Travelers coming from Europe concerned by lack of coronavirus screening stateside


Passengers, some of them wearing masks, check flight status at Adolfo Suarez-Barajas international airport, outskirts Madrid, Spain, Thursday, March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — At the stroke of midnight, President Donald Trump’s 30-day travel ban to stop the spread of the coronavirus officially goes into effect. It only applies to foreigners but many Americans in Europe have been scrambling to fly back home.

As some of those Americans arrive back stateside, we’re learning some are surprised to be met with very little screening, if any at all.

Susan Thompson, of Lakeland, tracked her parents’ travels all day Friday. Ilene and John Kummer, also of Lakeland, are back in the Bay Area after flying home from Greece.

“My mom said the airport in Frankfurt was really chaotic with Americans trying to get home,” Thompson said.

But even with her parents, who are both in their 70s, back stateside she’s uneasy after learning they faced relatively no screening for the coronavirus.

The Kummers came through customs at JFK before connecting back to Tampa and say when they did, no one checked their temperature or asked how they were feeling.

“They were asked where were they, they said ‘Greece’ and it was ‘Okay, come on in,'” Thompson explained.

8 On Your Side asked a U.S. Customs spokesman point-blank if travelers flying in prior to the travel ban would be screened for coronavirus. We were told:

“Consistent with existing procedures to prevent the spread of communicable disease, travelers identified with symptoms may be provided with a mask and referred to CDC or EMS personnel for additional health screening.”

CPB added that “CBP has also issued sanitary guidance to its facilities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

“It just seems like we are letting anybody in no matter what,” Thompson said. “They could have lied.”

Thankfully, the Kummers are feeling well but have promised to self-quarantine at home for a week just in case.

“I’m going to push for the full two weeks,” Thompson laughed. “We’ll see.”

As the ban does not apply to American citizens, they will still be able to get back into the U.S. from Europe after the ban goes into effect.

However, they can only enter through 13 selected airports that were used to screen passengers from China beginning in February. Tampa International Airport is not one of them.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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