O’Hare will be among five international airports in the United States to begin taking temperatures of travelers from West Africa in response to the growing Ebola epidemic.
The New York Times describes the screening process as “taking the passengers’ temperatures with a gun-like, noncontact thermometer” in addition to requiring them to fill out a questionnaire.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon, saying the additional layer of protection would begin at international airports in New York, Newark, Washington Dulles and Atlanta in addition to Chicago.
Passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – the three nations hardest hit by Ebola – will be targeted for screening. The five airports account for 94% of individuals arriving from those three nations, according to Earnest. An estimated 150 people a day would be checked under the new procedures.
“These measures are really just belt-and-suspenders — it’s an added layer of protection on top of the procedures already in place at several airports,” President Obama told state and local officials in a teleconference call Wednesday.
Earlier Wednesday, Aldermen Burke and Zalewski proposed screening facilities at O’Hare to test for a broad range of infection diseases.
Separately, Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Customs and Border Protection agents are handing out information sheets to travelers with details of what symptoms to look for and directions to call doctors if they become sick within 21 days — the incubation period for Ebola.
The fact sheet to be given to arriving travelers says: “You were given this card because you arrived to the United States from a country with Ebola.” It tells passengers to “please watch your health for the next 21 days” and to “take your temperature every morning and evening, and watch for symptoms of Ebola,” which are listed on the sheet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.