US Immigration Forced Me To Put On A Face Mask

Filed Under: Travel

This is not intended to be a complaint, or a criticism of their procedure (well, other than one minor point). Rather it’s just an interesting firsthand experience of how US immigration seems to be handling those who have been to Asia recently (and in my case by “recently” I mean about six weeks ago)…

My previous experience getting secondary with Global Entry

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my experience getting secondary screening at US immigration when entering at Fort Lauderdale. I have Global Entry, but for the first time ever there was a big “X” on my Global Entry slip, so I had to go through quite a process.

I had been to Asia several weeks before that, but in the case of that trip was just returning from Cancun. I was curious if this was a one-off, or would become something consistent.

I don’t want to rehash all of that here, so check out my previous post for more context.

And I get it again, this time with a forced face mask…

Yesterday Ford and I were flying from Managua to Miami, and upon landing in Miami I headed to a Global Entry kiosk, and got the following printout:

Rats!

I went up to an officer, and the conversation went something like this:

“Have you traveled to China recently?”
“I connected through Taiwan in late January, about six weeks ago.”
“Okay, I need to get you a face mask first.”

The officer proceeded to go to a bunch of different stations to find me a face mask — most were out, but he managed to find one after looking at probably six different stations. Go figure he touched it without sanitizing his hands or anything — who knows how many peoples’ travel documents he had touched at this point, and now that was going to be in direct contact with my face.

The conversation continued when he returned:

“Do I have to wear this face mask? To be clear, I’m not sick and am not returning from somewhere with a lot of cases.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules, but I get in trouble if you don’t.”
“I’ve had this now for two entries in a row, do you know if I’m getting the ‘X’ on the form because I traveled through Asia, or…?”
“Yeah, it says you’ve been to China, that’s why.”
“Got it. I know you’re just doing your job, but that seems weird, because that was six weeks ago, so if I’m not showing signs at this point…”

The officer then proceeded to escort me to the secondary screening room while wearing a mask. I don’t want to exaggerate, but I suspect I would have had fewer looks having a public, openly gay wedding in Saudi Arabia.

In Miami almost no one wears face masks, and when you’re being escorted by an immigration officer to a secondary facility while being basically the only person wearing a face mask, everyone basically looks at you like you’re patient zero. We were walking “upstream,” and everyone walking by tried to get as much separation from me as possible.

At that point I was sitting in the secondary facility, and oddly I was the only person wearing a face mask. I tried to sit as far from everyone else as possible, because I noticed I was making others uncomfortable. There was a little kid running around the area, and when he got near me the mom grabbed him so he wouldn’t get closer.

I had another conversation with an officer there:

“You’ve been to China recently?”
“Well, not mainland China, but I connected in Taiwan about six weeks ago, but I haven’t been to Asia since.”
“So you haven’t been to China?”
“No, not mainland China since last year.”
“Why were you in Taiwan?”
“I’m a travel writer and I review airlines, and there’s a new airline there that just started operations, and I wanted to review them.”
“Taiwan has an airline?”
“Yes, they have several airlines…”

The conversation continued to veer off topic a bit (I’m always 100% honest with immigration officers, and if anything try to overshare so they can tell I’m being sincere and not trying to hide anything). He entered a bunch of information into the computer, and was friendly and clearly just doing his job.

While he was doing this I decided to ask a follow-up question:

“I’m just wondering, is there anything I can do so this doesn’t happen again the next time I enter the country? I know you’re just doing your job and I’m somehow flagged, but I haven’t been to Asia in six weeks, which is well beyond the detection period…”
“It’s the CDC, there’s nothing I can do.”

I was sent on my way within about 15 minutes…

Bottom line

I totally recognize the challenges the government (including CBP and the CDC) face in trying to stop the spread of coronavirus. I don’t necessarily take issue with any of this, though I do have a few thoughts:

  • Ideally they’d have a better method for distributing face masks, rather than having an officer who has probably handled hundreds of travel documents without washing his hands handing one to me
  • I’m curious if I’m just randomly flagged for this, or what; I know for a fact many people who have been to Asia (including mainland China) more recently than me aren’t flagged, so…
  • I wonder for how many more entries I’ll go through this process…
  • Is this the system working as intended? In other words, are they intending to stop people six weeks or more after they’ve been to Asia, does the system not care when you’ve actually been to Asia, or..?

