Large-scale plans for contact tracing international airline passengers entering the United States have been officially delayed. You may remember that the White House began working on an ambitious plan requiring airlines to perform contact tracing on international travelers bound for the United States earlier in the summer. However, new reports coming out of Washington are revealing that those plans have likely been scrapped until at least 2021. The initial anticipated launch date for the program was Sept. 1. It is uncertain at the moment if a large-scale effort to contact trace international passengers will actually get off the ground before a COVID-19 vaccine is available.
White House officials, airline executives and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been in talks for months regarding a plan that will mandate collection and reporting of contact tracing information for passengers arriving from outside the country. Airlines have generally been receptive to the idea of using contact tracing as a part of safely increasing air travel to and from more destinations after months of severely reduced capacity.
'We believe contact tracing is a key measure that will instill confidence for the traveling public that airlines and the federal government are prioritizing their health and safety,' shared a spokesperson for a trade group called Airlines for America. Most airlines in the United States are represented by Airlines for America. Many larger airlines are specifically throwing their support behind the idea of using a website or mobile application that allows passengers to send information directly to the CDC. However, the future of any type of program is uncertain as we move into the fall travel season.