Airlines threatened with fines if they don't provide foreign passenger data to CDC: report

Airlines threatened with fines if they don't provide foreign passenger data to CDC: report
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The Trump administration has reportedly threatened airlines with fines unless they expand the types of data they collect on passengers to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Airlines have pushed back, saying they cannot immediately supply all the requested data, which some administration officials have said they don’t believe, CNN reports, citing three sources familiar with recent calls between airlines and government agencies.

One source told the network that officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have threatened recommending the White House order planes grounded in the U.S. if they do not provide the data.

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The spread of coronavirus has been exacerbated by air travel, with infections present in at least 93 countries as of Monday, and the industry stands to lose more than $100 billion unless the spread of the virus is curtailed.

Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenDemocratic lawmaker calls for stronger focus on trade leverage to raise standards The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden, Harris's first day as running mates MORE (D-Wash.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, said airlines are left with few options, adding “If the focus is doing it exactly the way the administration wants, it will be a long negotiation.”

The "airlines don't have all the information the CDC wants," Larsen added.

Shortly after the White House imposed travel restrictions on foreign nationals who had been to China in the preceding two weeks, the administration demanded the airlines collect data on whether travelers had visited China in the last 48 hours, with executives responding that they lack the technology to collect the answers digitally and that they would have to either use paper or wait six months to upgrade the technology.

An official from the CDC accused the airlines of lying in response, according to CNN, and officials told the airlines they would face fines of up to $250,000 unless they comply by mid-March.

"There were several calls between the airlines and the US government about this new data collection process, which was initiated in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak," a CDC official told the network.

"We understand that any new process can be challenging to implement quickly, which is why the rule is currently open for public comment. Airlines have been encouraged to provide feedback through that public comment process,” the official added.

The Hill has reached out to the CDC and the White House for comment.