Before leaving for Germany earlier this week, we cleared security at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It was there that I overheard a rather scary team huddle amongst TSA officers.
TSA Officers Exposed To COVID-19 Continue To Work At LAX
The terminal was largely deserted. Even with only two checkpoints open, there was no wait to clear security on what pre-COVID would have been an extremely crowded afternoon.
After clearing security, I gathered my belongings and then unfolded the stroller. Once we had everything, we walked toward our gate.
Along the way, we passed a gaggle of TSA officers assembled around a supervisor (indicated by three stripes on his epaulet).
I could not believe what I was hearing:
“We’re not over this yet. Six of your colleagues here in the terminal tested positive this morning for COVID. You should all watch yourselves for symptoms.”
The positive testing was not so much a surprise as the reaction to it. All of these workers were presumably exposed, yet they continue business as usual and wait for symptoms to arise?
According to the TSA website, protection measures for frontline employees include:
- Granting paid administrative leave or excused absences (rather than requiring use of personal leave) for those who are diagnosed with COVID-19, need to self-quarantine while awaiting a COVID-19 test result, or have had direct contact with an infected individual.
The problem, of course, is that symptoms often do not arise immediately. Indeed, they can take several days to manifest themselves.
It isn’t clear if TSA manpower is stretched incredibly thin or if there are a surplus of agents since airports are so (relatively) quiet these days.
I asked the TSA to comment and a spokesperson noted:
TSA is and has been conducting contact tracing of each employee who receives a positive COVID-19 test result. TSA will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and any updates the CDC provides to ensure that those who have met the threshold of exposure are sent home to self quarantine. We are providing the best protection for our workforce and the traveling public. TSA Administrator David Pekoske has repeatedly advised the workforce to continue protecting themselves both on and off duty. This is for their own protection as well as that of their co-workers and the traveling public.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, TSA has had uniform procedures in place to include: (1) Social distancing in and around the security checkpoint for employees and travelers; (2) reduced physical contact during the screening process; (3) Use of Personal Protective Equipment; and (4) Increased cleaning and disinfecting in and around the security checkpoint. These are elements of TSA’s “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure” campaign. Each TSA employee in contact with the public is required to wear a mask and a face shield at checkpoints across the country.
Employees are asked to stay home if they are sick and we have provided generous leave through policies that are sensitive to the continuing pandemic. Keeping employees safe is of the utmost concern throughout our agency.
It’s no wonder this virus spreads so rapidly when people exposed to it are not given the opportunity to stay home without risking adverse financial consequences. But I also understand that in the healthcare system, asymptomatic first responders are being asked to continue to work, even if COVID-19 positive. Perhaps the TSA is also stretched very thin. In either case, the news is scary.
image: Hipebrxonxatcha / Wikimedia Commons
The TSA’s unique interpretation of ‘Operational Excellence’ at its finest again, clearly……NOT.
I don’t know if the following helps to put this situation in perspective. In at will employment states a hospital can make staff work with a positive test result as long as no fever is present. If the exposed staff member seeks workman’s compensation benefits they can be terminated under the no reason needed to dismiss.
it’s not scary. It doesn’t “Transmit” like you think it does. You may already have it. It’s latent. It’s harmless until you become weak.
2/3 of couples do not pass IT on to their spouse. Viral load doesn’t mean anything, which means the “15 minute rule” is BS.
Look up CDC IFR….anyone under 70 has 99.5+ % chance of survival. Long covid in maybe 10%…but how much is long term (Beyond just a few weeks), not clear yet.
Stop fearmongering. Stop being a victim of fearmongering.
75%+ of cases are not real / clinically nothing. 200,000 daily cases –> < 50,000
See Turkey's adjustment.
Vaccine Efficacy deceitfully engineered to be 90%+.
Flu vaccine efficacy has been falling for last 6 years prior…which makes you wonder if it does anything.
Nearly everything you said is objectively untrue.
I’ll take your phrase and adjust it for accuracy: Stop purposeful ignorance. Stop being a victim of willful ignorance.
“In order to become sick, you have to first come in contact with a sick person or something that they touched. In order to get scared, all you have to do is come in contact with a rumor or the television or the internet. I think what [you’re] spreading is far more dangerous than the disease.” (Contagion, 2011)
graphic of same thing
Go to scenario 5 best current estimate. Also this
Add https:// and remove the front dashes.
As for the other claims…why don’t you research those?
But wait, the TSA agents always have masks on and sometimes faceshields over those, and a plexiglass “shield” physically separating them from us. I can’t understand why those mitigation methods that the experts have been regurgitating for almost a year isn’t working…
75%+ (80%?) cases not real due to PCR High Cycle deception. Study that.
Yeah, nothing you said is true. The virus is real. The results are real. I would think Quasimodo would have a hunch.
graphic of same thing
Go to scenario 5 best current estimate. Also this
take YOUR lies and shove it!
add https:// and remove front dashes. See other comment to other person for more.
Falling efficacy…though they recently added 2019-2020
The high PCR cycle…you can research that. Hint…New York Times and other stories…
Shockingly (NOT) this is the same policy for flight attendants at most airlines.
What a joke!
