So Transportation Security Administration officers are among the workers who must still show up for work.
Unfortunately, it turns out TSA workers aren’t immune to COVID-19 and there are have been some TSA officers who have tested positive for the virus. So it’s possible some passengers may have been exposed to the virus by these officers at some airports.
As of March 23, TSA said 25 screening officers had tested positive for COVID-19. An additional five non-screening employees who TSA says “have relatively limited interaction with the traveling public,” have tested positive for the virus as well.
Here’s the list of where TSA officers tested positive for the virus:
Newark-Liberty International Airport (EWR)
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
Orlando International Airport (MCO)
LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CVG)
Cyril E. King International Airport (STT; St. Thomas, VI)
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood Int’l Airport (FLL)
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
TSA says it continues to work with the CDC and state and local health departments to monitor local situations.
In the meantime, passengers will find that at some airports TSA has closed some checkpoints and is staffing others with reduced hours.
Pretty much every airline is spooling out schedule cuts in response to reduced passenger demand, concerns about coronavirus and government-imposed restriction.
American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Etihad, Norwegian and Singapore Airlines are just a few carriers that have made serious schedule adjustments in the past few days.
Fewer planes will be in the skies, but airports remain open.
And the Transportation Security Administration, which recently confirmed that three of its
officers at Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) tested positive for the
COVID-19 virus, is finally getting into gear with security checkpoint-specific advice
TSA is reminding travelers that it is OK to bring individually
packaged alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes in carry-on or checked luggage. Jumbo
containers of hand wipes are also allowed in carry-on or checked luggage, says
TSA, as are liquid hand sanitizers.
For safety reasons, savvy travelers already know to put personal
stuff such as wallets, keys, phones, loose change, etc., inside their carry-ons
and not loose in the bins going through the x-ray machines.
But those bins don’t get cleaned very often – if at all – and are
full of germs.
So, TSA is reminding travelers to keep their personal items from
touching the bins and to wash their hands as soon as possible after going
through the screening process.
Airports are continuing their efforts to stay extra clean as
All the head-spinning news about the Coronavirus (COVID-19),
may have you wondering what to do if, like us, you have plane tickets and
travel plans booked for the next few days, weeks or months.
If your airline cancels your flight or your organization
cancels its event, your decision about whether to go or stay home may be
decided for you. Then, getting refunds, credit for future travel or an
itinerary for a different destination may be what keeps you busy.
If you’re in the wait-and-see mode and decide to pack your
bags and go, here’s what some airports and the TSA are doing to help you – and their
employees – stay safe.
During normal travel times, airport security checkpoints are germy places and now is certainly not the time to walk barefoot through the metal detectors or put your shoes in the bin on top of your coat.
To avoid germs – and leaving stuff behind – we always recommend putting whatever you can, including your coat, the contents of your pockets, a purse, your lunch and anything you’re carrying, into your carry-on instead of into the bins. And put your shoes on the belt, not into a bin.
There are always bottles
of hand sanitizers at the checkpoints. Now there are more. Your tax dollars pay
for those, so don’t be shy about really cleaning up in the recombobulation area
A TSA spokesperson says the
nitrile gloves officers usually wear when patting you down or looking through
your stuff adds a layer of protection against germs and that, for now, TSA has
authorized personnel who come into close contact with travelers to wear
surgical masks – if they want.
Fighting germs in airports
In general, airports across the country say they are increasing
the frequency and intensity of cleaning efforts in washrooms and other areas.
Airports are also encouraging passengers to follow the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s advice on washing hands, covering coughs and
otherwise trying to prevent the spread of germs by staying home if not well.
And airport officials say they’re monitoring the impacts
of the coronavirus and working closely with local
and federal partners and airlines to reduce
the risk to passengers.
Airport (DEN) is adding sanitary wipe stations in jet bridges so passengers can
sanitize their seats on planes and putting extra bottles of hand sanitizers at
the security checkpoints and information booths.
DEN notes that it is one of the airports that use checkpoint screening trays with antimicrobial treatments.
As you may imagine, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
(SEA) and its passengers are on high alert.
SEA is keeping its Traveler
Update page very up-to-date with advice for travelers and the latest COVID-19
Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said the airport is doing additional
cleaning and has been increasing those efforts as the situation has progressed.
“We have reviewed and updated the type and strength of
cleaners to be even more efficient,” said Cooper, “And have also added over 50
new hand sanitizer stations in the international areas as well as increasing
them in the general areas of the airport.”
“There won’t be a place on the airport where you won’t see
some reference to the Super Bowl,” said airport spokesman Greg Meyer.
To prepare for and impress sports fans, many of whom may be visiting the airport and the area for the first time, FLL has put 160 live plants throughout the terminals and artificial greenery in the restrooms.
Teams are polishing terrazzo floors, shampooing the carpeting, pressure cleaning the sidewalks, scouring the restrooms and detailing the shuttles that run between the terminals and the rental car center.
