The CDC Admits I Was Right (And They Were Wrong) About Airport Screening

by SharonKurheg

Vindication! 😉

The CDC has enjoyed over 70 years of being the world’s most admired public health agency in the world. It played a role in our success against polio, smallpox, and just about every other disease and virus out there. However, 2020 has been an awful year for the CDC and its response to the coronavirus pandemic. From The Washington Post (read the whole article – it’s a good one!):

The agency’s response to the worst public health crisis in a century — the coronavirus pandemic — has been marked by technical blunders and botched messaging. The agency has endured false accusations and interference by Trump administration political appointees. Worst of all, the CDC has experienced a loss of institutional credibility at a time when the nation desperately needs to know whom to trust.

Anyway, back in the early days of COVID-19, when we didn’t know nearly as much as we do now, the CDC, in conjunction with the Dep’t of Homeland Security (DHS) started setting up enhanced screening at select airports.

At first, they only screened people traveling from Wuhan, China but it was eventually expanded to include anyone coming from mainland China and multiple countries in Europe and the Middle East.

The screening process included:

  • Travelers from the identified countries were pulled aside for further screening.
  • Those who had been pulled aside had to undergo an initial screening process that included being scanned with a non-contact infrared thermometer (the “magic number” was 100.4°F/38°C or more). Screeners also looked for other symptoms associated with the disease. Passengers also had to answer a health questionnaire that asked about symptoms and exposure in the previous 24 hours.
  • Those who fit the criteria to be assessed even more were transferred to the public health system for further testing and potential quarantine.

The CDC’s statistics revealed that of the 766,044 travelers screened between January 17 and September 13, 2020, only 298 were referred for additional checks, and only 40 of those were medically evaluated. 35 of the 40 took a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test; only 9 of them (0.001%) tested positive for COVID.

So 9 out of roughly 3/4 of a million wound up testing positive. Good stats.

Now again, the main thing the CDC and DHS were looking for, besides symptoms and exposure in the past 24 hours, was if someone demonstrated a fever of 100.4 or higher. They obviously hadn’t read my article from May, which was written in response to when Hawaii was considering spending $36 million on walk-through temperature scanners, and what a waste of money I thought it would be. And they most definitely didn’t read Joe’s post a few months later, which explained why temperature checks aren’t the answer for safe flying.

Anyway, the CDC and DHS discontinued the special screening on September 14, 2020 – they obviously read our posts by that point and that, along with everyone they had screened, helped them put 2+2 together: many travelers who were positive for the virus were either asymptomatic (showed no symptoms), or presymptomatic (showed no symptoms YET) and checking them for a fever was a waste of time.

On top of that, just as I let them know in that Hawaii post, COVID symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other maladies – colds, allergies, etc. They also noted that some passengers lied about their screening answers and/or took medication to mask their symptoms in order to pass the screening test (just like Joe had said, months ago).

So now the CDC is focusing more on pre-travel testing 72 hours before departure, instead of temperature checks and self-reporting that, as we said, are worthless.

I’m so glad Joe and I could help them 😉

Here’s the CDC’s report about what they did, how they listened to me, and what they recommend now.

OK, maybe not the “listened to be” part…;-)

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#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


George December 8, 2020 - 9:49 am

The CDC has now been relegated to the level of respect as other government agencies with 3 letter acronyms.

Truly awful response, working to scare people and turn a pandemic into a disaster.

Anyone who believes any government data / decrees anymore, does so at their own risk.

derek December 8, 2020 - 10:59 am

I disagree with George (above). The key is to read beyond the headlines. For example, masks. The CDC recognizes that N95 masks work and that surgical masks are great but not as good as N95. However, there is a shortage of N95 masks in hospitals so there’s not enough for the public. But the surgical mask shortage is ending this month according to projections so the public should stop these poorly effective homemade bandanas and start wearing surgical masks.


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