You over hear that six TSA agents serving one terminal tested positive on the day you were traveling from one of the busiest airports in the world which is situated in one of the most hit places around the world and you question whether the rest should be there for their safety and yours?
What are they to do? Shut down all service and all flights until an un exposed staff can arrive??? That is presuming that they are not already on skeleton staffs due to the nonstop nonessential travel that happens daily exposing all of the TSA staff of the disease. – but if they took appropriate measures and delayed all of the flights in that terminal or cancel them all due to the risk of international transmission, you and all the ignorant travelers would raise hell and scream about your rights to go on vacation or go to where ever the hell your going to write about a destination that people shouldn’t be going to for at least the first half of 2021.
It is the travelers exposing these poor TSA agents, and you question if they should be working while you hop on a flight?
You preaching the opportunity for people to stay home while boarding a jet????!
You read FAR too much into my post. Don’t assume. I was just recounting what I heard.
Wow, only one in 200 under 60 die of it? And 20 get symptoms of unknown duration? So sign me up!
And the “few weeks” isn’t long covid, that’s just the time it takes for most of the 40-75% cases to recover their sense of smell. Even then, I have a business contact who, eight months later, still only has three basic smells.
Those odds are pretty awful, by the way, and justify more severe measures than have already been taken. The aviation industry in particular makes this clear: if you were to die those month as a result of a flight from LAX to FRA, the odds of COVID-19 being the cause are numerous orders of magnitude higher than anything else, and that’s with masks on.
Yes, wear a mask; I know from personal experience they’re not going to prevent you from getting it, but they reduce the odds, and probably reduce the severity. This thing is highly contagious.
As for the post: hearsay. But I’ve no doubt that the TSA folks are getting hammered with it.
The effect of wearing the veil by Saudi ladies on the occurrence
of respiratory diseases
Respiratory infections and asthma were significantly MORE
common in veils users…
Is Routine Use of a Face Mask Necessary in the Operating Room?
Surgeons at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, recognizing the lack of
evidence supporting the use of masks, ceased requiring them in 2010 for anesthesiologists and other non-scrubbed personnel in the operating
“Our decision to no longer require routine surgical masks
for personnel not scrubbed for surgery is a departure from
common practice. But the evidence to support this practice
does not exist,” wrote Dr. Eva Sellden.
add https:// and remove front dashes.
Karolinska Institute is associated with the Nobel Prize….and there are
dozens more studies…that IS the real “science”…done years before.
On 2/3 of spouses not passing it on….study is on JAMA Network Open.
Young law office worker in her 20’s didn’t die….yeah right, she needed a life altering (for the worse) double lung transplant. No joke. Covid-19 is to be taken very seriously!
Sorry but I think JR has a point remember this it’s not what you know its what you don’t know. If someone choices to fly regularly then they have only themselves to blame if they contract Covid 19 / R. I was amazed at the top locations currently being booked for 2021 that the travel industry published, that was a month ago if I am not mistaken, while I don’t have that list in front of me if one looks at those locations today not sure if they would be booked that aggressively. one example was SA, check their infection rate today or any of the southern African nations. We had to cancel a planned trip to Cape Town last year. We have booked a trip to London late summer why London according to some friends in a position to know with the Brits getting out ahead of this mess and vaccinating sooner than later there is a better chance of not contracting. Look at the news today in Germany they have blotched vaccinating the EU is once again proving to be dysfunctional. I was stationed there while in the AF and can tell you 30 years later it hasn’t changed which is why we need to withdraw a large portion of our troops
Happy New Year to all and travel wisely in 2021.
So, I read this post and initially reacted with some alarm. But rereading what you said that you overheard, Matthew, I’m not quite sure what to think. How many TSA employees work the TBIT, relative to the number who tested positive that day? I have no idea. If it’s ~30 and 20% of them tested positive, that is quite scary. But if it’s closer to 120, then I don’t know what to think. (I’d guess the number is closer to 30, but I don’t really know.) And the circumstances are also unclear. Were the employees you saw actually exposed the positive 6? It’s not an unreasonable assumption, but, again, we don’t know. What I do find strange is that that conversation was being held in a place where you could overhear it. I hope that they are all protecting themselves as well as they should be able to … but we just can’t know.
One more thing: I’m totally jealous that you and your family get to shelter in Germany! Even though the situation isn’t normal, it sounds pleasant. Bis gleich!
Big f-ing deal. Most people never get symptoms anyway. I suppose though that TSA agents are at greater risk, given how fat and lazy they are. Lots of co-morbidities there XD.
You don’t really know that these particular employees have been exposed to the ones who had, they could be from different shifts or spaced out throughout the airport. They may just have told the to keep an eye out for any symptoms as a precaution.
So you were close enough to hear their conversation, which means you were in close contact… so then you purposefully chose to proceed onto an aircraft for hours and potentially spread it further? I guess your spreading doesn’t matter but theirs does? Interesting.
I was more than six feet away, honey. So sad that you were the best the GOP could muster in GA…
Matthew this is certainly disturbing. I’m glad you made a post about it. Unfortunately, however, this just seems like yet another instance of the rules not applying to members of the government. I wish it would change, but I’m not sure it ever will.