In a time when thousands, potentially millions of lives depend on preventing the spread of a deadly pathogen, it would be reasonable to assume that the largest airport in the world would be the site of some of the most intense containment efforts — or at least some containment efforts.
However, according to a recent investigation conducted by VICE Magazine, this assumption would be incorrect. Interviewed passengers reported “breezing through” airport security without receiving health screenings, even when arriving from high-risk parts of the world and showing visible symptoms. Some said they were asked about their travel to China, but not to other high-risk areas. Some said airport personnel gave them self-reporting forms but did not review their answers, and some received no forms at all.
Atlanta’s Travel Hub Is Key to Fulfilling the U.S’s Commitments to Its Residents and the World
The idea that Hartsfield-Jackson should be at the forefront of combating COVID-19 isn’t just common sense; it’s a promise that has been repeatedly made to the American people, and apparently utterly broken.
On March 12th, the third official day of the global pandemic, Hartsfield-Jackson was named one of 11 airports around the country that were to be set up for “enhanced health screening.” Starting on the next day, travel from high-risk European countries would be limited to U.S residents returning home, and these returning residents would have to be re-routed to one of these designated airports for screening.
In a press briefing on March 15th, Vice President Pence reinforced this claim of precautions being taken, saying the government is “working diligently in [regard to airport health screenings] to put the safety of the American public first.”
Hartsfield-Jackson itself also promises on its website that it is intensifying its cleaning and disinfecting protocols and engaging in “daily coordination with public health, CDC, and other agencies for updates, additional guidance, and instructions.” Yet on the same page, it advises travelers to bring their own disinfectant wipes to clean their seating areas on their flights, and notes that hand sanitizer will be sold, not provided.
From the ground level, it seems that, while travelers are indeed being rerouted hours out of their way, the promise of enhanced health screening when they arrive is a lie.
Lax Quarantine Procedures Will Raise the Death Toll
Preventing the spread of a virus like COVID-19 is a tremendous task, but necessary and far from impossible. Some of the parts of the world that have fared the best against the longest odds, like Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, are those that instituted screening and quarantine procedures quickly and thoroughly in their travel hubs. All three of these places see large-scale traffic to and from mainland China, especially during Lunar New Year, when the first outbreak struck. They were also all affected by the SARS outbreak in 2003, and used the containment techniques they’d previously developed in order to keep their infection rates much lower than less prepared parts of the world.
The indifference and irresponsibility of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is placing the U.S in harm’s way on an ongoing basis, and people will continue to get sick and die in higher numbers because of it.
If you or someone you love is injured in an accident at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport during this global crisis, or at any time, The Stoddard Firm can help.