On Oct. 11, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs & Border Protection (CBP) commenced screening for the Ebola virus at select U.S. airports. Starting with New York’s JFK Airport, all travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will now undergo enhanced entry screening in an effort to detect overt signs of the deadly illness. This week, Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago O-Hare and Atlanta International airports will follow suit. These five airports receive over 94 percent of travelers from the Ebola-affected nations.
Since there are no direct flights from the affected countries, CBP staff will identify passengers to screen by looking at trip information and checking passports. After passport review, the Ebola screening process will be as follows:
• Travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will be escorted by CBP to an area of the airport set aside for screening.
• Trained CBP staff will observe the travelers for signs of illness, ask them a series of health and exposure questions, provide health information about Ebola and remind travelers to monitor themselves for symptoms. Trained medical staff will then take the travelers’ temperatures with a non-contact thermometer (infrared temperature gun).
• If the travelers have fever, symptoms, or if a health questionnaire reveals possible Ebola exposure, the travelers will be evaluated by a CDC quarantine station public health officer. The public health officer will again take a temperature reading and make a public health assessment. Assessed travelers who are determined to require further evaluation or monitoring will be referred to the appropriate public health authority.
• Travelers from these countries who have neither symptoms/fever nor a known history of exposure will receive health information for self-monitoring.
Travelers who are subject to additional screening represent only 1 percent of the people who travel annually to the U.S. Because the additional screening will take place in a separate area, it will not hold up immigration lines.
Recently, the head of the CDC rejected lawmakers’ calls to ban travelers from three West African nations gripped by the Ebola outbreak. Thus, if you or your loved ones are from one of these nations and would like to pursue U.S. visa options, you are certainly not precluded from doing so. Berardi Immigration Law is happy to assist you with your immigration matters. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.