Most travelers have heard of the Do Not Fly list maintained by TSA. In fact the information is so public today, you can see who is on the list. Technically called the No-Fly List, I hope you are not one of the nearly 100,000 who have earned their place here.
But there is another government list that hasn’t received much attention. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created a Do Not Board list seven years ago. Unlike the more famous list, this one doesn’t screen for potential terrorists. Instead, it monitors individuals who may pose a threat due to communicable diseases. Also unlike the ‘Fly’ list, do not expect the names on this one to be posted on the internet due to privacy concerns.
The DNB list was created as a method to deal with an increase in tuberculosis (TB) cases. This is an instance where the government got it right. In the first year, 79% of the suspected TB cases proved to be correct. Today the list is receiving increased attention due to Ebola. In the words of CDC, the list is designed to “prevent travel on commercial aircraft by persons who pose a risk for infection to other travelers.” As I said previously, airlines already have the authority to refuse boarding to anyone they believe may pose a health threat to passengers or crew. This means if they think you are a risk, they can deny you boarding or even remove you from a flight.
The difference between the airline policy and the DNB list for ill travelers is that the latter will keep you from flying on all airlines, though presumably there is nothing to prevent a specific flight from reporting an individual to the DNB list managers if they so choose. While the list is helpful, it is far from infallible. DNB applies only to those who wish to fly into or out of the U.S. It does not apply to travelers who desire to continue their journeys here by car, bus, train, or ship.
Regardless of the type of communicable disease they may have, it is not altogether comforting to know that while they may not fly, potentially contagious individuals can still get around without any monitoring. Not suggesting here that CDC won’t monitor Ebola cases very carefully, only pointing out that Do Not Board is not synonymous with Do Not Travel.