Ms. Malin said that as of March 4, more than 63,000 travelers at airports, seaports and the land border had been referred by a Customs and Border Protection officer for a health screening. Mr. Cuccinelli said last week at a Senate homeland security hearing that the screenings had been successful at slowing the outbreak.
“It bought us time,” Mr. Cuccinelli said.
In addition to barring foreigners from 26 European countries, President Trump’s new travel restrictions will funnel Americans to designated airports in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Virginia, Detroit, Dallas, Newark, Boston and Miami. The travelers will be subjected to enhanced health screenings, according to a federal register notice published on Friday.
The crush of Americans returning from Europe will make those screenings that much harder.
Tony Reardon, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents officers from the section of Customs and Border Protection that conducts screening at airports in the United States, said officers were concerned about travelers not being truthful, or not knowing, about their symptoms.
“They are worried about the imprecise distinctions on when travelers may be contagious,” Mr. Reardon said. “They are also worried about whether all passengers who are at risk based on their travel history are being properly flagged for screening.”
Senior officials with Customs and Border Protection, speaking to reporters on Friday on a conference call, highlighted the medical safeguards enforced for its workers. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the agency had medical officials ready to answer officers’ questions and protective equipment such as masks for employees. The agency is also using surveillance video to backtrack the movements of any traveler who passed through an airport and later developed symptoms of the coronavirus to determine if any officers were exposed.
The officials declined to provide the number of employees who have been tested or confirmed to have the disease.