Anyone have any similar experiences to share, or any theories as to how long this will last?

Comments
  1. Just get your own damn mask for immigration, even if just for show. You travel enough to justify it anyway.

  2. Left China end of Jan. The last two times I arrived into EWR, a CBP officer waited at the aircraft door to take me straight to secondary. But the process was even faster than global entry since apparently they have everything ready just needed my verbal confirmation that I haven’t been to China in the past 14 days.

  3. That’s unfortunate.

    The CDC has seriously dropped the ball on this entire situation. And situations like this honestly make it worse because the entire procedure you described is terribly ineffective. Experiences like this also sow distrust. Then, when time comes that actual effective measures are in place, the trust is often so corroded that the general public won’t bother listening. We see that happen quite often with numerous other healthcare matters unrelated to the current crisis.

    Hopefully the FAA and CDC and whomever else gets it together because this is just a mess in the US right now.

  4. Ban, everyone should wear a face mask now no matter you are sick or not. Just like people don’t just wear condom for sex when they are sick. It’s a prevention. The government can’t and won’t tell people to wear mask is just because there is not enough mask supplies.

  5. Look at Taiwan then, 45 cases. Vietnam, 18 cases, Macao, 10 cases.
    Hong Kong ticked only to 150 cases even their government is doing nothing.

    All of them are located just next to China, the epicenter of the crisis.

    One thing in common for them? All of them wear a mask out.
    Good Luck you guys

  6. Meanwhile in the last 3 weeks I have visited and transited SIN, LGK, KUL, & HKG & JFK. The only station that didn’t take our temperature or question us was JFK. And that was after a CX nonstop from HKG.

  7. Absolutely terrible procedure. The handling of the mask subjects all parties to more germs and a greater chance of infection. This for sure would not be correct CDC guidance. Someone at DHS has screwed this up royally. The immigration officers should all be wearing gloves as well.

  8. This is rising to the level where you should probably call your Congressman’s office. Tell them that you’re being unreasonably subjected to additional screening by CBP, unable to use the Global Entry benefits you paid good money for, over a subjective CDC decision that everyone who ever transited through Asia 6 weeks ago, well beyond their own published detection windows.

    The process isn’t a fast one, but you’d be surprised the kind of mountains that your Congressional offices can move with executive agencies to remove you from whatever dumb list you’re on.

  9. OMG – next time I fly I’m going to where a mask and may just “fake” cough a bit. Then I’ll get all the privacy I want. I can only imagine what that looked like for you. You should have over-embellished it and started to hack all over the place under that mask.

    There is an article in mainstream media regarding a United Flight that had a ruckus because a passenger had an allergy and other passengers were getting upset and were crying Corona. It emergency landed in Denver – for basically nothing. America at our finest!

  10. Just like the people in Asia, you put on your face mask doesn’t mean you’re sick. It’s a respect for your fellow passengers and yourself…

  11. FYI your beloved Taiwan block many foreigner’s entry, deliver free masks to their citizens, encourage people to put on.

    That’s why they have only 50 cases locating right next to China.

  12. I would say you will get flagged for the foreseeable future. Be prepared. You are my only data point that confirm the possibility of repeatedly being flagged because others never left US for the 2nd time.

    Your travel history can’t be changed.
    From gathering some data points, your travel patterns raises alarm because you don’t travel like most people. These might be the reasons. You had one way tickets, you went close to high risk country, etc. Most people would have round trip flights out of US. Possibly this goes way back to See/Oct of last year or maybe 6 months.

  13. and Taiwan is not part of China, no need to clarify that you’ve only been to Taiwan, but not Mainland.

  14. The dotards regime crippled the CDC early on and is now truying to use it for further corruption by not making cornovirus tests available and forced underreporting becasue the dotard wants to stqy in power at any costs!!!!!!!!1!

