The airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will conduct mandatory coronavirus screenings for all outbound passengers starting on Monday, one of the first airports in the country to take advantage of a decision to allow such evaluations by the Federal Aviation Administration last month.
Under the new “Travel Well” program, the Eastern Iowa Airport will ask a handful of short screening questions and take the temperature of each departing passenger. Travelers who show no signs of having the coronavirus and have no exposure to it will be sent on to the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint.
“The Travel Well program will provide an efficient approach to screening passengers and employees,” Marty Lenss, the airport’s director, said in a statement.
Travelers who might be infected with or exposed to the virus will receive a private second screening. The ultimate decision on whether individuals may board their flight will rest with individual airlines. Eastern Iowa Airport offers nonstop service to 14 destinations on flights operated by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and others.
It is not clear how useful the screenings will be. The value of screening passengers has diminished as the virus has become widespread throughout the country. A passenger who shows no symptoms on the day of travel could still infect others on their journey or at their destination.
The airport had first talked about its screening plan, which it developed with Mercy Medical Center and MercyCare Business Health Solutions, in July. But the plan’s implementation was put on hold pending approval by the F.A.A., which regulates airport spending. Earlier last year, the agency had said that airports could spend money to screen employees, but not passengers. In December, the agency approved passenger screening, too.
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