Quarantine for flu epidemic set at airports
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Miami Herald (Miami's leading newspaper)
Posted: July 12th, 2009
Miami International Airport [MIA] and 18 other major American airports have been lined up to handle a future pandemic that could require them to quarantine international flights. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up stand-by quarantine/screening facilities at the 19 airports to which all flights from affected countries would be diverted. Nationally, airline and airport lobbyists predict chaos, saying there is no way the air-traffic system can handle such extensive rerouting. Now, new proposals are emerging in Washington, including one that would designate Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Orlando International and four other major airports as potential second-tier quarantine sites. Local officials say they understand the CDC will approve the new designations only if the airports pay for the quarantine facilities themselves. The CDC would pay for the quarantine stations at the 19 primary airports. The facilities are not cheap. A 2008 study by the Federal Aviation Administration concluded that setting aside space for health screenings and a quarantine of up to 200 people could cost $15,000 a month, with costs of an actual quarantine running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood officials began developing a plan to handle quarantined passengers and flights several years ago during the bird flu scare. It calls for erecting air-conditioned tents on the runway ramps to screen or quarantine passengers before they enter the terminal. Quarantined passengers might have to remain for days to show they are not infectious.