Denewsmay13 3 Figure
Denewsmay13 3 Figure
Denewsmay13 3 Figure
Denewsmay13 3 Figure
Denewsmay13 3 Figure

Air Force Medical Pros Guard Seattle Airport from COVID-19

May 12, 2020
Extensive medical screening and testing for COVID-19 has made possible safe air travel and movement of passengers through the SeaTac airport with tight control over the coronavirus.

Major airports around the world are reporting dramatically reduced air traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the medical emergency imposed by the coronavirus, air traffic volume is not expected to rise anytime soon, even during normal peak summer travel months. But for those traveling to and from Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac) International Airport and its Air Mobility Command (AMC) passenger terminal, the U.S. Air Force is there to help with screening and testing. In particular, airmen assigned to the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron operating out of SeaTac are there to help speed and boost the safety of travel through the airport, with assistance from fellow airmen from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, WA.

Passengers traveling through any AMC are required to undergo medically screening before being allowed to fly. To assist with ensuring that every AMC passenger through SeaTac is fully tested for the COVID-19 virus, help is recruited when needed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The rapid spread of the virus makes the screening necessary, according to Air Force Master Sargent Richard House, the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron contracting officer's representative: ''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.” Before passengers can even check in for a flight, they must complete a medical questionnaire and have their body temperature taken (a temperature of +100.4°F or higher is considered a fever) before they can be cleared for travel by an on-site flight surgeon.

The number of AMC flights through the airport has not changed compared to healthier times, but the number of people on these flights is about one-half of the normal totals. However, because of the time and effort to medical screen everyone, this still represents a large workload for the medical personnel. According to House: “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. Ensuring accurate travel information to our service members and their families requires constant coordination and teamwork between our team and all service components.” All passengers must wear face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. By working with the extended medical staffs, more than 1000 AMC passengers have traveled through the airport since the COVID-19 crisis began, with no additional cases of the coronavirus traced back to the airport.