TSA Now Finalizing Plan to Check Passenger Temperatures at Several Airports Nationwide, Lagging Far Behind Other Nations

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could soon start checking passenger's temperatures in roughly a dozen airports nationwide in order to detect possible coronavirus infections, according to reports.

The change, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, could take place as soon as next week as officials work to help combat the spread of the virus.

People familiar with the matter told the Journal that details of the plan are under review by the White House and are subject to change. It is also not known what airports will be used to test the new scanning procedures.

According to a White House official, the initial plan will cost less than $20 million to implement and passengers will not be charged to have their temperature checked.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the agency downplayed the reports, saying, "At this time, no decision has been made regarding specific health screening measures at airports.

"Ongoing discussions with our (Department of Homeland Security) and interagency colleagues, as well as our airport and airline partners, will enable the agency to make informed decisions with regard to the health and safety of the aviation environment. The safety and security of the traveling public and our employees will always be our top priority," the spokesperson said.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, also spoke out at the claims, saying that he cannot find any law that gives TSA the authority to perform temperature checks.

"The health and safety of our Transportation Security Officers have already been put at great risk the past few months—the Administration should not put these frontline workers in further danger in order to provide passengers a potential false sense of safety," Thompson said in a statement. "Any measures put in place should be based on the guidance of medical officials, not a desire to restart the economy at the expense of public health."

TSA Administrator David Pekoske previously said no decision had been made regarding temperature checks of passengers at airports as the agency announced that airport security officers will be required to wear masks in screening areas.

"It's been a discussion that's been ongoing for several weeks now," Pekoske told Reuters.

Several international airlines including Air France, Singapore Airlines and Air Canada have already announced that they are implementing temperature checks for travelers.

Countries such as India, China, South Korea and Russia have already implemented screening procedures from arrivals from certain places.

Earlier this month, Frontier Airlines became the first U.S. based airline to announce that it would be bringing in mandatory temperature checks on passengers prior to boarding.

A Chile's Health Ministry worker monitors a screen of a thermal scanner to check body temperature of a passenger before boarding a flight at Santiago International Airport, in Santiago, on April 20, 2020 MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty