stations are part of the CDC’s system for limiting the introduction and spread of contagious diseases in the U.S.
Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech Monday that these airports collectively handle about 90% of passengers arriving from China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated.
Here’s the expanded list of airports (screenings at the top five were already taking place):
What can passengers expect in terms of screenings in the US?
Travelers flying from China to one of the 20 airports will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire about their travel, any symptoms and contact information.
CDC staff will also take travelers’ temperatures with a handheld thermometer that doesn’t touch the skin and watch for signs of a cough or difficulty breathing.
In the case of travelers who appear sick, the CDC will evaluate them further to determine whether the passenger should be taken to a hospital for further care. However, the first two U.S. cases, in Seattle and Chicago, involved travelers who didn’t show symptoms at the airport.
For travelers without symptoms, the CDC is handing out health information cards with details on the symptoms they should look for up to two weeks after leaving China.
The statistics so far
So far, 106 people have died from coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases in China has ballooned to more than 4,500.
The epicenter of the outbreak is Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, but during their Tuesday press conference, CDC and HHS officials said there were 60 cases in 13 other countries outside of China, including five in the U.S.
The CDC has issued its most severe warning for China and advised against all nonessential travel to the country. The U.S. State Department, similarly, has advised Americans to reconsider travel to China.
United Airlines said Tuesday it would suspend 24 flights between the U.S. and China and became the first U.S. airline to make such a move. Delta and American also offer nonstop service between the U.S. and China.
Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson, John Bacon
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