    His trategy with the pandemic is “think good things and buy stock while your 401K is TANKIKNG!!!!!!!!!!

    VOTE THE DOTARD OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!f CORRUPT TO THE CORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND STUPID!!!!!!!

  15. @Richardo
    “Face mask don’t protect you from getting the virus” People are so ignorant and stupid. If the mask can’t protect you from getting the virus, then why health care providers have to wear a mask? Why don’t you them not do wear a mask when they are trying to save you who is infected!!!!

  16. Can you arrange an public, openly gay wedding in Saudi Arabia? It would be great to see the Saudi’s reactions.

  17. IMO East Asia has long had a sort of hysteria around face masks, starting with Japan and closely followed by Taiwan. People LIKE TO wear masks even when they’re not sick, e.g. when they simply don’t feel like showing you their full face.

    My problem is a lot of these people who proactively wear masks aren’t even sick. Whether now or in peaceful times, they’re doing it based on an irrational “ewww all those other humans are DIRTY” response. Oh, so they can’t touch anything because it’s all very dirty, so they probably end up being the ones who trash and mess up public bathrooms, and noone after them can have a clean toilet to use.

    Everyday in these parts of the world now, you can see people wear masks out of fear BUT also rendering masks useless with their habits. Pulling it down for phone calls, bubble tea, touching the inside and outside. Tossing them out on the streets. Blissfully ignoring the medical advice that masks won’t really stop the virus from coming into you (its purpose is the other way round).

    I’ve said all this because, hey look, the mask strikes again. Insisted on irrationally, but as Lucky’s pointed out, not even handled correctly. Sad to see this is the truth of humanity.

  18. Does anyone know if it’s recent travel to anywhere in Asia (e.g. Japan) or just to China/Taiwan that’s causing these CBP flags?

  19. Surgical face masks are worn by medical professionals to protect the PATIENT from infections via bacteria in respiratory droplets, most commonly during procedures since the skin is violated and droplets could get in the wound.

    N95 respirators, which is NOT what most people wear, filter droplets and aerosols and protect the wearer.

    Coronavirus is spread outward via droplets, but is largely contracted by physically touching a surface covered in droplets, then touching your eyes/nose/mouth.

    In summary, people who do not have the virus and wear face masks get little to no benefit

  20. That’s outrageous he made you put on a face mask handled incorrectly! You are young so you will be ok regardless, but I know there are others you don’t want to put at risk.

  21. Face masks don’t do much of anything to protect you, although they may protect others if you are sneezing since it is the water droplets from sneezing, coughing, etc. that get on people or desks, etc. and then gets on people.

    It is one reason why there was a recommendation to stay 1 meter away from people since the droplets tend to fall to the ground in less than a meter. And on surfaces, they can survive days.

    For a face mask to protect you, it has to be a heavy duty one and not some paper mask, you can read about that most anywhere respectable.

  22. @ Fernando +1

    Don’t be complicit in this creeping attempt at colonising Taiwan: “mainland China” implies that Taiwan is a part of China. It is not.

    So, when CBP asks if you’ve been to China, just say “no”.

  23. You are not being randomly flagged. Twice in a row? Not a chance its random. You are on some list now.

  24. Ben, since you always travel around the world all the time, wouldn’t it be a good time to maybe cut back on the international travel? I only say that because if this is your second time having this issue when going abroad, I think it will happen every time you return back to the US.

    Not trying to be rude btw.

  25. I am reminded of a rather complimentary CBSA officer at YYZ when they hard I was flying back from SIN via SFO. “You mean Singapore is next to two other countries you could explore?”

    It was probably less bleh than “Taiwan has airlines?!?” but I found it cute from a border control officer and their… sense of geography.

  26. Really sorry this happened. On the bright side at least you got a free face mask, which I believe is sold out right now.
    Take care of yourself and hopefully this experience won’t stop you from traveling.

  27. “In Miami, almost no one wears face masks, and when you’re being escorted by an immigration officer to a secondary facility while being basically the only person wearing a face mask, everyone basically looks at you like you’re patient zero. We were walking “upstream,” and everyone walking by tried to get as much separation from me as possible.”

