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Orlando airport looking at isolating, screening passengers after they arrive.

Orlando International Airport and health officials, transportation, and National Guard officials are talking Tuesday about what to do with the thousands of people who fly in every day from the three states Gov. Ron DeSantis is red-lining because of the new coronavirus outbreak: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

The airport might wind up screening them when they get off the planes, and isolating them in a room for processing.

DeSantis on Monday ordered that visitors from those three states undergo 14 days of quarantine or self isolation, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is particularly rampant in those states.

Orlando airport officials are looking at whether they have the responsibility and ability to begin that when people step off the planes.

Orlando is expecting 45 flights just Tuesday from those three states, with perhaps 3,000 passengers.

Orlando Airport officials indicated that 45 flights is far and away the most of any airport in Florida. Those three states account for approximately 15 percent of Orlando’s passenger counts, officials said.

Last year, Orlando welcomed the arrival of about 25 million airline passengers.

“In announcing the order, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault requested that airports provide space for the processing by Florida Department of Health officials in coordination with law enforcement officers who will assist,” the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which operates Orlando International Airport, stated in a news release. “In a conversation with FDOT administration and airport executives from across the state, a discussion was held on how to best implement the order.

“Airport leaders are currently coordinating with state health officials and the National Guard to finalize actions necessary to enforce the order,” the news release stated.

According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, New York has more than 23,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday; New Jersey more than 2,800; and Connecticut more than 400.

Florida has more than 1,400.

“We support Gov. DeSantis’ order as a means to implement measures that promote the safety, security and health of our passengers and employees,” GOAA Chief Executive Officer Phil Brown stated in the release. “For our part, we mobilized quickly overnight to accommodate the executive order and are prepared to work with the Department of Health in screening passengers as they arrive in Orlando.”

Orlando does not have a quarantine station.

Said DeSantis on Monday: “It is actually a criminal offense if you violate the quarantine orders, so people can be held accountable here in the State of Florida if they buck the law.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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