Clad in protective face masks, gloves and eyewear, Hawaii National Guard soldiers used infrared thermometers to take arriving passengers’ temperatures at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.
More than 100 soldiers of the Hawaii National Guard Task Force and four units of the Hawaii Army National Guard began screening arriving and departing passengers at Hawaii’s airports to assist the state Department of Transportation.
Infrared thermometers measure heat from a distance by sensing infrared light radiated from a person’s skin.
In a statement, Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi Jr., Joint Task Force Commander of the Hawaii National Guard, said, “Our Hawaii National Guardsmen are on the frontlines in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.”
“The public will see us in the airports in every county and we will continue to support the counties in other areas. We are proud to support the Hawaii State Department of Transportation during this time and appreciate the community doing their part to stay at home,” he added.
There are approximately 60 soldiers assigned to the Honolulu airport, 30 at the Kahului Airport, 30 at Ellison Onizuka International Airport on Hawaii island and 10 at Lihue Airport.
National Guard soldiers took temperatures of passengers at arrival gates and TSA security checkpoints to determine whether anyone was in need of additional medical screening. Patients afflicted with the novel coronavirus have had fevers as high as 104 degrees.
Sgt. Taylor Kiaha of the 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry, Hawaii National Guard, said, “I’m just glad we get to be here and help Hawaii during this time. I know the first responders and medical professionals need help and time right now, and we can provide that with our assistance in any way.”
Transportation personnel are also checking temperatures of flight crews.
“HDOT is grateful for the help and support of the Hawaii National Guard members who are working to keep the public safe at our airports and in the |community,” said Transportation Director Jade Butay.
Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara noted domestic and international passenger volume is down 99%. There were 299 passenger arrivals Saturday compared with 28,202 passenger arrivals on the same day last year. “It’s remarkable how few people there are at the airport.”
What’s more, there were no international passenger arrivals in Hawaii on Thursday.
On March 26, Gov. David Ige mandated all arriving passengers to self-quarantine for 14 days. Violators face penalties of up to a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
Arriving passengers include college students returning home due to class cancellations and individuals laid off from their jobs who are returning to the isles to stay with family.