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Air Force Implements COVID-19 Screenings at Seattle Airport

May 12, 2020 | BY Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh

Every Air Force wing, squadron and unit has felt the effects of COVID-19 in one form or another. Airmen assigned to the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron operating out of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's Air Mobility Command passenger terminal have implemented  new procedures to ensure the safety of their workers and the passengers who are traveling during the pandemic.

All passengers traveling through any AMC terminal are now required to be medically screened before being allowed to fly. To fulfill the new screening requirements, the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron unit operating out of the airport requested assistance from fellow airmen located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington.

Airmen taking passengers’ temperatures.
Temperature Check
Air Force Senior Airman Kevin Gray II, a passenger service specialist with the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, takes the temperature of a passenger traveling to Asia at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, April 30, 2020. Passengers with a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher are denied travel as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh
VIRIN: 200430-F-ZC075-1056
An airman checks medical questionnaire paperwork.
Paperwork Completion
Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicole Mourik, a passenger service specialist with the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, checks the medical questionnaire paperwork for a passenger processing through the Air Mobility Command terminal at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, April 30, 2020. The 62nd Aerial Port Squadron implemented a new medical screening process to ensure the safety of passengers and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh
VIRIN: 200430-F-ZC075-1072

''For the first time in AMC history, we started conducting enhanced medical screening in partnership with the 62nd Medical Squadron with hopes of preventing the spread of this horrible virus while still enabling the Department of Defense's mission to continue throughout U.S. Indo-Pacific Command,'' said Air Force Master Sgt. Richard House, the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron contracting officer's representative. ''The secretary of defense's stop-movement [order] has dramatically reduced the number of passengers we receive and send, so that has to play a role in reducing the spread.''

Before passengers can check in for their flight, they must fill out a medical questionnaire and have their temperature checked to make sure they are healthy enough to travel. Passengers with a fever of 100.4 F or higher or who have been working at a medical facility, must be cleared by an on-site flight surgeon with the 62nd Medical Squadron before traveling.

A passenger hands over a medical questionnaire.
Medical Questionnaire
A passenger traveling to Asia hands a medical questionnaire to Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicole Mourik, a passenger service specialist with the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, April 30, 2020. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, passengers must answer questions about their current health, where they have traveled recently and whether they work in a medical facility.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh
VIRIN: 200430-F-ZC075-1068
Airmen conducting medical screenings.
Medical Screening
Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin Guris, an aerospace medical technician with the 62nd Medical Squadron, conducts a secondary medical screening on a passenger traveling to Asia at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, April 30, 2020. Secondary screenings are conducted for passengers who may be ill or work in a medical facility to ensure they have not contracted COVID-19.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh
VIRIN: 200430-F-ZC075-1098

''If a passenger is deemed unable to fly, we politely decline their travel, and it's usually a 14-day wait,'' said Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicole Mourik, a passenger service agent with the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron. ''We have had a couple people we had to turn down because they were coughing or sick and the flight surgeon delayed them.''

The number of AMC flights that depart from the airport has remained the same, but the amount of passengers has decreased by 50% to 75%. Despite this drop, the airmen who work there still have quite a large workload, House said.

''Due to ever-changing travel guidance and restrictions intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the amount of customer phone calls our passenger service agents are receiving is at an unprecedented level,'' House said. ''Ensuring accurate travel information to our service members and their families requires constant coordination and teamwork between our team and all service components.''

Passengers filling out medical questionnaires.
Medical Screening
Passengers traveling through the Air Mobility Command terminal fill out medical questionnaires at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, April 30, 2020. The questionnaires are part of a new screening process implemented by the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh
VIRIN: 200430-F-ZC075-1087
Passengers check in for their flights.
Flight Check In
Passengers check in for their flight at the Air Mobility Command terminal at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, April 30, 2020. All passengers traveling through the Air Mobility Command terminal are required to wear face masks and undergo a medical screening process by the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh
VIRIN: 200430-F-ZC075-1075

In addition to the screenings, all passengers traveling through the terminal must wear face masks, otherwise they will not be allowed to fly.

''Our team has screened 23 missions consisting of 1,121 passengers with no cases of COVID-19 traced back to our location,'' House said. ''The job they are doing is outstanding. To learn such a novel process and implement it in such a minimal amount of time is to be lauded. Their positive attitude, professionalism and eagerness to help us accomplish our mission at SeaTac can't be more appreciated.''

Anyone who is preparing to fly out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and has travel-related questions can call the AMC Passenger Terminal customer service number at (253) 982-3504 or monitor their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SeaTacAmcPassengerTerminal/ to stay current with travel restrictions related to this location.

(Air Force Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh is assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing.)