    Sorry, but I laughed out loud at this. I can only imagine the fear people had. You should have done some good trolling and coughed and sneezed too (OK, not really).

  28. “if anything try to overshare so they can tell I’m being sincere and not trying to hide anything”

    I answer the questions asked.

    By the way if you’re ever asked to answer questions by police rather than CBP, decline. https://youtu.be/d-7o9xYp7eE

  29. If they have your passport information shouldn’t they already know when you’ve last been to China? Just saying. It’s 2020, we can do better.

  30. One you get the X… you will keep getting it. It doesn’t really go away… You are flagged (whatever be the reason) and the kiosk will spit out the X. Now whether you go to secondary inspection is up to the immigration officer at the primary checkpoint. In my case, I’m usually waived through but a month ago in another arrival city the primary officer was gruff and sent me to secondary (where the guy was the nicest, asked me a question and sent me away).

    Getting the flag off your global entry record is quite difficult (I’ve tried). Maybe when this things settles down you can ask it to be taken off your record – till then the kiosk will always spit out X and then it’s up to the immigration officer.

  31. This is ridiculous. I’m sorry, but one of the most annoying things in the US is when you have an issue (anywhere) and 9 times out of 10, the person puts their hands up and says “Sorry, I just work here” or words to that effect. Doesn’t anybody have any autonomy over their own areas there?

  32. “Is this the system working as intended?”

    Your question assumes there is some kind of intention behind the system, which seems a bit generous.

  33. maybe you should stop flying to all these random places for a while, buy a N95 mask, and lay low, maybe stick to domestic travel?

  34. @ schar — I’ve only traveled to Cancun and Managua since this got serious globally. You think those are higher risk than domestic?

  35. i think for western culture to be clean is difficult. If you complain about someone touching your mask without glove, how about wearing shoes in your house and wear it to bed? god knows how many different sh1t you step on.

  36. What I want to know is are they cleaning those finger print readers at immigration at LAX after every use. People without global entry have to go and out their fingers on those filthy finger print readers only to find they have to go and queue up for 60 minutes + to get their finger prints read again.

  37. You asked for it by ( quite unnecessarily) saying you’d been in China when in fact you had not . This kind of over-sharing leads to confusion and makes you look suspicious. You led with your chin and shouldn’t be surprised by the result.

  38. If you have it, the face mask is to protect others, not yourself, that is why Ben got the face mask.

  39. Taiwan is not China so if he asked you whether or not you have been to China, the answer in your case is ‘no’. There’s no need to address that you have not been to mainland China but Taiwan.

  40. @ jkjkjk — Sorry, how is wearing shoes in bed supposed to make me cleaner? The comments section today, oy…

  41. @ Huanhai — Taiwan = “Republic of China / other China = “People’s Republic of China”

    He asked if I had been to China. I had been to the Republic of China. I clarified that. He wasn’t the one who made the decision for me to go to secondary. The machine made that the decision with the “X.” He was just doing his job.

  42. Just to +1 on Gary. Don’t overshare. Something you may say could inadvertently set them off and be completely misinterpreted. It is a MUCH better policy to simply and politely answer the questions you are asked. You may have “overshared” that you transited through a Chinese place, and this is now flagged in your record. CBP officers are not expected to understand the difference between Hubei and Taiwan.

  43. @ Andy 11235 — For what it’s worth, it’s definitely not “oversharing” that caused any of this. My first interaction with an agent came after I got an “X” from the machine. Clearly this was due to me somehow being flagged, but not due to anything I said.

  44. You should have pushed back harder that no, you have not been to China and that you were in Taiwan. Taiwan is not part of China, period.

  45. @Lucky:

    The thing is no any officer will ever ask me if I’m from republic of China. They always say Taiwan. In fact, the passport, immigration system and all other document from the US government states Taiwan as Taiwan (TWN), not republic of China.

  46. @ Ray — I explained the situation clearly, they said there was nothing they could do, and it was “the CDC’s decision.” They gave me their number and that was it. So this isn’t a function of “pushing back.” They’re just following orders, and don’t have discretion.

