VING to Support Screening Protocols at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport

Adjutant General (VI) Kodjo Knox-Limbaker speaks to key personnel from Port Authority, VITEMA, CDC (the United States Public Health Service), PR Disaster Medical Assistance Team, the Department of Health, and Customs and Border Patrol strategizing a plan of action, April 1. (photo by Sgt. Tyiesha Benjamin Samuel)

On April 1, members of the Virgin Islands National Guard met at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport to discuss screening protocols for incoming passengers.

The protocols will provide additional measures to prevent further exposure and infections among the population. These Department of Health protocols consist of screening criteria established to identify passengers who could possibly be infected with the coronavirus.

“Due to the unknown status of the passengers, directly after offloading the aircraft, each passenger will fill out a checklist immediately,” said Col. Ivan Udell, director of operations.

After being evaluated using the screening checklist by an appropriate representative, the passenger will be instructed to contact the Department of Health Epidemiology COVID-19 Call Center if they present signs for concern.

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Those not exhibiting any symptoms will be instructed to depart the airport and follow the stay at home directives and monitor themselves for the next 14 days as the COVID-19 Health Alert indicates.

Brig. Gen. (VI) Kodjo S. Knox-Limbacker, the adjutant general, along with key personnel, war-gamed the strategy with other agencies to man, resource, properly configure and secure testing sites.  Each local and federal government agency conveys methods to maintain crowd control, and facilitate a smooth operation.

A rehearsal of concept was conducted to include possible scenarios and resolutions. “It is a process that is still in planning motion; however, as we go along, we will devise plans to make it better,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Kent Bellot, state command sergeant major.

“We recently had a sufficient amount of supplies delivered today and are currently awaiting the electronic scanners. In the near future, we should be able to have our equipment set up to scan crowds as they come off the plane to detect temperatures of passengers as they offload more quickly,” said Limbacker.

Numbers of those infected may be dwindling; however, these precautions are necessary strides in keeping the U.S. Virgin Islands safe.

Agency partners in attendance were the Virgin Islands Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, Virgin Islands Port Authority, Puerto Rico Disaster Medical Assistant Team, United States Customs and Border Protection, and Airport Operations.

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