“We do much of this cleaning normally,” said Meyer, “but
doing it just prior to the game will make sure we look our best.”
Before and after the big game, FLL will have extra staff on duty and more than 60 volunteers on-site to help guests navigate through the airport.
Airport concessionaires are doing their part too. Store hours are extended hours and there’s plenty of official team and game gear for sale.
Magically, memorabilia to celebrate the winning team will be for sale immediately after the game.
MIA is about 18 miles from Hard Rock Stadium and expects above-average passenger traffic on the three days prior to and the day after Super Bowl Sunday. On Monday, Feb 3, about 90,000 passengers are projected to depart MIA, which would be a single-day record for departures at the airport.
In addition to a pre-game facility spruce-up, MIA is adding some bonus features as well.
Through Super Bowl Sunday, MIA’s public address system will
be playing rotating welcoming messages from three former All-Pros: Miami
Dolphins legends Dan Marino, Nat Moore and Jason Taylor.
And through the end of February, travelers can view Duane Hanson’s iconic, hyperrealist sculpture, “Football Player” on the D Concourse, between Gates D47 and D48.
Also through the end of February, the Wolfson Moving Images exhibition on Concourse F is featuring archive video from past Miami Super Bowls and Miami Dolphins history on a set of old-style flight monitors.
Both FLL AND MIA also have detailed airport navigation information, arrival, and departure tips on their websites. Each airport also has important alerts about human trafficking, on the “Countdown to Takeoff Playbook” posted on their respective websites.
And passengers arriving before the Super Bowl on Thursday and Friday (1/30 and 1/31) at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), 58 miles from Hard Rock Stadium, will be greeted with special welcoming messages as well as giveaways and promotional items in the Bag Claim level.
Concessionaires at PBI are laying in the
sports-themed memorabilia as well.
TSA gearing up for the game
During the Super Bowl week, TSA, local and county police
departments, Customs and Border Protection, and other agencies will be adding
extra teams and showing a hi-visibility presence at all area airports
And to help with the crush of fans leaving on February 3, some security checkpoints will open early at both FLL and MIA and additional checkpoints will stay open 24 hours.
While not all security precautions being taken can be
shared, according to TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz, FLL will have 6 extra canine
teams, additional support from Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) and the Broward
Country Sheriff’s office, and 40 extra Transportation Security Officers on duty
to help at checkpoints and baggage areas.
Koshetz says 10 additional TSA canine teams will also join the eleven TSA canine teams already at MIA. There will be 60 additional TSA Officers to augment the TSA Miami Officer staff and help keep additional checkpoint lanes open on throughout the day.
Follow the countdown plan
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the National Football League, hospitality organizations and the airports are encouraging passengers heading home after the game on February 3 to follow the “5-4-3-2-1” plan.
The campaign encourages travelers to check out of hotels 5 hours before departure flight time; to return rental cars 4 hours before their flights, and to check-in at the airline ticket counters 3 hours before their flights. TSA hopes travelers will go through security at least 2 hours before their flights and be at their gates an hour before flight time.
For security reasons, TSA is
also asking Super Bowl travelers heading home after the big game to pack their
commemorative programs in carry-ons, not in checked bags.
In previous years, the
composition and thickness of these programs prevented TSA’s machines and human
scanners from seeing beneath the booklets in checked bags, requiring those bags
to alarm and be opened.
(My story about airports and TSA getting ready for Super Bowl fans first appeared on USA TODAY in a slightly different format.)
In its annual Year in Review, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today shared the tally of the number of firearms its officers found at airport checkpoints around the country all last year.
The total: an alarming and record-setting 4,432 firearms were found at airport security checkpoints in 2019.
That’s an average of 85.2 firearms per
week, or 12.1 firearms per day.
It’s also a 5% increase the 4,239 firearms discovered at
airport checkpoints in 2018.
Here are some more stats from TSA’s 2019 firearm finds:
*Of the 4,432 firearms found, 3,863 were found loaded. And1,507 of those firearms had a round loaded.
*TSA found guns at 278 of the country’s 440 federalized airports, but firearms showed up more often at some airport than others.
Here are the Top Ten Airports where the most firearms were found:
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL): 323. That’s 25 more firearms than were found at ATL in 2018
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW): 217
Denver International Airport (DEN): 140
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH): 138
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX): 132
Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL): 103
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL): 100
Nashville International Airport (BNA): 97
Orlando International Airport (MCO): 96
Tampa International Airport (TPA): 87
For the record, firearms aren’t allowed past airport security
checkpoints. But TSA says many firearms owners say “Oops, I forgot that was in
my bag,” when their weapons are found at the airport.
Being caught with a gun at the airport can get you arrested,
fined more than $13,000 per violation and cause you to lose your TSA Precheck
status, should you have that.