  47. @ Huanhai — You get that this whole distinction is a non-issue, right? Literally nothing here emerged because I was claiming to have gone to China. They understand the situation, but they’re not empowered to remove my name from whatever list it’s on.

  48. For those that are so against the idea of wearing a mask: since when are people’s rights of wearing masks stripped away? I know back in days masks were banned because of the need to contain those crazy klans, but clearly that is not the case now. If wearing masks is not doing harm to anyone, why should you judge or mistreat those that choose to do it?

  49. @ecco yes as it was posted on the LAX website.
    The joke is the officer who comes in contact with 100s of people a day and was not wearing a face mask himself,

    You should have challenged him and asked whether he had a sanitiser and used it after every interaction and why did he knowingly touch the face mask when not wearing gloves

    Also question where he had been.

    He probably didn’t even know where Taiwan

  50. Really strange form introducing Saudi and a same sex wedding into this story…I don’t understand why that was even necessary

  51. @lucky we are living in time just like after 9-11. Folks in authority will be in a panic and improvising for a while.

  52. @Ray

    Arguing soliopolitical semantics to a random border patrol agent is definitely a great way to make sure one’s immigration experience goes by more smoothly in the future. Maybe next trip Ben can berate the officer about how Kosovo is Serbia to guarantee that the “X” mark goes away for good.

  53. We must accept the fact that all government agencies and department heads lack autonomy and knowledge in public policies anymore. The department heads are those who either have contempt for the departments they lead or break down the traditional protocols in place. They all follow the WH directives before implementing any policy. Science is out the window. Personal interests are top priorities. In his first public appearance addressing the disease, he commented that nobody had died from it. I am no longer shocked at American knowledge of world geography. When I bought travel insurance at AAA, the woman could not pull up Sri Lanka in the system. She thought it did not exist and I was mistaken with another country. Then she asked me to write down the country. When she looked at it, she blurted out that she thought it spelled Sh. She worked as an insurance travel agent.

  54. +1 on bringing your own mask. Everyone looking at you? Hey, at least you were wearing a mask; nobody will recognize you once you exit the terminal and take it off!

  55. I would guess its your super-extensive international travels in a relatively short period of time that flag the system. More exposure to international travelers means more risk.

  56. @Huanhai:

    Take out your passport and look if republic of CHINA is there, dud. If you are not happy with that, you can try to remove it with your little eraser XD

  57. New world order:
    – Been to China for the last decade
    – Look a bit Asian
    They’re all one big family

  58. “Taiwan has an airline?”

    Tells you all you need to know about the average intelligence of American Immigration officers.

  59. @will – oh yeah

    Should just bring up sporting events that will play to empty arenas…Warriors v Nets tomorrow night

  60. With the news yesterday of 3 TSA agents in San Jose found positive, that agent digging around looking for a mask if anything increased your chances of getting it.

  61. Do the math. Italy has the highest coronavirus death rate in the world. Yet, now in Europe, Westerners are discriminating against people who wear masks on streets. This is kinda ridiculous. People who don’t wear masks in Europe (more specifically, Italy and Spain) are seeking for death.

  62. My sister in Japan wears a mask when she just goes to 7-Eleven near her house (5-min walking) no matter what just because she doesn’t want to make up her face, LOL. It’s their culture.

  63. So who to trust? CDC or border control? At least in China Authorities can get into an agreement that makes sense instead of contradicting between authorities.

  64. I suspect some ignorant DHS person didn’t know the difference between China and Taiwan and entered “China” in your file. I flew from Taiwan to the US in late January and have had not experienced extra checks when flying since then.

    The irony of all this is Taiwan has remarkably kept the virus at bay (only 48 cases to date) and has more to fear from US travelers to Taiwan at this point

  65. @alan — lulz. Lucky mentioning the Sportsball on here? We have better chances of a report to cancelled public screenings of the latest Housewives episodes. 😉

  66. If the first question is “have you been to China recently?” why are you not responding with “No, I haven’t been to China recently.”

