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Puerto Rico Guard screens airport passengers for COVID-19

More than 280 Airmen and Soldiers, assigned to the Puerto Rico National Guard are working alongside the Department of Health and other state and federal agencies to screen passengers arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico, to detect any suspected case of COVID-19 and avoid more infections, March 17, 2020. (Photo by Puerto Rico National Guard)

More than 280 Airmen and Soldiers, assigned to the Puerto Rico National Guard are working alongside the Department of Health and other state and federal agencies to screen passengers arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico, to detect any suspected case of COVID-19 and avoid more infections, March 17, 2020. (Photo by Puerto Rico National Guard)

FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico -- The Puerto Rico National Guard is screening passengers arriving at the island's main airport to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

More than 280 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard are assigned to terminals A, B and C at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, taking the temperature of every arriving passenger and asking about their health. People with a temperature of 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit or more are referred to the Department of Health for medical evaluation.

Guard members were evaluated before beginning the operation.

"This process involves a rigorous medical evaluation and consultation with health professionals who have answered our staff's questions and concerns about COVID-19 and its implications," said Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, adjutant general of Puerto Rico.

Medical students from the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, the Central Caribbean University of Bayamón, the Ponce School of Medicine, and the San Juan Bautista School of Medicine, are collaborating with the PRNG in the passenger evaluation process. The number of Guard members participating in the coronavirus screening is expected to rise to 500 in coming days.

"This responsibility is not only of the Puerto Rico National Guard, or the government, but it is also the responsibility of everyone on our island," Reyes said. "We have a population, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, and grandmothers, who are vulnerable to COVID-19, and we must protect them at all costs.

"This mission is new, unique to our National Guard," he said. "However, our Soldiers and Airmen have the discipline, professionalism, and commitment to carry out this task and ensure the health and well-being of our citizens."

Normally, 8,000 to 13,000 people arrive at the airport each day, according to employees of Aerostar, the company that manages airport facilities.

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