  67. Such measures but on the other hand not caring much. Departed JFK yesterday and saw an Air China from Beijing getting to terminal 1. It was a regular scheduled flight. I thought US had canceled all flights to mainland China.
    Next to the plane an Alitalia one…

  68. @mirco air china , China eastern and China southern have some flights to Los Angeles , New York and San Francisco

    I think immigration officers at for example LAX would be familiar with the foreign airlines that operate there

    Miami lacks Asian ( passenger) flights

  69. Ideally the entire world should’ve done this to anyone coming out of China TWO MONTHS ago.
    Now too late to do any shit.
    Chinese commies are denying this whole shit started there.
    And dumb bureaucrats are playing worthless catch ups now.
    Good luck finding any mask or sanitizers.

  70. @Pigx5 @OMG Read some science and read the WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines regarding face masks (don’t use them)

    CoronaVirus passes through masks because it it smaller than the holes in the mask.

    Normal masks are useless when worn by the general public because the general public has no clue how to use them properly even if they did. (They must be fitted properly and used properly)

    If you have the virus they might be semi-effective if you are spewing droplets as they might limit the distance.

    Save the masks for those who need them and can use them properly.

    Panic use just wastes a limited resource that might be needed in cases where they would be effective.

  71. @Doc

    “Technically speaking, this is wrong.
    In fact, according to https://english.president.gov.tw/page/93
    Taiwan + Hong Kong + Macao + mainland China (PRC) + Mongolia = Republic of China”

    Technically speaking, your statement is wrong. Since Hong Kong, Macao and Islands around (including Taiwan) are part of PRC, no need for double counting.

  72. You weren’t “forced” to wear a facemask. Someone told you to put on a facemask and you did. You should have just said no.

  73. The one certainty in life is that you can guarantee people will over react. Why? Because taking the time to figure out fact from fiction requires more than 10 minutes of research and reading so nope forget that. These days more so than ever people only want other people to tell them what to do or just emulate the guy next to you. That’s why there are people wearing maska, buying up TP and hand sanitizer.

    And the reasonable people who works for an organization, even though they know better will still do stupid things because of litigation.

    But the worst culprit are the lazy people who will end all debate with good old “just in case, you don’t know”.

  74. “This is not intended to be a complaint, or a criticism”
    sure sounds like it.
    forced?
    not so much.

  75. You have to understand that this screening has nothing to do with disease prevention, but to create the appearance that they are doing something about disease prevention. It’s like TSA not having anything to do with real security, but with creating the appearance of security. The proper response is, “Yes, I’ve been to Asia, and this is not my first kabuki dance.”

  76. Taiwan has had 47 cases of Covid-19. Has anyone determined whether it’s a one-and-done disease, like chicken pox? Or is it more like a cold (another coronavirus), that you can give to someone and then get back from him two weeks later?

  77. to all the naysayers — he was FORCED. Held down and a mask was placed on him against his will.
    He didn’t want to mention that but thankfully has the temerity of spirit to blog about this for our benefit.
    The word “hero” often is bandied about undeservedly but here…

  78. @EL

    Seriously, you believe wearing a mask is why other China bordering nations have lower counts? Did you ever notice that most people in China and S. Korea wear them as well. Guess the people in China put them on backwards.

  79. Masks such as that one pictured are totally U-S-E-L-E-S-S !
    Worse than that really, as they give an entirely false impression that they are in fact effective.
    If you want one then a N95 or N97 variety (if you can get any) is best available.
    The one given to you is purely a airport theatre prop and of no other use (other than to embarrass you and alarm other passengers!)
    You are right that you should not have been handed it by someone whose hands would have harboured more germs than an airport lavatory. Even using cheap kitchen tongs would have been a million times better.

  80. Someone I know who haven’t been to taiwan or china, just singapore for 2 days was being flagged by cbp and secondary for three times.

    He went to doctors office for clean check report and showed it during his 4rth CBP questioning.
    They accepted the letter and fixed something and now she doesn’t get any secondary any more.

    go to doctor’s office and get a letter and show it to CBP, problem solved

  81. I think the key takeaway is carry your own mask. In the future it may be Germany or the UK that raises the red flag, though it is looking like the US is becoming a hotbed…once the incompetent Trump administration gets test kits out to states that need them.

    Worth noting that many people in Japan wear masks due to pollen in the air. I don’t wear a mask and they are not available in stores in Japan (along with no TP). I ordered some online and they still haven’t been delivered (Amazon says today, 3 days late..,we’ll see) to carry when I travel to Australia in case they are demanded or in case I catch a cold.

  82. If they hand the mask like that (unsanitary procedure), then say no with the reason and ask for it to be corrected (and the witness their sanitizing) and for the Q-station manager or someone directly from CDC.

  83. Typical surgical masks are not 100% preventive from viruses, but better than no covering.

    The reason why many people in Japan have been wearing masks (mostly in winter) even before the corona crisis has a lot to do with preventing your OWN virus from SPREADING, rather than contracting from others. Especially through coughing or sneezing.

    Further, they are also meant to keep moisture in throat. Winter months are typically dry in most parts of Japan, so adding to the colder weather they can easily damage throat, which becomes susceptible to illness.

    Just because they want to hide their face is pure bs.

  84. Masks are useless, maybe if you’re sick, but certainly not for a healthy person, the CDC and all medical professionals know this fact very well, it seems doubtful to me that they would recommend or require TSA to enforce such a misguided moronic policy and worse yet without proper training, handling procedures and adequate stocking levels. The whole episode sounds like a typical self inflicted TSA/DHS/CBP shot from the hip and right through the foot, without a shred of common sense or practical purpose. How many times a day/hour do they disinfect the glass surfaces of the global entry kiosk fingerprint scanners? It’s all a bunch of nonsense, designed by fools and operated by fools. It’s embarrassing to anyone with more than a 3rd grade education.

  85. In this case you really were entering a major cruise terminal, and you are all over the place.

    Having been to China probably isn’t really the determining factor, and the hysteria over the virus probably has only actually saved lives at risk from other diseases and reckless behaviors that are being curtailed because of the coronavirus media feedback loop reported and consumed by idiots who need to have their behavior corrected anyway.

    If the worst that happens so far is that fools everywhere have to start acting conservatively, and you need to talk to immigration like everyone else, it’s not such a bad thing. Mass hysteria can always turn on us though…

  86. @Ben oh no i didnt mean Cancun and Managua were higher risk than traveling domestically, I just meant any unecessary exposure at all aka traveling to Managua or Peru or wherever else you have up your sleeve. If I were you I’d just take a break until things calmed down a bit, idk just an advice! We just want you to stay safe!!

  87. Ben, I have to be careful here in what I write about CPB flagging and their data base. But I can tell you through accurate authority, that once you have been “flagged” , ( for whatever reason ), you will always remain flagged, until such time that you may choose to go through a very lengthy procedure with Homeland without any guarantee that the outcome will be positive , to have your name un- flagged. Sorry.

  88. You should’ve just said ” No, I didn’t go to China. I went to Taiwan.” That’s clear and to the point. I don’t know what’s wrong with you that you keep implying Taiwan is part of China in your recent posts including all very pro-CCP wording like ” Taipei’s like ” Taipei’s international airline”, ” Mainland China” etc..It is just ridiculous. That why you get these troubles.

  89. hard to believe you make such a easy question so complicated. Just don’t confused yourself. Nobody care about the official country name of China and Taiwan. The correct answer is ” No, I didn’t go to China. ”
    A reader from PRC =CHINA

  90. I’m in Taiwan now. Hotels at check-in ask me if I have been in China. Why would hotels ask if I have been in China if I am standing in China at check in?

  91. You probably got flagged by the immigration officer because they are confused from your communist jargon. When people ask about China, 99% of the time, they are thinking of places like Shanghai or Beijing. They almost never think about Taiwan. Taiwan is nothing like China. Taiwan uses a different writing system, and have their own vocabularies. You are correct that the official name of Taiwan is the Republic of China. But “China” in that instance is a geographical term. In Chinese, it is written as a different word from the country China. This is similar to how people from South America would never tell people they are Americans. They are not. As with why people are offended by the term “mainland China,” you would never go around telling people you live in “mainland USA.” That sounds ridiculous. When people say China, they mean PR China, and never Taiwan. TAIWAN IS TAIWAN. CHINA IS CHINA.

  92. @Jenna If you are a business dealing with the PRC, Taiwan (and HK and Macau) are part of Greater China. You risk being kicked out of the PRC if you don’t list Taiwan as a province of China, don’t include it on a map of China etc. Sure, as private citizens in the West we can think about Taiwan as not part of the PRC, but the reality for companies is you are treading on egg shells. In international sports competitions it is often referred to as Taipei-China, it is not part of the UN etc etc. Unfortunately it is a geopolitical reality.

  93. Patients keep the pathogen in their respiratory tract for as long as 37 days, a new study found, suggesting they could remain infectious for many weeks. In yet another sign of how difficult the pandemic may be to contain, doctors in China detected the virus’s RNA in respiratory samples from survivors for a median of 20 days after they became infected, they wrote in an article published in the Lancet medical journal.

  94. Anyone knows how to get rid of the “X” out of global entry? Just because Ben has been to Taiwan long time ago, where cases are far less than America? And I think it’s nothing wrong to share the details although I have to admit “republic of china” is a bit confusing.

  95. @Janet But Lucky is just a travel blogger, an E.U and U.S. citizen, why he had to kowtow to authoritarian Chinese government. He even mentioned/ implied Taiwan as part of China upon entering U.S.? He even made statement that Taiwan=PRC which is totally disgraceful. Plus, there are many international companies and airlines refuse to list Taiwan as part of China. AA, UA, DL, JL, KE and OZ etc..

  96. So weird you needed to put on a mask. I was in Zhuhai, China in late January for a week right when the coronavirus was spreading and Wuhan was locked down. But we left for Taiwan before any travel restrictions between the two countries. Was in Taipei for 2 weeks before returning Feb 14. Yesterday came back from 8 days in Switzerland, used Global Entry, and passed through as normal. I did get asked in Zurich when checking in if we had been to China the past 2 weeks and we said no since it had been more than that.

  97. Ben and all,
    If not having “essential’ travel, stay home for awhile. That is what we did during SARS.
    Anthony

  98. I like the suggestion of having your own mask. I would put on the mask between plane and immigration and throw on some rubber gloves for good measure. Then at least you will not potentially be infected by inept agents. Alternatively, throw on the sterile suit Jude Law wore in contagion. That will make the statement that you will not infect others.

  99. Oh Kids be prepared to see much much more of this…..

    Travel = no bueno …. in a Global pandemic

    add a Gov’t Bureaucracy ( there are 340,000,000 million people in the USA , + 20,000,000 no one knows are here they need to track … ) into he mix and big X show up …..

    as my airline pilot friend said, ” The Wolf is Here ” ….

    Soon you will be ban from traveling to specific countries , and its not Cuba or North Korea but …. somewhere like Italy …. Germany … Sad times

  100. Arrived in Sea from Dubai on March 20th with two other family members. Prior flight from Cebu PI to Dubai. No temp taken at Sea airport where customs asked me one question and waved me through after I entered Global entry into on kiosk. They did not even take the health forms or custom declaration forms I had filled out on the plane that Emirates staff had stated were mandatory. UAE and Philippines airports had far more precautions in place. Did not make me feel relieved by any sense to be back home.

  101. I flew into Seattle on Icelandair the week after you posted this. Before boarding in Keflavik, we were given health questionnaires – one per person. On arrival in Seattle we were given a second questionnaire – one per family.

    When finally allowed off the plane, we were met by CDC screeners who reviewed the questionnaire given us in Keflavik, asked a few questions, and took our temperatures with no-contact thermometers. Then we were held in the hallway for several minutes before proceeding to immigration while passengers on a flight from London went to immigration.

    At Global Entry, EVERYONE was given the dreaded X. With only one officer to handle GE, it would have been faster to use the normal line. The CBP person asked us the same questions the CDC person asked and took the form given to us at the gate in SEA. At least I got to go right through customs and had PreCheck when I went to the gate for my next flight.

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